• Reel Life Journeys

    Jesus calls us to care for others, even during the darkest times

    Just as the Abbate family sat down to dinner one evening, the telephone rang. It was the phone call that all parents fear: their son had been in an automobile accident. The events that followed became the factual basis for a new film in theaters now: The 5th Quarter. The Abbates hurriedly drove to the area of town where a new subdivision was under construction, but were stopped at the entrance by the police. “I need to be with my son in there,” Steven Abbate shouted at the officers. When told to wait for someone to explain the situation, he wouldn’t stand still. Steven ran through the woods and around…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Stick together as a family, even through tough times

    In 1965, 20th Century Fox released the film John Goldfarb, Please Come Home. A comic spoof on the Cold War, the film depicts the mad-capped events after a spy plane flown by John Goldfarb, a former Notre Dame football player, crashes in the fictitious Arab country of Fawzia. The King (Peter Ustinov) keeps Goldfarb (Richard Crenna) prisoner, forcing him to teach a group of Fawzians how to play American football. Jenny Ericson (Shirley McLain) is a reporter who goes undercover as a member of the king’s harem. Ambitious to make Fawzia known around the world, the king blackmails the U.S. State Department into arranging a game between his team and…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Counting our blessings as we live each new day

    Celebrating the holidays with friends and family can be a time of great joy – and sadness. The house looks the same as last year – same tree, lights and decorations – but it feels different. Before long I remember why – Dad is not around anymore. Christmas without a loved one can be a bittersweet time, full of happy memories and quiet moments of sadness. Just when you think you can’t cry any more, another batch of tears show up during a favorite Christmas film or song. I suppose I could stop watching movies or football games that remind me of Dad, but then I would be denying myself…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Rudy: “Work hard to achieve your dream”

    Three months after Rudy Ruettiger graduated from Notre Dame, I arrived on campus as a freshman. I remember hearing comments about a walk-on who got to play during the previous season, but not much was made of it at the time. Thirty years later, the film Rudy is now as much a part of the lore and legend of Notre Dame football as the stories of Knute Rockne, the Gipper and the Four Horsemen. And since it is a contemporary story with endearing qualities that transcend football, more people probably know more about Rudy than the Notre Dame legends listed above. That’s a good thing, because the film’s message of…

  • Featured Posts 1,  Reel Life Journeys

    Everything is illuminated at that very special place

    “There are places I remember, all my life, though some have changed. Some forever not for better, some have gone and some remain.” – “In My Life” by Lennon/McCarthy The football stadium in Bristol was just as I remembered, built of stone and shaped like a castle. In the cool autumn night, students and people from the surrounding community quickly filled its seats. Thirty-one years ago I ran out onto this field with my teammates, full of spirit and focused on a single purpose – defeat our opponent by playing hard and by the rules. Last Friday night I walked onto the field again, pitch pipe in hand, ready to begin the…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Friday night lights shine on life lessons

    It’s football time in Tennessee, especially on Friday nights when the lights are on our local high school teams. For so many of us former players, the pregame preparations, pageantry and the hard-fought battles of Friday nights were the highlights of our high school years. Through it all, we met long-time friends and learned life lessons that still resonate in our adult years. I reminisced about playing football in the Stone Castle at Tennessee High in Bristol after watching the film Friday Night Lights. Starring Billy Bob Thornton as head coach Gary Gaines, the film portrays the personal and collective struggles of the 1988 Permian Panthers, a high school team…