Preaching Connection: Joy

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Movies for Preaching

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).  Written and directed by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra.  Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, and Henry Travers.  130 mins.  Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. It’s a film that supposedly everybody knows, and loves, hauled out each Christmas ad infintum in ever-so-boring bleached out copies.  It’s an…

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Babette’s Feast (1987) – 2

Babette’s Feast (1987).  Written by Karen Blixen (short story) and Gabriel Axel (screenplay).  Directed by Gabriel Axel.  Starring Stéphane Audran, Bodil Kjer, Bergitte Federspiel, Jarl Kulle, and Jean-Philippe Lafont.  Music: Per Nørgaard.  Cinematography: Henning Kristiansen.  Rated G; 102 mins. Rotten Tomatoes 100%. Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast (1987) is a remarkable film of many pleasures, and…

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Fargo (1996) – 2

Fargo, Written and Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Starring Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi.   98 minutes, Rated R. The bulk of the Coen brothers’ film Fargo is fraught with the tawdry and the evil.  A car salesman’s scheme by which to swindle his father-in-law out of $1 million goes about…

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Reading for Preaching

Anatomy of a Murder

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck by the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.”
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Grace Notes: Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim

K. Chesterton used to ponder the problem of pleasure. “He found materialism too thin to account for the sense of wonder and delight that sometimes marks the world, a sense that gives an almost magical dimension to such simple human acts as sex, and childbirth, and artistic creation. Not everyone will accept the Christian philosophy...
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“How Shall We Then Laugh?” in his Literature and Theology as Amiable Companions

“Just what it is that prompts laughter has engaged some of the best minds in history.  It is a phenomenon which Christopher Fry calls ‘the surest touch of genius in creation.’ From Aristotle and Plato down to the present, the fact that man is the only creature that laughs has evoked great interest and voluminous...
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Mere Christianity, in The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics

“God created beings which had free will.  That means creatures who can go either wrong or right.  Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong.  I cannot.  If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad.  And free will...
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“Hope is More Than Happiness”

Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist is mostly a sad tale of an innocent and earnest boy struggling with the evil forces that beset him—life in a workhouse, hunger, desolation, abuse by an evil genius, “the Jew” Fagin.  But Dickens needed to sell his books, and he knew the route to his readers’ satisfaction, namely, the...
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“Jogging” in Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith

“Jogging is supposed to be good for the heart, the lungs, the muscles, and physical well-being generally.  It is also said to produce a kind of euphoria known as joggers’ high.  The look of anguish and despair that contorts the faces of most of the people you see huffing and puffing away at the side...
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The Seven Perennial Sins and Their Offspring

“It has been said that one of humanity’s greatest boons is to be able to eat when we’re not hungry and to drink when we’re not thirsty.  This is due to our ability to reflect on the pleasures of the palate and our eagerness to prolong them.  According to tradition, the ancient Greek hedonist Philoxenus...
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The Shawshank Redemption: The Shooting Script

In the film The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) locks himself in the Warden’s office, and plays a recording of a duet from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro over the PA system.  The whole prison stops to listen.  Andy’s friend Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding reflects on what happened: “I have no idea...
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Against Heresies, 5.33.3 in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1

“The days will come in which vines shall grow, each having ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs, and in each true twig ten thousand shoots, and in each one of the shoots ten thousand clusters, and on every one of the clusters ten thousand grapes, and every grape when pressed will...
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Harry Emerson Fosdick: Preacher, Pastor, Prophet

Fosdick’s definition of success was intelligent and much quoted. “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave to world a bit...
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“The Pleasures of Reading”

Reading is “a serious act.” Sensual, too. Reading (as opposed to being read to) allows you to go exactly at the pace you want. (540): “I have never met a good writer who wasn’t also a penetrating reader; and every good writer, with varying degrees of consciousness and subtlety, is also a plagiarist.” (542): Justice...
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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Freud claimed that people on cocaine, enjoying the well-being and euphoria it produces, are normal. “They have what in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person.” How about this? Are all the rest of us depressed by sin, anxiety, dull inattention? Will the new heaven and earth be like a cocaine...
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A Separate Peace

Gene Forrester (age 16) speaks: “It was hard to remember when one summer day after another broke with a cool effulgence over us, and there was a breath of widening life in the morning air–something hard to describe–an oxygen intoxicant, a shining northern paganism, some odor, some feeling so hopelessly promising that I would fall...
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The Sacred Journey

Buechner came alive through George Buttrick’s preaching in New York: “It was not just his eloquence that kept me coming back, though he was wonderfully eloquent, literate, imaginative, never letting you guess what he was going to come out with next, but twitching with surprises up there in the pulpit, his spectacles a-glitter in the...
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“On Fairy-Stories” in The Tolkien Reader

“[The fairy tale] does not deny the existence of . . . sorrow and failure; the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of the deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence if you will) universal final defeat . . . , giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls...
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Telling the Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale

“You pull the shade on the snow falling, white on white, and the child comes to life for a moment. There is a fragrance in the air, a certain passage of a song, an old photograph falling out from the pages of a book, the sound of somebody’s voice in the hall that makes your...
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Where the Red Fern Grows: The Story of Two Dogs and a Boy

“When I left my office that beautiful spring day, I had no idea what was in store for me. To begin with, everything was too perfect for anything unusual to happen. It was one of those days when a man feels good, feels like speaking to his neighbor, is glad to live in a country...
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