Friday, July 24, 2015

The Force Awakens Opening Scroll

Here are some more of my thoughts about what we may see in The Force Awakens. If any of my guesses are correct, we will probably find out in the opening scroll.

In THE FORCE AWAKENS, we have two main factions at war: THE FIRST ORDER and THE RESISTANCE. There may also be a powerful criminal organization at play that has filled the void caused by Jabba the Hutt’s death and the inability of the old GALACTIC EMPIRE and REBEL ALLIANCE to devote enough resources to maintain law and order after suffering significant losses at the Battle of Endor.
THE FIRST ORDER (bringing order out of chaos) looks to be a restructured Galactic Empire. If that is the case, it appears the Rebels and the Imperials fought to a standstill, perhaps with an armistice agreement in place. Each side now has control of part of the galaxy with a contested area between the two that has become lawless and controlled by competing criminal organizations.
Members of the Rebel Alliance who remained in the First Order’s territory (or who lived in territory recently regained by the First Order) have organized into THE RESISTANCE. The Resistance feels abandoned by the former leaders of the Rebel Alliance who failed to finish the fight against the Empire. A resistance movement almost always refers to a group in occupied territory fighting against an invader. Who knows, maybe Finn (dressed as a stormtrooper in some scenes) is actually an undercover resistance agent.
Whatever the Rebel Alliance has now become (The New Republic?), by failing to finish the fight, the First Order has been able to rebuild its forces over the last 30 years and is now ready to resume the war again.
Another possibility—and this would be a shock—is that the Rebel Alliance, unable to consolidate power and maintain order after the defeat of the Empire, formed the First Order and offered amnesty to the remaining Imperial forces if they would join them as their military/police force. This government subsequently devolved into a police state. Members of the Rebel Alliance who were opposed to this turn of events then organized into the Resistance.
Because the Empire was created through the machinations of two people, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader (a former Jedi), the new Rebel Alliance government feared a resurgence of the Jedi Order. Luke Skywalker fell into disfavor with the Alliance and retreated from public life into exile. Few knew of Leia’s relation to Luke, so she remained as a leader of the Rebel Alliance until she left it to lead the Resistance.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Marie Durand, not famous, but not forgotten either

If kids think biographies are boring, they probably haven’t read anything by Simonetta Carr. She sees each life as a story, and her Christian Biographies for Young Readers series is gaining more space on my bookcase with each title she releases. Although these books are written and illustrated to capture the attention of children aged 7 to 12, even my four- and two-year-old children crowd in to see the pictures and hear me tell them what’s going on.

I had not heard of Marie Durand before picking up this book. She didn’t write major theological works or start a revolution. In fact, her main claim to fame is that she spent most of her life in prison. At the young age of 19 she found herself incarcerated in deplorable conditions for one reason—she was a Protestant in Catholic France. In one fell swoop she lost her fiancĂ© and the hope of a normal life. Her youth and adulthood were snatched away as she spent 38 years in prison. She would never marry, had no children, and suffered much hardship. No wonder I hadn’t heard of her before! However, I suspect that she is more famous in heaven now than many of the better-known personalities in Ms. Carr’s series. And for that reason, it’s a book worth reading.

Everyone suffers trials. Even children. Marie Durand was only 19. Her story is one of much loss and heartache, but she resisted and didn’t give up her faith. Children need to hear stories of brokenness and courage as much as they need stories of conquest and victory because they will experience both. They need exposure to people and stories in situations vastly different than what they’ve experienced. It helps them grow. It teaches them that God will be with them through anything that comes their way.

I received this book in exchange for a candid review. The opinions expressed are my own.

June in Review

June was a big month for the kids. Maybe that’s why I’m so late getting this out. Lukas started potty training, which means “big boy” underwear, candy rewards, and, of course, accidents. He was a quick learner, though, much to our joy. Abigail also spent some time in training. Hannah signed her up for swimming lessons at a local pool.
The lessons were more about teaching kids to be comfortable in the water. By the time she was done Abby was able to stick her head in the water to blow bubbles, float on a pool noodle, and kick her legs at the side of the pool. I took her out for an ice cream cone at McDonald’s to celebrate. 

The following week Abigail and Lukas went to Fall Creek Baptist Church’s Vacation Bible School while Hannah helped out, leaving me with some time in the evening to work on my Hebrew homework. Since VBS meant the kids couldn’t get to bed at their normal 8:00 pm bedtime, both kids were getting tired. I kept Lukas with me one of the days and we had fun playing with his toys, wrestling on the floor, and watching a movie.
He got to bed on time, leaving me a little while to work on my homework before Hannah and Abby came back.

Hannah and I had more to celebrate in June than just Abby’s swimming lessons. The fourteenth marked our seventh wedding anniversary. We enjoyed some Cuban sandwiches in Broad Ripple for dinner and walked around taking in the sights. At the end of the month we went to the Indianapolis Zoo with our friends Raul and Magda and their children, Saul and Mia. 
The kids’ favorite part was a dog show where trainers and dogs showed off their tricks catching Frisbees and running through an obstacle course. Hannah and I were most enthralled with the dolphin show where the animals waved, jumped, did flips, and all manner of tricks to a jamming sound track.

Church kept us busy too. Early in the month I preached a message from Jonah in Spanish at Enfoque. I also taught the youth and young adults lessons on friendships and on expanding their horizons and benefitting from relationships with people outside of their current life stage, especially older people and people from other cultural backgrounds. We also had fun playing games like foursquare and going to see Jurassic World at an IMAX theater. Hannah was able to go to a women’s group meeting after church, something she always enjoys going to.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Another prediction about Star Wars: The Force Awakens

We've seen a two teaser trailers. We've seen some behind the scenes footage. Time for another prediction about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

In the first trailer we saw the Millenium Falcon soaring over the desert evading laser blasts from two TIE Fighters. In the second trailer we saw more of that chase as the Falcon flies up the exhaust of a crashed Imperial ship. But we also saw more. We see Han Solo and Chewbacca on board with blasters drawn.
We also saw everyone's new favorite droid, BB-8, peeking around a bulkhead, likely looking at our heroes.
And in the behind-the-scenes featurette, we see Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), the young female lead who is described as a scavenger, in the cockpit of the Falcon. One scene shows her flying solo (forgive the pun) at one point, and at the end has her in the co-pilot's chair next to Han Solo.
You can bet that part of her scavenging included finding the Falcon on Jakku and repairing it. It's finder's keeper's in a scavenger's world, especially if you fix what you find. Even though she and Solo will both be on the same team, I anticipate some humorous-and maybe tense-back-and-forth between those two regarding whose ship the Falcon really is. In the long run, I think it's going to be hers.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The story of the most famous missionary in the SBC

Lottie Moon is the most famous Southern Baptist missionary of all time. Shortly after her death, an annual Christmas offering bearing her name was established to help fund mission work around the world. Despite her fame, very little substantive material is available about her life. Christian Focus Publications just released a title that helps fill that void: Lottie Moon: Changing China for Christ by Nancy Drummond.

I had heard some about Lottie Moon, but even a short children’s book filled me in on so much more. She was a trickster in her youth who mocked religion only to succumb to God’s drawing. After her sister went to China to serve as a missionary, Lottie joined her less than a year later. She served where others, including her sister, fell too ill to stay. The missionary life was challenging in China in the late 1800s. Westerners with little preparation to live in a vastly different culture often suffered bouts of debilitating depression. She saw colleagues married on the field who would either die or leave the field a short time later. She lived through the American Civil War. She came much closer to danger during the Boxer Rebellion in China.

This small, 160-page book is perfect for middle school-aged kids. The chapters are short enough to give young readers a feeling of accomplishment as they work through the book. There’s humor, joy, sadness, and awe. Girls will especially be inspired by Lottie’s courage. She wrote back to the States and called for more workers and more funds. She made her voice heard at a time when women didn’t even have the right to vote.

I highly recommend this book. Find a way to share it with the young people at your church. Use it as a giveaway at AWANA or Girls in Action or Royal Ambassadors. Highlight it in the lead up to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. People should know who this woman was because she laid it all out for the sake of Christ.

I received a review copy of this book from Christian Focus Publications.