Movie Review: The Case for Christ

Set in the late 1970s and early 1980s, “The Case for Christ” is the film version of Lee Strobel’s best-selling book about his transition from outspoken atheist to devout Christian.

Mike Vogel delivers an excellent performance as the award-winning journalist (Strobel), who prides himself on a facts-only approach to life. That approach is challenged when his wife Leslie (Erika Christensen) responds to the friendly overtures of Alfie (L. Scott Caldwell), the nurse who saved their daughter from choking. After visiting Alfie’s church, Leslie starts reading the Bible and attending more services.

Alarmed at his wife’s “cult” involvement, Lee launches an investigation into Christianity, determined to disprove one of the main tenets of the faith: the resurrection of Christ. He consults with historians, theologians, archaeologists and medical experts throughout the country, hoping to find evidence that will support his hypothesis. While engrossed in his theological research, Lee becomes careless and loses objectivity while reporting a police shooting incident.

Lee’s personal life also suffers. Conversations become heated, and tensions escalate as Leslie takes distance from Lee. While visiting an out-of-town expert, Lee misses the birth of his second child. When his estranged parents visit, Lee picks a fight with his father (Robert Forster), who appears wounded and frustrated as he leaves his son’s home.

I would have liked to have seen more of Faye Dunaway. She played a cameo role as a psychologist who provides the perfect quip to Lee’s argument that 500 eyewitnesses could have been delusional when they claimed to see Jesus after his death. She replied, “That would have been an even bigger miracle than the Resurrection.”

A thought-provoking movie that addresses the existence of God.


Happy Take a Chance Day!

In celebration of Take a Chance Day and Poetry Month, I am sharing one of my favorite poems about risk-taking.

To Risk

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

The pessimist complains about the wind;

The optimist expects it to change;

And the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward


And Another Sneak Peek…

For the past two Fridays, I have shared parts of the prologue of Too Many Women in the Room. You can read Part I here and Part 2 here.

Here is Part 3 of the Prologue:

He cleared his throat. “That was some dinner conversation.” In the end, he hadn’t even sat at the table. The collective venom had driven him away.

They continued running, saying nothing. His heart beat faster and his mouth went dry. His senses were on full alert. There was danger here. And he needed to get away. He could turn around and race toward his car. But what if she followed? This was ridiculous. He was allowing himself to be rattled by a middle-aged woman who meant absolutely nothing to him. A woman he would steer clear of in the future.

It would be a good idea to get away for a while. Check out conferences and take an extended holiday. Escape from those unrelenting March winds and below-normal temperatures and bask in some sunlight. Georgia or Florida and maybe a Caribbean island. He’d have to borrow on his Visa, but it would be worth it. One month. That’s all he would need, and this animosity would blow over.

He slowed his pace and she matched his speed. He circled and turned around. She followed. Anger rose in his throat. “What the hell do you want?”

No words. Only a fixed gaze and a flash of silver at her side. The faint smell of onions and garlic assaulted his senses. He wrinkled his nose in disgust, all the while watching her every movement. His eyes traveled around the deserted field. Not a soul. And that was the appeal of running close to the midnight hour.

This is not how he had planned his demise, not by a long shot. Despite the age gap between them, he had hoped to survive his wife and take on a full-time paramour, maybe even two. If only he had known. If only he could go back six hours.

Fascinated, he stood still, hypnotized as she approached and raised the knife.

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Stumbling Onto Success

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“If you stumble, make it part of the dance.”(Author Unknown)

When I came across this quotation on my Pinterest travels, I immediately pinned it and within minutes, others were repining and liking it. I also shared this message with my friends, many of whom tend to fixate on each snafu in their lives, often ignoring the bigger picture.

I recall one friend who spent almost an hour listing everything that had gone wrong at a recent event she had chaired. When I read the glowing write-up in the paper, I couldn’t believe it was the same event. No mention was made of the last-minute menu changes or frantic scramble to replace the emcee who had come down with the flu. Without realizing it, my friend just kept stumbling on and everything turned out for the best.

Much like what happened with many well-known inventions that were accidents stumbled upon by sloppy, distracted, and temperamental professionals.

Fried to a Crisp

As head chef at Carey Moon Lake House in Saratoga Springs (1853), George Crum catered to a wealthy clientele. One day, a customer complained about his potatoes and sent them back to the kitchen several times, suggesting they be cut thinner and fried longer. Crum lost his temper and decided to get back at the customer. He cut the potatoes extra thin, fried them until they were crisps, and salted them. To everyone’s surprise, the customer asked for a second helping. The news spread quickly about these Saratoga chips which later become known as potato chips.

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All Covered in Goo

In 1879, chemist Constantin Fahlberg was experimenting with new uses for coal tar. He became so engrossed in his research that he forgot about his supper. Hungry and tired, he rushed out of the lab, forgetting to wash his hands. While eating, he noticed that his bread tasted unusually sweet. When he wiped his mustache with a napkin, he found the napkin tasted sweet as well. Curious, he stuck his thumb in his mouth and tasted more of the sweetness. He returned to the laboratory where he tasted every beaker and dish until he found the one that contained saccharin.

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Unwashed Dishes

In his haste to leave for a long overdue vacation, Alexander Fleming did not bother washing any of the dirty petri dishes stacked up at his workstation. When he returned from his holiday, he discovered that most had been contaminated. While dumping the dishes in a large vat of Lysol, one dish caught his eye. The dish was practically all covered in colonies of bacteria, except for one area where a blob of mold was growing. After close examination, he saw that the mold had blocked the bacteria from growing. He concluded that this mold—later called penicillin—could be used to kill a wide range of bacteria.

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Movie Review: The Zookeeper’s Wife

Based on the bestselling book by Diane Ackerman, this movie chronicles the efforts of Antonina Zabinski, brilliantly played by Jessica Chastain, and her husband Dr. Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh) to save 300 Jews during WWII. They ran a covert operation in which Jews were smuggled out of the Warsaw ghetto and into their basement hideout, where they were hidden in cages and tunnels. Later, they were transported to safety.

While Dr. Zabinski fits the profile of a classic resistance fighter, Antonina demonstrates a different kind of heroism. Each day, she had to ensure the German soldiers surrounding the zoo didn’t suspect their operation. She was also forced to cultivate an uneasy relationship with Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), the chief zoologist for the Nazi regime.

Antonina took her rescuer role several steps further, helping her guests survive emotionally, with their dignity intact. Each evening, after the soldiers left the zoo, she would sneak them into the house for piano concerts, dinner, and conversation.

Jessica Chastain delivers an Oscar-worthy performance, capturing the essence of Antonina—from her Polish accent to her intuitiveness. Some of my favorite scenes involve Antonina interacting with the animals: nursing lion cubs and bicycling alongside a young camel.

Director Niki Caro and cinematographer Andrij Parekh have succeeded in recreating the authenticity of the period, meticulously attending to all details from the bombings to the ghetto conditions to the effects of war on the zoo animals.

A must-see film!


Another Sneak Peek…

Last Friday, I shared the first part of the prologue of Too Many Women in the Room. You can read it here.

Here’s Part 2 of the Prologue:

He forced himself to slow down and hoped she would catch up, maybe even overtake him. Before making a move, he wanted to get a lay of the land. No point putting on the moves if she didn’t measure up. Though lately, he’d been less discerning.

Twenty years ago—heck even ten years ago—women in their twenties and thirties returned his winks and smiles, often boldly and with no qualms about what followed. But turning fifty-five had brought those encounters to a virtual standstill, and he had tired of the chase. Was this a harbinger of what old age would look like?

Within seconds, a flash of black appeared at his side. He counted to ten and then gave her a sideways glance. A frown replaced the smile.

Definitely in shape, but she had always taken care of herself, not allowing an extra morsel of food to cross her lips and sticking to a daily exercise regimen. Her face…well, her face showed the passages of time. And tonight, without a trace of makeup, she appeared older than her years. Forty-five. No, fifty. More than fifty. He struggled with the math and gave up.

Head-to-toe black did nothing for her. Once upon a time he would have volunteered that information, but tonight he hesitated. He couldn’t be sure how she would react, especially after the debacle at dinner. He tried to recall what she had said, but nothing came to mind. Perhaps she had said nothing at all. It would be like her to hide behind her passive-aggressiveness.

He forced a smile. “I didn’t expect to see you.”

No response, just a constant gaze and an expressionless face that was starting to worry him. He tried to look away but couldn’t escape those odd-colored eyes. A muddy green with hints of amber. Had she worn contacts in her younger days?

Buy Links

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | Kobo | Indigo | The Wild Rose Press