Star Trek Beyond – Review

international-posterIn 2009 J.J. Abrams introduced the world to what is now known as the “Kelvin Timeline” in Star Trek giving us a whole new way to look at and experience the iconic characters from The Original Series. In this third movie Justin Lin has taken over the dictatorial reins and given us a film worth of Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary.

Purpose and Identity 

Star Trek Beyond finds the Enterprise 3 years into it’s 5 year mission exploring deep space and Kirk is beginning to have questions. “Why are we out here?” What is my purpose?” “Do I really want to be doing this?” Each one of these has been plaguing him as they chart unknown. The vastness of space as left Kirk feeling directionless and without purpose. Kirk even says in the movie, “It’s hard to feel grounded when even the gravity is artificial”. He has gotten so lost in the routine of life, that perspective has become skewed. It brings to mind the struggles of Kirk from The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan, yet this time, Kirk is thinking of becoming an Admiral. It’s something we have only seen in books, the thought process that would lead Starfleet’s best captain to take a desk job.

Krall, the villain of the film is a mirror for Kirk in the movie. He’s a man who was so beholden to one thing in life that when life required him to grow, learn and move forward he found it impossible. As Kirk begins to learn more about his adversary he begins to find his own sense of purpose again, he’s out in space to help protect as many lives as he can, because all lives matter. Kirk is in space to learn, grow and help humanity do the same.

Both Kirk and Spock in the film are also facing the question of identity. Kirk has spent his time in Starfleet trying to be his father and live up to that legacy. McCoy tells him, “You spent all this time trying to be your father, now you’re wondering just what it means to be you.” Whereas Spock is struggling with his identity as a Vulcan and therefore his responsibility to them as they rebuild, which is heightened in light of Ambassador Spock’s death. Each one of these men must found out what it means to be themselves, to escape the shadow of father’s and mentors and chart their own course. What is beautiful about the movie is that they both find their identity and purpose in helping the other become the best versions of themselves and in protecting others.

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How We Grow

The idea of being able to grow as a person and society is a huge theme in the film. Krall has found himself unable to move from the past. He sees struggle, war and strife as the only true ways for a race to test themselves. Kirk reminds him that if all we do is continually wage war on the battles of yesterday, then we will be stuck in the past. It brings to mind John F. Kennedy’s words that inspired a whole generation,

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Adversity though war and infighting is not the only way to grow, choosing to do the impossible, with only hope as your guide is a powerful force for change. Humanity grows best when it learns from the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them again. Unity in mission and purpose, serving something greater than yourself is the best way to do that.

It’s the strength of the Federation to have unity, bringing together many different people for a common purpose and goal. In the film, this is also reflected on a smaller scale in the crew of the Enterprise. It is their commitment to each other, their working together in concert, each using their gifts to the best of their ability that help them solve the problems they face. It is a nice mirror for what Paul says in 1 Corinthians about the body of Christ, each working together through their God given gifts for the betterment of the other and in service to something much greater than the individual.

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The Movie

There are a couple things I don’t like about the film. One, I am not crazy about the action editing which often leaves the viewer wondering what just happened. It is so fast and cut so quick that it is sometimes hard to see or understand what transpired. I also have to say there were no surprises about the story, I leaned over to my wife a few times and called all the “reveals” or plot points well in advance.

What the movie does do well are the characters. The way in which we see them interact and grow is spot on and the introduction to Jaylah is a joy. Here’s to hoping that this is not the last time we see her in Star Trek. On top of all of this, Michael Giacchino has crafted a beautiful score that harkens back to The Motion Picture in some places as well as the best from every Trek movie since.

Star Trek Beyond is a fantastic way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and with the announcement of a 4th film coming in the “Kelvin Timeline”, the future is bright. The film is rated 4 out of 5 detached saucer sections.

Life Matters

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Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31 ESV)

What we are seeing is about the systematic disrespect of life. The moment you can dehumanize a baby in the womb or a creed or race or a profession you loose the respect for life. Respect for life can only come from the belief that all lives are crafted and created by God, made in his image and therefore have supreme value. Without this as the foundation, life is cheap, meaningless and utterly devoid of meaning. All lives matter to God and therefore all lives matter to me.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16 ESV)

Let us come together, anger, hate, fear only lead to more of the same, so let us live by the words of Christ, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 ESV).

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I highly encourage the reading of Tim Keller’s book, Generous Justice. The best book I have ever read on social justice.

X-Men: Apocalypse – Review

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It’s already been a summer of superheroes with Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War, many people may have forgotten that there was a new X-Men movie as well. Following up Bryan Singer’s Days of Future Past, the team finds itself in the middle of the 80s and an ancient power has awoken which could mean the end of the world as we know it. X-Men: Apocalypse is just as much about it’s characters as it is about spectacle. Singer knows we come to see them and watch them grow and the film does not disappoint.

Magneto’s Struggle

Eric’s story line is one of the most poignant. After the events of Days of Future Past, he has retired to Poland, works in a steel mill, married a woman (he told her who he was the first night they met) and they have a child. He’s happy in the small life he created until an accident at the mill forces him to use his powers to save a fellow worker. Word gets out who he is and before he and his family can escape, the local police capture his daughter, who is killed in a showdown. Enraged, Eric lashes out at the men, killing them all, leaving him screaming to the heavens, “Is this all I am?”. He cannot seem to escape the darkness within. It’s a clear reminder that there is something inside all of us that we cannot control, that is dark and evil and by ourselves we are powerless to control it. In the movie, it’s Charles, Raven and Quicksilver that help bring Eric back to the light, it’s part of the answer, to realize we cannot do it alone, dimly reflecting the truth of,

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV)

Better Together

Apocalypse, also known as En Sabah Nur, believes himself to be a god among men. He believes that his power instills in him the right to rule. The gifts that he was born with have been used to benefit himself alone. On the opposite side you have the X-Men who learn to harness their power and use it for others and the betterment of the world around them. It’s a beautiful picture of what the Apostle Paul talks about in Corinthians when he discusses spiritual gifts,

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV)

The X-Men series has always been about coming together and Apocalypse is no different. in the fight against En Sabah Nur neither Magneto or Charles is strong enough to destroy him, it takes, Scott Summers, Jean Grey working in concert with everyone else to save the world. Thinking about the film brought the next part of the Corinthian passage to mind,

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:14-20 ESV)

Each member of the team has a gift, that when combined with the others makes them even stronger. The gifts are meant to be used for the welfare of all of humanity and cannot hoard for ourselves, because we need each other. Each person brings strengths and weaknesses to the table and united we form a more perfect union. apocalypse-180759

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this movie. I love the new cast they have playing the younger versions of the people we know from the previous films and Quicksilver is still one of the best things in superhero films. The rest of the character work has me excited for what comes next in the series as hopefully we move to the 90s. Side note, this is how you make a joke about a Star Wars film. This film is rated 3.75 out of 5.

Captain America: Civil War – Review

Captain-America-Civil-War-FAN-MADE-Poster-captain-america-38467259-1382-2048.pngListen to The 602 Club Episode here!

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After the events of The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron and the beginning of Civil War itself, the Avengers team find themselves under fire for their unchecked use of power and civilian casualties. As the team divides amongst itself on the best way to solve this problem, a malevolent force works to tear them apart from the inside out. Civil War is a great superhero movie that asks big questions and still has the heart of the first two Captain America movies. It is a worthy successor to the series.

The Truth is Not Relative

The most powerful scene in the movie comes at Peggy Carter’s funeral. Her niece Sharon Carter gives the eulogy and recounts a conversation she had with her aunt. Peggy told Sharon, “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say ‘No, YOU move’.” Rarely has a comic book movie been more resonant to the times in which we live. The world is upside down and it’s screaming at us that wrong is right every single day. Peggy Carter’s message is a clarion call to us, we must plant ourselves in the truth, like a tree and not be shaken. It’s a clear picture of Psalm 1,

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1 ESV)

Steve Rogers is a wonderful model for this. His morality and virtue are not shaped my popular opinion or politics, but by something much more foundational and unchanging, knowing that there is right and wrong and that they are not something to be compromised.

Freedom to Choose 

Captain-America-Civil-War-645x370There is also another side to the coin. Captain America sees the inherent danger of taking choice away from the Avengers and making them pawns of a political body. He is fearful that they will be asked to stay out of situations they should be in and forced to act in ways they ought not because of prevailing political sentiment. There is a good correlation with the Jedi in the prequels, that allowed themselves to become agents of a government and not what is right. In the end the Jedi became compromised, realizing too late that they’ve been in service to the wrong master all along.

The choice to do what is right cannot be left to a committee and popular opinion, Steve knows this and willingly lives out that principle. In fact, this is the very reason Steve is fighting for Bucky. Bucky is someone who has had choice forcibly removed, enslaved to the will of an evil organization and been made to do terrible things. He is a microcosm of the question facing the Avengers team. Captain America shows his quality once again as he interposes himself between Iron Man and the Winter Soldier, protecting both: Tony from acting on revenge and Bucky from something that is not his fault.

Conclusion

Captain America: Civil War is a fantastic movie and honestly the Avengers movie we all hoped Age of Ultron would be. While I do have some minor quibbles, I feel Spider-man is shoehorned into the film and would have rather had his time devoted to other characters like Agent 13 or Black Panther, it does not detract too much from the enjoyment of the film. This is rated four shields out of five.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Review

thetrinityThis review contains spoilers.

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“Black and blue. Fight night. The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world. God versus man. Day versus night! Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!” – Lex Luthor

Comic fans have been having the argument for over 70 years about who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman. At the end of Man of Steel the production team was looking for the next challenge that Superman would face and in that conversation the idea was thrown out that it should be Batman. Thus was born the genesis of Batman v Superman, Zach Snyder’s newest film in the DC cinematic universe. Pitting a grizzled, bitter Batman against a Superman the world is not sure it wants, Batman v Superman is a serious comic book film that asks big questions while at the same time not loosing heart.

Fear What They Don’t Understand

Martha Kent tells her son that people fear what they do not understand and that theme plays itself out throughout the movie. Lex Luthor plays on the fears of the government, which is not sure what to make of this alien with god-like powers. He is also able to prey on the fear, anger and rage of Bruce Wayne who after 20 years as Batman has seen the loss of a Robin and many so-called “good men”. Fear drives Bruce to see Superman as something that cannot be contained, “That son of a bitch brought the war to us. He has the power to wipe out the entire human race and if we believe there is even a one percent chance that he is our enemy, we have to take it as an absolute certainty” he tells Alfred. He has good reasons, since he was there the day that Zod attacked Metropolis, helplessly watching as he lost friends and employees in one of his buildings.

Fear leads Batman to become even harder and more cruel as he searches for answers because he believes it is duty to save humanity from a threat that cannot be controlled. In light of someone with such power who is the Batman? Alfred, like Yoda before him warns Bruce about fear, “That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men… cruel.” Because of it, Batman is willing to be the complete vigilante, he will do whatever it takes to get the job done. This is where the “v” in the title comes in to play, will justice be served by the law or by someone like Batman. Superman stands clearly on the side of the law and working with it to bring justice, Batman on the other had is much more willing to dole out justice as he sees fit.

It was striking to see this as a reflection of America. We are being driven by fear, we don’t talk, we just yell at each other from different sides of the aisle and problems never get resolved. We are afraid of everything and it continually eats away at our humanity until there is nothing left. We face the same dilemma, will be be driven by our fear, allowing it to lead us down a dark path, or will we be lead by the better angels of our nature? At this moment the answer is utterly uncertain.

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There is a senate hearing about actions that were taking early in the movie by Superman and the senator played by Holly Hunter talks about the importance of talking to one another in a democracy and working things out together. What is provocative is to see how the “fight” between Batman and Superman has come to a head because they have not talked to one another, they have just assumed things about the other. It is only when these two men do talk that they realize they are being used as pawns and are actually on the same side. The most powerful moment in the movie comes when Batman has Superman down and is ready to strike and Superman asks him to save Martha who has been kidnapped by Lex. In that moment Bruce realizes that he and Clark, though from completely different worlds are exactly the same, men who would do anything to save their mothers and it creates a bridge between them.

It’s a timely reminder that it is through dialogue and communication that most problems get solved. The hard work of setting aside preconceptions and prejudices has to be done if we ever want to make a better world. There is a time to fight but more importantly, there is a time to truly listen, learn and make peace.

Media and the Truth

The movie has a very realistic take on the role of media in our lives. We live in a world of the 24 hour news cycle that has created the era of the sensationalistic sound-bite culture that feeds misinformation constantly. There is very little responsible journalism when getting the story first is more important than getting it right. Clark faces that in the film as he sees the way the Batman is trampling on civil liberties and Perry White yells at him, “Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman.” The world has stopped caring about what is moral and right in the news when like everything else it has become a form of entertainment. The movie wonderfully demonstrates this with the likes of Charlie Rose and Anderson Cooper showing up, playing the same roles they do in real life, questioning pundits who have no real knowledge, just half-baked theories built on conjecture. It’s a world where everyone is saying something but no one is listening. This talking heads do nothing but fan the flames of extremism on both sides because it’s good for the ratings and the truth gets trampled in the crossfire.

The film shows the difference of people who have experienced the kindness and help of Superman as apposed to those who have not. It’s shocking to see when he arrives at the capital the demonstrations where half of the people love him and the other half hate him, even though neither sides have probably ever met him or experienced him in person. It plays into the theme of fear perfectly and sadly it looks all too familiar, a world that takes sides with little to no true knowledge of the subject matter at hand.

Consequences 

One of the beauties of the DC cinematic universe so far is the consequences faced by the heroes and the situations that they are in. In Man of Steel an alien terraforming machine was unleashed on the world and two “gods” fought creating massive destruction. This carries in to Batman v Superman as Superman must figure out when is the right time to act, what is the right thing to do and deal with the untended consequences of his actions, even if the action was right. The movie does a good job of showing that Clark is trying to do what is right in all areas of his life, at the newspaper and as Superman, yet he lives in a world where what is right is often not seen as popular or even encouraged.

Perception of his actions have a huge impact on the movie since everything he does is captured, reported on and twisted in a million different ways in the media. It plays in beautifully with the ideas of the media and truth. Superman may have the noblest of intentions but since his actions are often seen or spun differently and it creates a firestorm that he often did not expect. Snyder brilliantly captures the heart of the cynical, jaded and self-important world we live in where it’s not the truth of what happened that matters but your own personal “truth” that is preeminent. We’ve lost the ability to believe in heroes because we’ve lost the belief in good and evil, to accept only our own spin on events. Additionally the blame game is in full effect, since no one these days is responsible for their own actions, it is always the fault of someone else and the one to blame is usually the person trying to do the right thing.

What is incredible about the movie is that it plays all of this out with Superman. His actions to save Lois in the desert from terrorists has led to him being blamed for deaths that he did not cause and the media spin does nothing to help. In the end the whole thing is being orchestrated by Lex to sow the seeds of distrust in Superman and he plays the world for fools by tapping into our fears, the media and the current lack of critical thought to unleash an even greater evil on the world. Sound familiar?

On top of this, Lex openly challenges the idea of an all good “god” with the classic problem of evil. If God is all good how can their be evil and if there is evil, how can God be all good? The death of religious belief has lead us to question the ability of anything altruistic or good in anyone, even our heroes. It’s hard to have heroes when we don’t believe in absolute good or evil, there are only shades of grey and someone like Superman can seem like a relic of a long forgotten age. It truly is the struggle of our time as  we wrestle with the desire for a true hero and ostracism of them in the same breath.  This is why all our “heroes” reflect us now, not the best part, the morally ambiguous part, because heroes make us uncomfortable with what we have given up. Heroes with the virtue of Superman, remind us of what we have lost in expulsion of absolute truth.

Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman

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The thing that I love most about the movie is the was the way it nails the Superman character. May people cried foul at Man of Steel for not having him saving enough people, but this movie takes all of that criticism and builds on it. It shows us a man willing to be a hero, even when he’s rejected. Superman tells Lois, “This is my world” and he is willing to give his life for it, even if the people of it shun, hate or despise him, he’s going to be the hero they need. He lovingly plays out John 15:13, giving his life not only for his friends but for the world, even those that hate him and by doing so fulfilling his father Jor-El’s words, “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.” And the people do, starting with Batman and Wonder Woman.

Batman was the best Batman I have seen on screen, from the costume, to the movement, to the way in which he seemed to have stepped right out of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. What made him so compelling was his need to be brought back into the light and that it was Clark that showed him the way. He was reminded of his humanity by an alien. It’s a powerful message of hope in the darkness and the need of someone to show the lost the way.

Wonder Woman was wonderful. DC was right to bring her into this film and introduce her to the world before she gets her own film in 2017. Gal Gadot was phenomenal and some of the biggest cheers in the theater were when she shows up in the costume to help lay waste to Doomsday. Honestly love everything about her.

Conclusion

This movie is a comic book on screen. It is fun too, do not let the reviews out there fool you, there were moments I was cheering and having a blast. I like that the plotting of Lex throughout the film brings all of the heroes together in the end, as well as sets up the need for the Justice League to form. I thought that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was a refreshing take on a well known character. He brought a manic malevolence to the performance that set him apart from other Luthors we have seen. I also enjoyed the final climax to the movie as the three heroes try to find a way to defeat Doomsday and not destroy another city. The movie is not perfect, but I like is immensely and cannot wait to see it again as well as Zach Snyder’s Director’s Cut on blu ray. This is 4 and a half stars out of 5 for me.

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New Podcast!

AN-ReimaginedJanuary19-1400x1400-FadeI have recently begun a new podcasting adventure with my good friend John Mills called Aggressive Negotiations. It is a Star Wars podcast and yet not your usual Star Wars show. We do not cover any news or current Star Wars evens, we cover the things you talk about with your friends. We are just two guys who enjoy contemplating the silly, the serious and everything in-between about the Star Wars saga. I hope you will join us for our 30ish minute shows as we talk about a fun new topic each week. You can find us on our website as well as iTunes. Check us out, let us know what you think and help spread the word!

Best Books of 2015

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This is a list of the best books that I read this year in no particular order. There are some links to full reviews or a podcast so be sure to check those out as well. Comment and let me know what you read so I can add to my list for 2016.


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The Sun and Other Stars

I feel in love with this book and it’s simple story of a small Italian town that is turned upside down when a famous European football star escapes to a villa just outside the city. Pasulka makes you feel as if you are in the seaside village of San Benedetto, as Italy comes alive around you. This is the perfect book for any time of the year when you wish to escape on an exotic vacation.

91PrwyEfcwLAstoria

Six years after the success of the Lewis & Clark expedition, John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson dreamed of a Northwest empire along the Pacific coast. This is the true story of the three year journey that would end without an empire but inadvertently blazing the Oregon Trail. It’s a harrowing story of the wild frontier, survival and shattered dreams. Fascinating from start to finish.

star-wars-dark-discipleDark Disciple 

I cannot add anything to my original review, “Christie Golden has written the finest book in the new canon with Dark Disciple. The book immediately feels like an arc of The Clone Wars. In many ways it is a stinging reminder of just how much life was left in this show and the power it had to tell amazing stories. My sincere thanks to Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo for continuing to find opportunities to get The Clone Wars content to fans any way they can. Dark Disciple is now my gold standard for what this new line of canon books can and should be. This book is rated a perfect 10.” Be sure to check out The 602 Club review and interview with author Christie Golden.

81Yengb18CLBecoming Worldly Saints 

Maybe the hardest thing to do as a follower of Christ is to live in the world but not of it. With so many books swirling around the Evangelical world, many with opposing views on how to live as Christ has called, Wittmer wisely and carefully shows that enjoying the life we’ve been given and radically following Jesus are not at odds. “Careful Christian thinking holds these two truths in paradox, never allowing one truth to drown out the other, never allowing the extreme position of one side to lead us to the other. To miss one side of this paradox or the other is to distort the beauty of Christianity.” Excerpt From: Michael E. Wittmer. “Becoming Worldly Saints.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/fBev1.l

Lost-Stars-CoverStar Wars: Lost Stars

This may have been the biggest surprise of the year. Lost Stars was released on Force Friday this year and aimed at the young adult market. In the shadow of the much touted Aftermath, Lost Stars flew under the radar with no expectations and with that eclipsed Aftermath in both quality and praise. Gray weaves an expansive story that moves from before A New Hope to after Return of the Jedi all from the point of view of the Empire’s finest recruits. Next to Dark Disciple, this is the finest example of how to add to the Star Wars canon. Be sure to check out The 602 Club review.

Epitaph hc cEpitaph

Mary Doria Russell has long been a favorite author of mine and this year’s Epitaph was another feather in her cap. A work of historical fiction about the man behind the legend, Wyatt Earp. Russell has dug deep to research this book, giving it an authenticity and reality that will blow you away. This may be the closest you will ever come to reading the true story of the O.K. Corral and the people behind the famous shootout.

book-bag-the-wright-brothersThe Wright Brothers

David McCullough is back as he chronicles the Wright brothers determination to see a man fly. The ingenuity these men had as self-made inventors is astonishing. The “can do” spirit has never been stronger as they take advantage of every benefit American freedom offers to create the first piloted aircraft and make sure their names would be long remembered.  Inspirational to the last.

20150326140533US_cover_of_Go_Set_a_WatchmanGo Set a Watchman

I cannot add anything to my original review, “Go Set a Watchman set the world afire when it was announced. After years of rumors that Harper Lee had written another book and questions about if it would be published, the book’s final discovery continues to be followed by controversy surrounding whether or not Lee had been taken advantage of by her publisher. Regardless, the book is out and with society in upheaval again, it just may be the perfect book at the perfect time. In the story, Jean Louise (Scout) is home visiting from New York and what follows are vignettes on a theme. Each vignette builds to a crescendo as Jean Louise breaks the shackles of childhood to become her own person…Go Set a Watchman is a visionary book about the past yet it is just as relevant today. It’s an important read and well worth your time. I encourage everyone to wrestle with the themes because you just might find yourself changed in the end.”

fellowshipThe Fellowship

The Inklings are the stuff of legend in the literary world and with giants like Lewis and Tolkien in their midst the other members are often overlooked. In The Fellowship, Philip and Carol Zaleski look at the lives of the four main members J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. They never shy away from the imperfections of each, giving a well rounded look at each man’s strengths and weaknesses and just what made this group so special. It’s a long read that is worth the investment. 

Honorable Mentions:

For the Star Wars Fan: Weapon of the Jedi, Smuggler’s Run, Moving Target, Before the Awakening, Shattered Empire, Lords of the Sith and The Star Wars Heresies.

The History Fan: Dead Wake.

The Mystery Fan: Career of Evil.

For the Star Trek Fan: Sight Unseen and Atonement.

The Young Adult Fan: The Sword of Summer.

The Non-Fiction Fan: Into Thin Air.