Preaching Connection: Life

Home » Life

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…

Explore

Decalogue 1 (1989)

Decalogue I (1989).  Written by Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz.  Directed by Kryszstof Kieslowski.  Cinematography by Wieslaw Zdort.  Music by Zbigniew Preisner.  Starring Henryk Baranowski , Maja Komorowska, and Wojciech Klata.  Facets Edition.  Rating:  G, 56 mins.  Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. How to know God, if there is a God? This is the question that in…

Explore

The Thin Red Line (1998) – 2

The Thin Red Line (1998).  Written and directed Terrence Malick.  Starring James Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, and Elias Koteas.  170 mins; rated R.  Metacritic: 78%; Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. The main character here is Witt (James Caviezel), a seasoned WWII foot soldier who finds himself on the island of Guadalcanal amid “clean up” operations after…

Explore

Awakenings (1990)

Awakenings (1990).  Written by Oliver Sacks (book) and Steven Zaillian (screenplay). Directed by Penny Marshall.  Starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.  Rating: PG-13. 121 minutes.  Rotten Tomatoes: 88%; Metacritic 74%. So there is Leonard L. (Robert De Niro), virtually a lifelong victim of a baffling disease, later understood as a form of Parkinsonianism, apparently…

Explore

A Man Called Ove (2015) – 1

Written and Directed by Hannes Holm (based on novel by Fredrik Bachman).  Starring Rolf Lassgård, Filip Berg, Bahar Paris, and Ida Engvoll. 116 minutes. Rated PG-13. Ove is an ornery, rather embittered old so-and-so, or so it seems.  Recently widowed, he lives alone in a small Swedish condo complex over which, as its one-time association…

Explore

American Beauty (1999) – 1

Written by Alan Ball. Starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, and Chris Cooper. 122 mins. Rated R (graphic language and sexual situations). So mid-life Lester (Kevin Spacey) has got himself into a horrible, very bad fix. Though a husband and father, he has fallen, as through a trap-door, into a state of…

Explore

Reading for Preaching

How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life

“Everyone hopes to reach old age, but when it comes, most of us complain about it.  People can be so foolish and inconsistent.”
Explore

“A Literary Education”

Citing Milan Kundera, Epstein reminds us that good literature always complicates.  “The novelist says to the reader: things are not as simple as you think. . . life is more surprising, bizarre, fascinating, complex, and rich than any shibboleth, concept, or theory used to explain it.”  In reading good writers we get “a strong taste...
Explore

Mere Christianity

“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is his) will not come as long as you are looking for it.  It will come when you are looking for him.  Does that sound strange?  The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters.  Even in social life...
Explore

The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Unbelief

Marsden comments on the subtitle of his book.  “Persons concerned about the place of religion in American life might be particularly concerned that the largely voluntary and commendable disestablishment of religion [on campus] has led to the virtual establishment of nonbelief, or the near exclusion of religious perspectives from dominant academic life.  While American universities...
Explore

Gilead

John Ames reflects on the advantage of providing pastoral care to people.  Each person is a unique divine thought.  Each is a deeply valuable life.  “When people come to me, whatever they say, I am struck by a kind of incandescence in them, the ‘I’ whose predicate can be ‘love’ or ‘fear’ or ‘want,’ and...
Explore

The Mill on the Floss

“Ugly people have great need of unusual virtues, because they are likely to be extremely uncomfortable without them. But the theory that unusual virtues spring by a direct consequence out of personal disadvantages, as animals get thicker wool in severe climates, is perhaps a little overstrained. For there are temptations of hunger just as well...
Explore

Alistair Cooke’s America

“In a motion picture of the 1930’s, the hero was a young American from the prairie arriving in England to take up a Rhodes scholarship. He settled for his first trip to Oxford into the smugness of an English ‘railway carriage’ and found himself sitting opposite an English parson buried in his newspaper. As the...
Explore

Craddock on the Craft of Preaching

Craddock lived quite a while, and noticed seemingly everything interesting about human life. One thing he noticed is that, again and again, when the overlay of local customs has been peeled back human life takes certain familiar forms or patterns. [People who hear stories of certain happenings say, “That happened to my sister, too.” Or,...
Explore

“Before He Became a Saint,” a review of David Herbert Donald’s Lincoln

October, 1995: there are 7,000 books about Lincoln. The authors of most of them “began by assuming that he was a Great Man, then dutifully worked their way back through his life in search of clues as to how he got that way.” Lincoln’s real life was a sequence of twists and turns that could...
Explore

In the Beauty of the Lilies

”’Everything passes,’ his father said huskily. ‘This too shall pass away’ are words more comforting than any I ever found in the Bible. Abraham Lincoln said them, in a speech before the war between the states. He was referring to a story about an Eastern potentate who asked wise men for a sentence that would...
Explore

Stranger in Two Worlds

“Russia is the other side of the world: its flowers must be different. But they aren’t, and in the weeks that followed, as I travelled over that broad country, I saw them all again and again, zinnias, petunias, begonias, calendulas, asters, and all the other familiar flowers that grew in my garden at home. When...
Explore

How to Read a Book

“If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it? Good God, we would also be happy if we had no books, and such books as make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. But what we must have...
Explore

The Song of the Lark

Thea Kromberg reflects on her little attic bedroom to which she had always escaped: ‘This would be her last summer in that room. Its services were over. Its time was done . . . She was not ready to leave her little shell . . . . She would never be able to think anywhere...
Explore

Band of Brothers

“’There is no such thing as getting used to combat,’ the Army psychiatrists stated in an official report on Combat Exhaustion. Each moment of combat imposes a strain so great that men will break down in direct relation to the intensity and duration of their exposure . . .psychiatric casualties are as inevitable as gunshot...
Explore

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

The traffic sounds–horns and bells and rags of music–flowed around the voices in her room . . . . She remembered the feel of wind on summer nights–how it billows through the house and wafts the curtains and smells of tar and roses. How a sleeping baby weighs so heavily on your shoulder, like ripe...
Explore

Acceptable Losses

“I was shy and she was meek . . . . she died, I think, of embarrassment, embarrassment at being alive and taking up space on the planet. There wasn’t a flicker of real life in her from the day she was born; she had the spirit of a slave.”
Explore

War and Remembrance

A character named Pug Henry reflects on aging: “A poignant sense engulfed him of the one-way flow of time, of the offhand decisions, the slight impulsive mistakes, that could swell and become a man’s fate.” Now expectations had to be reduced, desires blunted, hopes deferred, chances lost, defeats conceded.
Explore

Dad

(book jacket): This is a book ‘that makes us know what it is to lose the generations on either side of us, one to adulthood and the other to death–even as it celebrates the universe of possibilities within each individual life.  p. 6: Old people’s home have the smell of corruption—”it’s the combination of smells...
Explore

Harry Emerson Fosdick: Preacher, Pastor, Prophet

Fosdick, age 90: ‘I recall a friend of mine who, 104 years old, said: ‘When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is to get the newspaper and read the obituary notices. If I am not there, I have breakfast.’
Explore

Sighing for Eden: Sin, Evil, and the Christian Faith

Spring is depressing, especially you see “young lovers stroll among apple blossoms.” You feel yourself getting older. “You have more yesterdays on your account than tomorrows. . . . there are more doors closing behind you than opening in front of you . . . .” It was in just this frame of mind that...
Explore

The Undertaking: Live Studies from the Dismal Trade

We age with the grace (in Cummings’ careful metaphor) of polar bears on roller skates.
Explore

What’s So Good About Getting Old

In the editor’s own essay (“Graying Gracefully: Preaching to Older Adults”) we find this: “You have aged when 40 or 50 sounds young; almost everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work either; you’re not more moral than you used to be, but you do choose your sins more wisely; at 90 peer pressure thins...
Explore

“What He Was Like” in All the Days and Night

“He himself got older. His wife got older. They advanced deeper into their seventies without any sense of large changes but only of one day’s following another, and of the days being full, and pleasant, and worth recording. So he went on doing it. They all got put down in his diary, along with his...
Explore

The Liberty Campaign

The aging advertising executive Gene Trowbridge speaks: “There is a long period that precedes death, in which you are already not entirely of the world. Nothing makes sense to you anymore because it does not try or even think to relate itself to you in any way. It is as if the earth, without warning,...
Explore

A Married Man

A character named Eustace Lough on Jung: “His theory is that a man, from when he’s born until the age of thirty-five or forty, is as it were on a voyage of exploration; he is discovering and conquering the world. Anything’s possible. But there comes a point in middle age when he reaches the horizon...
Explore

The Life of Samuel Johnson

Johnson turned 28 on 9/7/1736, and recorded this prayer in his diary: “Mayest thou, O God, enable me for Jesus Christ’s sake, to spend this day in such a manner that I may receive comfort from it at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment. Amen.”
Explore