Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Fireproof" is hot!

The film "Fireproof" scored number 4 at opening weekend box offices.
According to "Faith and Family Live" blogger Lisa Hendey.
Nice films do finish first, sometimes!
Here is a report from "Focus on the Family"
Even the mainstream media have been forced to add their accolades.
Fireproof — the new pro-marriage movie from the folks who made Facing the Giants — wowed Hollywood by opening at No. 4 over the weekend. The movie, which cost less than $1 million to make, brought in $6.5 million.
Fireproof also boasted the year’s second-best opening weekend of any film released on 1,000 screens or fewer.
"I was hoping and praying for at least a Top 10 opening," said Bob Waliszewski, director of Focus on the Family's Plugged In magazine and Web site. "I'm very excited to see it's No. 4.
"It does send a message that there's still pent-up demand for good, wholesome family entertainment."
Even the mainstream media have been forced to add their accolades. The New York Times called Fireproof "a decent attempt to combine faith and storytelling that will certainly register with its target audience."
The Los Angeles Times went so far as to call it "a mainstream relationship flick."

Fireproof - PG

Warning: potential spoilers.

I was very anxious to see 'Fireproof', and it didn't disappoint.

From the previews, it is obvious that it it is about a marriage that is in trouble. However, I was unprepared for the level of anger and hatred that Caleb (Kirk Cameron) and Catherine (Erin Bethea) displayed toward eachother early in the movie. Caleb is a fireman, a Captain. It is clear that there are 2 major reasons for their marriage being in trouble; Caleb is addicted to internet porn, and neither of them really includes God in their life. Caleb seems to have a problem with women. He doesn't get along well with his mother either. At one point, he says to his father "Why did you have to bring her?".

Caleb's father gives him a book that saved his own marriage. It is a 40-day plan to save his marriage. Caleb tries it, but Catherine is not very receptive. Most of the movie is watching him try to win her back. His co-workers are giving him advice and sugggestions, but her co-workers convince her that he is trying to take everything from her.

Two notes about the ending: 1. It brought me to tears. 2. Everyone in the theatre was applauding.

two words: See it!

cross-posted on A Catholic View

Friday, September 26, 2008

Democratic analyst: The Party has been hijacked by secularist elites

cross-posted from A Catholic View

The Democratic Party has been hijacked by elites hostile to religion, said Mark Stricherz, author of the book "Why Democrats are Blue" and a Democrat himself, during the Casey Lecture delivered on Tuesday at the Archdiocese of Denver.

The Casey Series of Lectures was started by the Archdiocese of Denver in 2006 to promote Catholic thinking in political life, inspired by the life and political activism of the late Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey, a devout Catholic and a Democrat.

Stricherz, who has focused his investigation on the historical transition that turned the Democrats from a Catholic-friendly organization to the pro-abortion rights party it is today, explained the decisive role played in American politics by staunch Catholic Democrats like Gov. Casey, Robert Kennedy and David Lawrence.

"These politicians provided a political leadership and a push for human rights based on religious convictions and personal prayer life, thus becoming promoters of Christian Humanist values," he said.

Full Review here

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Behind the Scenes with Kirk Cameron of "Fireproof" which opens this weekend

Anita Crane, former editor of "Celebrate Life" magazine interviewed Cameron for Spero News. "In Fireproof, Cameron stars as Captain Caleb Holt, a brave firefighter who saves strangers from peril. Nevertheless, after Caleb nearly dies while rescuing a child, he says, “The newspaper called me twice wanting an interview. Seems I’m a hero with everybody in the world, except my wife.”

Fireproof is the third feature film written by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick of Sherwood Pictures in Albany, Georgia – a project of Sherwood Baptist Church where they are pastors, producers and directors. Their last film, Facing the Giants, was panned by some critics, but popular among Christians.
Stephen Kendrick said, “We’re not going to Hollywood trying to win an Academy award. We are in the trenches, working with couples on a day-to-day basis.” So, instead of the usual fiction where boy-meets-girl, they sleep together, quarrel and somehow end up together, Kendrick said, “We decided that we wanted to take the audience on a journey of what’s really going on in marriages right now.”
Don't leave your partner behind. Bring him to this p0werful film.
Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No one is beyond the grace of God

This powerful conversion story of the writer who wrote the script for "Basic Instinct"(known for pushing the envelope with it's sexual content) and "Showgirls" proves that it's not too late to convert anyone in Hollywood.
In his book, Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith, the former senior editor of the Rolling Stone, Joe Eszterhas, explains his conversion.
Eszterhas grew up in refugee camps in Hungary during World War II before living in the back alleys of Cleveland. It was there that he worked as a police reporter racing to cover “countless shootings” and “urban riots,” he told the Toledo Blade.
At the time, his life was very dark—one filled with death, murder, crime and chaos. He describes his writing as equally dark and also “sexually graphic.”

And then he had a 'road to Damascus' conversion. Someone was praying for him. Now he is in love with the Holy Eucharist. It's such a powerful story, and one that can be repeated.
We all need to pray for Hollywood.
Read the entire article at CNA

Powerful Pro-Marriage Film "Fireproof" Opens in Theatres This Friday

At a time when the majority of marriages end in divorce, the makers of the popular "Facing the Giants" movie are bringing to select theatres a film that has already inspired numerous couples to strengthen, and, in many cases, to rescue, their marriages.

Opening this Friday in 850 theatres across America, "Fireproof" is the inspiring story of a devoted and heroic firefighter whose marriage is on the brink of eruption, and who, in response to a challenge from his father, begrudingly sets out on a 40 day quest to salvage his relationship with his wife.

The film stars Kirk Cameron, the one time teen-star of the popular TV show "Growing Pains," who has for many years devoted himself to using his talents for wholesome projects.

The film has already been met with widespread acclaim, particularly amongst the evangelical base that forms the film's target audience. However, "Fireproof" has also been embraced many of no faith, who have responded to the movie's message about the power of selfless love and its practical, realistic portrayal of how to go about rescuing a marriage that seems beyond the point of no return.

story here

cross-posted on A Catholic View

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Leading Catholic entrepreneur pens book on how people should relate to money

Many in our society view money as a “necessary evil.” Instead, entrepreneur and author, Frank Hanna explains, “money is a gift from God that is frequently abused because of our lack of understanding of its proper use.” Based on ancient teachings and his own personal experiences, Hanna clearly lays out the meaning of money in his new book, “What Your Money Means and How to Use It Well.”

Hanna, CEO of Hanna Capital and co-founder of the Solidarity Foundation, explained to CNA that he wrote his latest book because though many great thinkers had discussed money in their teachings, he found that there was not “a systematic treatment of the topic for those of us living in the 21st century.” As he explains, his task is to unfold “this historical philosophical thinking” about money, but to make it “current for today’s reader.”

The book focuses on questions we ask ourselves about money: are we spending it as we should? What does our money mean to us? How much money is enough? In his book, Hanna resolves “to figure out – once and for all – just what it means for us to have money, and what we should be doing with it.”

Full Review here

cross-posted on A Catholic View

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ground-Breaking New Series for Catholic ‘Tweens

Catholic women everywhere have been encouraged to embrace their worth in celebration of the 20th anniversary of John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignitatem, his Apostolic Letter on the Dignity and Vocation of Women. Some have participated in the Catholic Exchange woman’s study, others have attended retreats and workshops, while still others have made personal commitments to spend more time studying Church teachings and various documents such as Mulieris Dignitatem.

It is such a beautiful time to be a Catholic woman and embrace our relationship with Christ. We are being encouraged to seek out writings that clarify what we mean to Jesus and how He treated women quite differently than the “norm” of His time. Many of us are finally learning to “own” that knowledge. But before we became women of God we were young girls seeking to know ourselves and often succumbing to secular messages. Indeed, it can sadly be said that as grown women we often, still, mistakenly buy into the same messages that inundate our young girls today.

cross-posted on A Catholic View

story here

Quick Looks at Some Movies and a Book

One Door Away From Heaven by Dean Koontz
“Geneva, even if the girl isn’t making up all this stuff, even if she’s in real danger, you can’t take the law into your hands.”

“There’s lots of law these days,” she interrupted, “but not much justice. Celebrities murder their wives and go free. A mother kills her children, and the news people on TV say she’s the victim and want you to send money to her lawyers. When everything’s upside down like this, what fool just sits back and thinks justice will prevail?”

This was a different woman from the one with whom he had been speaking a moment ago. Her green eyes were flinty now. Her sweet face hardened as he wouldn’t have thought possible.

“If Micky doesn’t do this,” she continued, “that sick b*****d will kill Leilani, and it’ll be as if she never existed, and no one but me and Micky will care what the world lost. You better believe it’ll be a loss, too, because this girl is the right stuff, she’s a shining soul. These days people make heroes out of actors, singers, power-mad politicians. How screwed up are things when that’s what hero has come to mean? I’d trade the whole self-important lot of ‘em for this girl. She’s got more steel in her spine and more true heart than a thousand of those so-called heroes. Have another cookie?
UFOs, aliens, an empathetic dog, a crippled girl, and a host of supporting characters overcoming past traumas to reach out to others are all are combined by Dean Koontz in a book that is the most compelling statement I have ever seen made about the right to life, no matter what one's condition. As always with his novels, few things are what they seem.Two basic plots run parallel before their heroes find themselves coming together to fight off a very evil villain. "What is one door away from heaven," is a question that one character has asked another since her childhood. The answer, along with the overall theme of the book, is enough to make us all examine our lives more carefully ... and be thankful that Koontz's writing reflects his beliefs so honestly. Grade: ****

On the Waterfront
"Some people think the Crucifixion only took place on Calvary. Well, they better wise up!"
No one in Hollywood today has the guts to write a priestly role like the one Karl Malden played. Also Marlon Brando give us a fantastic look at someone who was raised without very little moral guidance and now has to find his own way amid much conflicting advice. I got this from the library and then was cooling off on it until Tom and I read the description on the back which definitely put us in the mood to see it. I share it with you here:
Marlon Brando gives one of the screen's most electrifying performances as Best Actor in this 1954 Academy Award® winner for Best Film. Ex-fighter Terry Malloy (Brando) could have been a contender but now toils for boss Johnny Friendly on the gang-ridden waterfront. Terry is guilt-stricken however when he lures a rebellious worker to his death. But it takes the love of Edie Doyle, the dead man's sister, to show Terry how low he has fallen. When his crooked brother, Charley the Gent, is brutally murdered for refusing to kill him Terry battles to crush Friendly's underworld empire.
I was glad that I had recently read Good News Film Reviews' tip about spotting crosses and crucifixes right before watching this. You wouldn't think so unless you keep an eye out but there is symbolism all over the place. Truly an excellent drama about redemption. Personally speaking, I'm not sure I'll want to watch it again but am glad I watched it overall. Grade - ***

Sunset Blvd.
"The poor dope. He always wanted a pool."
This movie starts off watching a dead man floating in a pool, with a voice over from the man himself. You then hear this quote and you remember that Billy Wilder's dialogue crackles with verve and multiple layers of meaning. We then flash back to see the story of Joe who is an aspiring screenwriter but on the run from repo men when he dodges into a driveway to throw them off the track. He finds a dilapidated house from the 1920's and Gloria Swanson as the equally dilapidated former silent screen star who lives in the past and is planning her comeback. Joe finds himself lured into becoming her rewrite man and gigolo.

This is an unforgettable film that is a blistering expose of Hollywood which still holds true today. Interestingly many stars of the silent screen had parts in this to add authenticity and Cecil B. DeMille actually played a much more significant role than we would have thought ... and did so with surprising gentleness and charm. Grade: ****


cross-posted from A Catholic View

Just wanted to give you all a "heads up" on some new garbage coming Oct 3 from the rabidly anti-Catholic Bill Maher. For those of you who are not familiar with Maher, here is a good rundown from the Catholic League:

"I have hated the Church way before anyone else."
-Bill Maher, May 8, 2002 on "Politically Incorrect"

Bill Maher is America's Biggest Bigot.

How do we know? Consider the following:

Bill Maher, comedian and famed atheist, has long been the biggest bigot in Hollywood. While Maher professes to loathe all religions, his favorite target is the Catholic Church. Indeed, he rarely aims his venom at Islam or Judaism. And while he does enjoy taking shots at Evangelicals, it is clear that he is monomaniacal in his contempt for Catholicism. Below is a sampling of what he has said about the Church throughout his years in showbiz.

full rundown here

Friday, September 19, 2008

Brad Pitt's Homosexual Activism Peaks with $100,000 Donation against Authentic Marriage Amendment

cross-posted from A Catholic View

Another "celebrity" injects himself into politics and passes himself off as an expert on the issues.

Brad Pitt, an actor who for many epitomizes the lack of commitment to marriage, has once again taken a shot at marriage as the union of one man and one woman with a major donation to homosexual 'marriage' activists. Pitt announced yesterday that he is donating $100,000 to fight California's Proposition 8, a measure on the November ballot that would enable California voters to retain the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Pitt has a history of promoting homosexual activism since breaking up with former wife Jennifer Aniston in 2005 after five years of marriage. His trysts with actress Angelina Jolie were reported prior to his divorce from Aniston. In 2006, while living with Jolie he announced that they would not marry until homosexual 'marriage' was permitted in the United States. In an Esquire article in October 2006 Pitt wrote, "Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able." That sounds more like an excuse for them to not marry.

story here

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series

Yes, I've read them. I have very mixed feelings about them. Are they appropriate for children? No. Stephenie Meyer writes about seventeen year olds, and thus these books might be intended for seventeen year olds but that doesn't mean that these books are appropriate for young adults. I mean just because Edward and Bella don't do anything but kiss and clutch, they still share the same bed night after night, all the while keeping her father in the dark. Some have told me, "It's completely innocent." How can that be true when Bella herself says she loses control everytime their lips touch?

Let me backtrack...Bella moves to Forks, Washington after living in Phoenix, Arizona most of her life. Her first day at a new school, she notices the beautiful but distant Cullens family. She sits next to Edward Cullens in science and senses that he hates her. She also notices his black irises, (in his eyes, not flowers) and his extremely cold skin. Edward misses the next few days of school. Much of the story is told in the mind of Bella, not much action or dialogue compared to the inner workings of Bella's psyche.

Speeding things up, Bella falls for Edward, who now has topaz irises. She is warned to stay away from him and his family, by Charlie Black who is fifteen year old Jacob's grandfather. Jacob tells Bella about his tribe's legends and why the Cullens aren't allowed on LaPush Reservation land. He refers to the Cullens as the "cold ones" and his own tribe as the protectors. Bella clues in and does some internet research on vampires.

She asks Edward about his "family" and learns that the Cullens are "vegetarian" vampires. They have chosen not to feed on human prey, rather they hunt wild game: grizzlies, mountain lions, elk. Vampires are created, not born (by surviving a vampire bite). Carlisle, the patriarch of this group, or "coven" of vampires was created by an attacking vampire in the 1600s. He has never taken a human life, and rather uses his superior senses to heal, working as a physician in the local hospital. The other vampires, Esme, Edward, Jasper, Alice, Emmet, and Rosalie were either created by Carlisle, because they were on the brink of human death, or created by others, led to Forks and willingly joined the Cullen way of life.

Now there are still plenty of other vampires, who murder innocent humans for food, and sometimes they visit the Cullens. But the Cullens respectfully ask them not to "hunt" in their area, so usually they go out of state. Jacob, and other young male members of his tribe, the Quileute tribe, have spontaneously starting changing into werewolves. They phase back and forth between human and wolf form, and strive to hunt vampires. We find out in the 4th book that they aren't actually werewolves but shape-shifters.

So that's the back story. I have not read the third installment, but the first two books are steeped with what Publishers' Weekly calls "sexual tension." I hate to criticize anyone's writing skill, but when Bella asks Edward in New Moon, "Do you want me for my body or my blood?" I actually laughed out loud. As far as an overall theme of good vs. evil, the plot of the book appears to be keep Bella alive, safe from friends, good vampires and bad ones, so that she and Edward can test their willpower while they fool around with each other's lips and bodies. There is some discussion of souls, heaven and hell and whether or not Edward believes he has a soul, which make these books slightly better than paperback horror/romances. Granted, in Breaking Dawn, Bella and Edward do wait until their wedding night, and she does choose to keep her half vampire baby against everyone's advice. However, her reckless moral behavior prevents her from becoming a true heroine. (I did not read the third book, Eclipse, as I do not want to spend my money on these, and the waiting list at the library is very long.)
Not Recommended.
cross-posted on A Catholic Mom's Guide to Good Books.

TG provides an alternative magazine for young Catholic women

When I was a young woman in the 80’s, picking up a copy of “Glamour” meant nothing more than a chance to read up on fashion trends and make-up tips. Now such magazines push an agenda which is increasingly hostile to the faith. What can a young Catholic woman read? Must she settle for reading their mother’s housekeeping magazines?

That is what inspired TG editor Heather Gaffney, the magazine’s editor and mother of two. She has a Master’s in Education and a heart for evangelization through the media. She bought the rights to “True Girl” magazine, which many of you may have subscribed to until it stopped publishing a while ago, bringing a good idea back to life; a magazine for the young Catholic woman who wants a good read on a wide range of subjects of interest to her. Heather believes that a magazine can offer topics of interest to the whole woman, body, mind and soul, without offending Our Lady, who graces the cover of the first, sample copy of the magazine. Her philosophy is, “TG magazine strives to encourage and support young women. Using fashion, fun and the Gospel message of the Catholic Church, TG will educate and motivate ladies in friendship and the love of Jesus Christ.” TG is dedicated to St. John Bosco, patron of youth whose motto was, “Enjoy yourself as much as you like- if only you keep from sin”.

TG offers a wide variety of articles, ranging from media reviews, recipes, new product suggestions, make-up and fashion tips, advice from a priest, and articles on the Catholic faith. The August/September issue features a World Youth Day theme which includes some facts on tourist attractions in Australia, an article on the history of World Youth Day, and reflections from a young woman who attended the Holy Father’s Youth Rally in New York last April. There is a review of the inspirational book, “The Ultimate Gift”, instructions for making a beautiful decoupage cross with plenty of pictures, recipes for fruit smoothies, tips on how to keep make-up fresh, and a review of the singer Feist. Calendars which mention everything from the sublime (feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) to the trivial (National Aviation Day) and a biography of St. Claire, whose feast falls on August 11, complete the assortment of articles. The articles are well written and informative without being tedious.
TG has a fresh, contemporary look with a real life cover girl, Michelle Herman, a home-schooled junior, whose lovely smile just happens to show her braces. She is fashionably yet modestly dressed, and has the wholesome good looks of the girl next door.
If your life includes a beautiful girl next door, you would do well to give her a gift subscription to this bi-monthly magazine.

Renewal subscriptions for former subscribers of “True Girl” magazine is $18.95; new subscriptions are only $1 more.
To order, visit the magazine’s website.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In New Book Actor Dan Akroyd Says he Would Support Bestiality if Animals Were Sentient, Bashes Catholicism

Here's some Catholic-bashing to avoid. It's even disguised as a "Catholic" book.

A new book on the shelves called "Being Catholic Now" has sparked the ire of some Catholics. Catholic League President Bill Donohue lambasted the book in an interview with today, noting that the offering compiled by Kerry Kennedy is filled with contributions from anti-Catholics, wayward Catholics and only a few authentic Catholics.

"The Kerry Kennedy book is rather amazing," Donohue told "It's called 'Being Catholic Now,' yet many people in the book reject the Church's teaching on almost everything. Some of them are outright haters of the Catholic Church, and they admit that. Many of them have fallen away, and they admit that. So you have to wonder about the title."

cross-posted on
A Catholic View

story here

Monday, September 15, 2008

Good News for Movie Lovers

Jeffrey Overstreet has a new monthly column at Christianity Today, Through a Screen Darkly. Observant readers, with loooong memories, might remember Overstreet's book of the same name which I loved.

Overstreet not only clues us in to The Island, a move that it sounds as if Christians will love (no not that Island with Ewan McGregor ... this is a different movie, a Russian movie) but also ... even more excitingly ... tells us about a movie distributor, Film Movement, that offers films too often missed by American distributors.
He set out to find buried treasure all over the world so he could mail it out to moviegoers, inspiring questions and conversation. "We don't want our movies to be available only in the big cities," he says. "Our movies are available theatrically in cities like New York and L.A., but there are a lot of people who don't have an arthouse theater near them."
Along the way I saw names of several movies in the article that I am going to look for. Read the article and check out the links. Sounds as if we can look forward to some modern forgotten classics being pointed out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Righteous Kill - R

Turk (DeNiro) and Rooster (Pacino) are cops who have been partners over 30 years. They are investigating a vigilante who kills criminals who have walked despite their crimes. They include a rapist, a drug dealer, and a hit man. The thing that bothered me is that they had to include a pedophile priest as one of the "victims". I don't think that was necessary to the story. It was just a chance to malign the Church. Two other detectives, Perez and Riley, are also investigating the killings. Next to each of the victims is a poem explaining why they were killed. All 4 detectives agree that they are probably looking for a copy or ex-cop. Karen Corelli is also a detective who is also dating De Niro. There are two sex scenes involving them. The story is mostly narrated by the killer. Look for a twist at the end: things (and people) are not always what they appear to be. I enjoy movies where you can't figure out the ending.

Content warnings: 2 sex scenes with Turk and Karen, and the F word is used quite a bit. Other than that, the usual shooting and violence you'd expect in an R-rated cop movie.

cross-posted on A Catholic View

Friday, September 12, 2008

Eleven Thought-Provoking Films to Look For This Fall

compiled by Marc T. Newman

At the beginning of every year, instead of compiling some backward-looking “Top Ten” list, I put together a list of upcoming films that I believe will be useful in sparking conversations about spiritual, moral, and ethical issues. So far, most of the films identified have met expectations. Okay, not enough people saw the X-Files sequel to merit much conversation, Inkheart has been moved to January (rarely a good sign), the latest Star Trek film has been moved to a summer date - a sign that the studio thinks it will be a big hit, but it will be competing with the next installment of Harry Potter, which was moved from its original November release date.

complete list here

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Book Review: Hear My Voice

Obviously, with two kids in college I am way past the age where I'd need this book. However, I still remember vividly how difficult it was for little ones to get through that hour sometimes.

Hear My Voice strikes me as a very good way to help children begin to have an understanding of what the adults are talking about in the Gospel readings and homilies that follow. I received a galley to read and can vouch for exactly what the publisher describes:
These passages are suggested for parents to read with children the evening before mass. As the hectic schedule of our Saturdays winds down, take time to shift gears for the time we put aside for worship, reflection and communion. Including your children in the message of the mass with a reading and discussion of the week's gospel will make the mass a shared experience of hearing God's word for both parent and child. These translations are also an extraordinary teacher's aid for Sunday school and children's bible study. Each passage is translated in large text that is inviting to the beginning reader, and is printed side-by-side with the adult text for comparison, explanation and parents' review.

These pages are not fictionalized children's stories, they are translations of Jesus' story, true to His message. They are not sugar-coated or watered-down; children can understand the truth in God's word when it is simply written for their reading level, offered in their cadence and vocabulary. Even educated adults often find the language of the Gospels difficult to fully understand, and often turn to study guides and footnotes to wring more understanding out of words written in an old English voice so far removed from our own daily language. The voice of these stories is not changed to be hip or to use today's slang. The gravity and holiness of God's word demands better than that. But there is no reason for outdated and too-advanced language to stand between our children and Jesus' message. Adults as well, have gained insights into the passages through the shared process of bringing the word to children.
This is a really wonderful resource not only in helping children understand the Gospel but in relating it to their own lives. I also really liked that the reading as it would be heard in the church was printed alongside the children's version ... and that the pages are labeled by their place in the liturgical calendar. This not only helps prepare the family for mass but gives them something to discuss later. I could envision remembering a key point of the homily that might relate to the reading done with children the night before for conversations on the way home. Thus one sets the pattern for the entire family of thoughtful participation in the Mass.

You don't have to take my word for it though. Four sample spreads are available to read in pdf format ... just go here and click on any picture you like to see the whole spread.

Hear My Voice will be published in October in preparation for the new liturgical year. You may purchase a copy directly from the publisher.

Highly recommended.