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Unbroken – Movie Review


In 2o1o Laura Hillenbrand brought us the story of Louie Zamperini and his incredible tale of survival and courage. Spending 15 weeks as number one on the New York Times bestsellers list and over four years on the list for hardcover nonfiction, Unbroken has captivated people in a way rarely seen. Now Angelina Jolie has brought the beloved book to film and the question for everyone who has read the book seems to be, “Can this possibly live up?”. The answer; in some ways yes and in others no. The movie does a good job of setting the stage, telling the story non-linearly and working in the backstory of Zamperini’s life as his trials during WWII play out. It’s an effective way of breaking up the time spent lost at sea, giving us a fuller look at who this man is and how he was able to make it through the torture and dehumanization of a prisoner-of-war camp.

Lost and Drifting

One of the strengths of the film is the way it mirrors Zamperini’s time drifting aimlessly in a raft longing for rescue and his early childhood full of petty theft and purposelessness. It’s a perfect picture of the innate depravity of man. Louie’s father even asks him after a whipping why he does these things and Louie has to reply, “I don’t know”. He shows no belief in himself or sense of direction until his older brother Pete challenges him to try out for the track team, helping train him and reminding him that he is loved and believed in.

We all need this in our lives. Left to our own devices we often drift listlessly along the waves of life. We long to have a purpose and know we are loved and believed in, in spite of the sin that enslaves us and leads us, much like Louie, to do things for reasons we don’t even understand. We need someone to step in and remind us who we are and show us a better way. For Louie that was his brother Pete and later in his life it would be his wife Cynthia.


This is a good movie. The acting is superb and Jolie does a fine job in her big budget directorial debut. Sadly it could have been even stronger. Zamperini comes home and is far from unbroken, he’s been shattered. Unable to find a way past his anger and rage, he turns to alcohol and descends deeper into hopelessness. It is not until his wife encourages him to attend a Billy Graham Crusade that Louie finds the relief he is looking for. He finds salvation from the anger and pain in the forgiveness of Jesus. Through an understanding of how much he has been forgiven, Louie can offer that same forgiveness to his former captors. He is free. Unfortunately this momentous event is not portrayed in the movie. The main crux of the story is not his surviving the torture and war, it is the salvation he finds in brokenness. See Unbroken, it’s a good movie, but do yourself a favor and read the book beforehand. As the old saying goes, “The more you know…”, and here the more, is everything.

Last year saw the release of a movie much like Unbroken called The Railway Man. I encourage everyone to see it. It is the most powerful movie of grace and forgiveness I’ve seen in years.

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Owl Post 10-27-14

Owl Post

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Broken: The Power of Conversion in Louie Zamperini’s Life

unbrokenLouie Zamperini’s amazing life is the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It has remained on the New York Times bestseller list for almost four years (a remarkable feat!), and on Christmas Day the much-anticipated movie adaptation is slated for release. Although it is one of my favorite books, I have to agree with Collin Hansen: “The title is all wrong.” After the war, Louie returned home a broken man.

Why Kids Sext

stock-footage-girl-using-mobile-phone-smartphoneIt was late on a school night, so Jennifer’s kids were already asleep when she got a phone call from a friend of her 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine. “Jasmine is on a Web page and she’s naked.” Jennifer woke Jasmine, and throughout the night, the two of them kept getting texts from Jasmine’s friends with screenshots of the Instagram account. It looked like a porn site—shot after shot of naked girls—only these were real teens, not grown women in pigtails. Jennifer recognized some of them from Jasmine’s high school. And there, in the first row, was her daughter, “just standing there, with her arms down by her sides,” Jennifer told me. “There were all these girls with their butts cocked, making pouty lips, pushing their boobs up, doing porny shots, and you’re thinking, Where did they pick this up? And then there was Jasmine in a fuzzy picture looking awkward.” (The names of all the kids and parents in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.) You couldn’t easily identify her, because the picture was pretty dark, but the connection had been made anyway. “OMG no f‑ing way that’s Jasmine,” someone had commented under her picture. “Down lo ho,” someone else answered, meaning one who flies under the radar, because Jasmine was a straight‑A student who played sports and worked and volunteered and was generally a “goody-goody two shoes,” her mom said. She had long, silky hair and doe eyes and a sweet face that seemed destined for a Girl Scouts pamphlet, not an Instagram account where girls were called out as hos or thots (thot stands for “that ho over there”).

The Power of Grace

lilaMarilynne Robinson tracks the movements of grace as if it were a wild animal, appearing for fleeting intervals and then disappearing past the range of vision, emerging again where we least expect to find it. Her novels are interested in what makes grace necessary at all—shame and its afterlife, loss and its residue, the limits and betrayals of intimacy.

In Lila, her brilliant and deeply affecting new novel, even her description of sunlight in a St. Louis bordello holds a kind of heartbreak: “When a house is shut up like that in the middle of a summer day the light that comes in through any crack is as sharp as a blade.” The notion that light might hurt—that illumination doesn’t always arrive as salvation, or that salvation might ache before it heals—echoes the novel’s articulation of a more personal kind of pain. “That was loneliness. When you’re scalded, touch hurts, it makes no difference if it’s kindly meant.”

The Flash: A Welcome Anti-Vigilante

_1394660692Selling a live-action superhero for teens is a tough gig these days for DC Comics. Their current offerings include a plethora of heroes, but few role models. Instead of the wholesome Clark Kent of Smallville or Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, DC’s Superman du jour is Zach Snyder’s glum Man of Steel. In place of the tongue-in-cheek George Clooney, DC’s Batman is the morally troubled, forbidding rich-boy type played by Christian Bale. For adolescents who have outgrown Teen Titans, Marvel still dominates the market.

Doctor Who and faith: bigger on the inside

clara-capaldi-danny-series-8-2With series 8 referencing ‘heaven’, Nathan traces Doctor Who’s varied relationships with atheism and faith…

I was a massive Simpsons fan as a child. And when I say massive, I really do mean – huge. It’s still one of the more memorable moments prior to my wedding day: emptying out my childhood bedroom with my (now) wife, only for her to discover notebooks filled with minute observations about the show. Obscure number plates, birthdays of secondary characters, dates of key events and much more besides. Having already paid for the reception venue she couldn’t exactly retract her commitment to marry me, although my mind contemplated that possibility when she hyperventilated laughing at “little Nathan,” circa 1999.