Pop. Culture & the Arts

Created: April 4th, 2007

Rhythm of Faith: God's Gifts During the Reformation

Can you hear it? It's still beating—the heart of Lutheranism still flowing through time, not just once during the Reformation service we anticipate every year, but from our new heart of faith. Can you hear it? It's there in God's Word, renewed in your baptism, restored by faith in the Lord's Supper, refreshed by the words of absolution. Can you hear it? The Law pounds into us our need for a Savior, and the Gospel frees us with a new rhythm of faith, flowing forth forgiveness of sins and love for the neighbor. It is the beautiful sound of God's love to us in Christ.

Jesu Juva: Theological Competence Makes Musical Genius

While it certainly is true that Johann Sebastian Bach stands as a giant in the musical world, it is also true that he stands on the shoulders of the theologians from the German Reformation church. For Bach, Christ's atonement on his behalf filled his work and his heart. So, from Jesu Juva to Soli Deo Gloria, Christ was proclaimed by Bach. May our hallowed halls of worship be filled with the proclamation of Christ that was dug out from the Reformation and painted most beautifully on the pages of the competent theologian and musical genius that is the work of Johann Sebastian Bach.

José y Maria

In 2014, the graphic novelist, Everette Patterson, of Portland Oregon decided to do a Christmas card in the vein of the graphic novel pioneer Will Eisner, "who so often depicted, with religious reverence, noble individuals enduring the many minor discomforts and petty indignities of urban America."

It's Coming: The Tale of Two Advents

It's coming! We have waited 32 years for it, but the events and characters in the fictional Star Wars galaxy will finally have their next chapter revealed. Fans of all ages can share the thrill and excitement of the story

Christ Rising

For the Christian, resurrection to life with the Triune God is no mere hobby. Our resurrection in Christ is part of God's essential Truth, given us to walk in daily by faith.

Dürer: "The Knight, Death and the Devil" and Faith Alone

In 1513, Albrecht Dürer produced "The Knight, Death and the Devil," in the wake of his mother's death. To this day, this copper engraving is recognized as a masterpiece of its genre, but is perhaps more cherished for its spiritual content that prefigured the Reformation teaching of faith alone by several years.

The Father's Heavenly Embrace

In this painting, The Prodigal Son (1924), Giorgio de Chirico revisits one of his favorite themes, a motif he first drew in 1917 as the "Great War" was coming to an end, and first painted in 1922. He would paint the motif several times again with near compulsiveness until his death in 1978. Only then would he be reunited with the father he lost as a child, even as the Father received him into the kingdom with His heavenly embrace.

Straight Outta Compton - Movie Review

The Prophets of the Old Testament held up the ugly reality of this world where frankly there won't ever be any real peace. They also pointed to the promises of God, to Jesus Christ who did not come to condemn the world, but to reconcile the enemies of God, you, me and Easy-E to his Father through the cross. It was the Jesus who brought what it was the prophets promised, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

It's just a pair of boots

It's just a pair of boot, leather and wood. Black leather with a little white stitching. They fit well and will offer many miles of taking the path less traveled.

The Good Shepherd Calls His Sheep from the Kalahari Cattle Herds

"A Good Shepherd" is typical of John's style of linocut. It looks a bit primitive, and yet his play on black and white would not only carry a subtly sophisticated commentary on life amidst turmoil during the period of apartheid in his homeland, but it would also communicate his "Hope and Optimism" for the future of Africa that he shared with Nelson Mandela.

Kicking Against the Goads of Christ

For when they persecute you for his names sake, they kick against the goads of Christ their Lord and Savior who carried the cross also for them, and calls them to repentance.

Let Christ Do the Job, Stanley Spencer "Christ Carrying the Cross"

Another Stanley Spencer painting "Christ Carrying the Cross" echoes El Greco's famous illustration by the same title, but with more narration as it shows Christ willfully, almost cheerfully carrying the cross through Spencer's hometown of Cookham in place of Jerusalem as the people absent mindedly follow Christ by going about their own business of carrying their crosses of vocation.

Stanley Spencer, The Meaning of Life in Christ

Rev. Bror Erickson tells us about his introduction to the works of English painter, Stanley Spencer. Though the events of Christ death and resurrection belong to the historical record of time, they are eternal realities of an ever present and loving God who gave His life for you.

Hide It Under a Bushel, No! I'm Going to Let It Shine!

Pastor Olson was just looking at different ways the church could expand its Sunday School program as he cleaned up the closet and noticed this a stack of posters in the corner, underneath them was an old deteriorated painting of Jesus, a light of compassion and a face of mercy upon life's downtrodden in the darkness, and a curious signature, "Ary Scheffer."

No Thanks, I Read the Book

With the recent releases of "The Son of God" and "Noah", Pr. Mark Buetow gives some insight on whether you should see these movies or not see them.

The Occult: Hollywood or Holy War?

There's something about the supernatural that seems so magnetically intriguing. Hollywood is clearly enamored with the subject. There are a host of TV series that supposedly profile people's encounters with ghosts, demons, or other supernatural beings and plenty of movies that glorify these things in some way. Rev. Tiews shines the light of the Scriptures on this often distorted reality. by Rev. Christian Tiews.

Art Set Apart

by Kelly Klages
A fine artist herself, Kelly masterfully creates a beautiful picture of the role of art in the Lutheran church. Discover its distinct purpose and history as well as how art in the church is a unique blending of tradition and Christian freedom. It's all about Jesus!

Higher Movies: The Clean Slate in The Dark Knight Rises

One of the many threads running through the plot of this summer’s blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises, is a computer program codenamed “Clean Slate.” This program is supposedly able to take just a little information about an individual and completely erase any record of him/her on any computer throughout the world. In essence, giving him or her a “clean slate” so that one could escape or start over. No criminal records. No credit reports. No driving tickets. However, it also means no bank records. No insurance. Nothing

Losing Muchness and Believing Impossible Things

by the Rev. Rich Heinz 

Warning: Spoilers follow. 

“You were much more... muchier. You've lost your muchness,” laments the Mad Hatter to Alice in the newest version of Lewis Carrol’s “Alice in Wonderland.”   The film briefly introduces Alice as a child, then skips over ten years to what is to be her engagement party.  Alice once again sees the White Rabbit from her “dreams” and again falls down the hole, drinks the bottle labeled “Drink me” to shrink, and eats the cake to grow large, encounters the “Red Queen” (Queen of Hearts), Knave of Hearts, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and all the others from her childhood adventure.

Higher Movies: Widening Your Gaze on Sherlock Holmes

by the Rev. Rich Heinz 

"Mr. Holmes, you must widen your gaze. I'm concerned you underestimate the gravity of coming events. For you and I are bound on a journey that will twist the very fabric of nature," says Lord Blackwood, a nobleman imprisoned, thanks to Sherlock Holmes.  Lord Blackwood has engaged in murders – human sacrifices – to secure his power over others, enshrouded by the occult.  Blackwood has Londoners convinced that he is risen from the dead and can perform black magic, and in a Mason-like secret society, he attempts to gain control of the British Empire.  He repeatedly chides Holmes and others for their “unbelief.” 

Glee: Good, Gracious, or Ghastly?

by The Rev. Rich Heinz  

The theme is a common one from literature and television: take a rag-tag bunch of misfits, bring them together, and when working together, the greatest of odds can be overcome.  This is at the heart of Glee, running its first season on Fox, Wednesdays at 9 PM EST. 

Revenge of the Fallen

Two years ago Transformers came out and swept the box offices raking in millions of dollars and reintroducing a Hasbro toy from the generation before to today's kids.  The movie was nothing short of fantastic, taking the characters we'd come to love from the toy aisle and memorable cartoon and spicing them up with flashy CGI graphics. 

Up: Searching for Adventure

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

This weekend, my family saw Up, the latest Disney/Pixar film. Once again, the great minds (and computers) at Pixar have proven that they cannot produce a bad or even mediochre film...every Disney/Pixar is a great film!

True Beauty is Only Skin Deep – Or Is It?

by the Rev. Rich Heinz 

True Beauty“Are you hot?” asks a certain Facebook application.  Magazine covers, TV commercials, and movie producers constantly flash images before our eyes of people who are beautiful by their standards.  The unspoken message is that these should be our standards as well.

Throw Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks into the mix as producers, and True Beauty emerges.  True Beauty is a television show (Monday nights on ABC) full of “beautiful people” – but with a twist!  There is an underlying message: true beauty is not only about physical looks and bodily perfection.  True beauty relies on inner beauty: compassion, honesty, trust, and more.

Happy Holidays: So Close, and Yet So Far

by The Rev. Rich Heinz  

Epcot ChoirThroughout the month of December, a beautiful Candlelight Processional  is held in the evening at EPCOT.  A large choir from various churches and schools sing various Christmas hymns.  Yes!  Not secular carols.  No “Winter Wonderland” or “Jingle Bells.”  The songs are about Jesus’ birth.

“The Day the Earth Stood Still” Review

 

by the Rev. Mark Buetow

movie posterWarning: This review contains movie plot spoilers!

It's pretty irritating to go to a movie that you think is going to be a good sci-fi flick with lots of action, only to be hounded with a message of morality, especially one about something as ridiculous as global warming and the environment. I'll admit, I had a hint of that before I saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still (TDTESS)” but I went anyway because we live in a small town and movies are pretty inexpensive here. 

Higher Movies Rewind: Sisterhood or Sonship?

by Johannah Miesner

When I first read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, I was intrigued by the dedication of four girls to each other – and a pair of pants. I have to admit that I am by nature a person who always prefers the book to the movie.

Johannah Miesner invites you to see what a lover of literature thought of this movie…while making comparisons between Jesus and a pair of pants!

 

 

Jesus, the Biggest Loser

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

A few seasons ago, before watching, I thought it was a mean, voyeuristic concept of a show. Put a bunch of overweight people on a ranch, make them work hard, and vote them off if they did not work hard enough.

 

 

Spore: Playing God, Promoting Evolution, or Enjoying Creating?

by Nathan Fischer

Have you ever wanted to play God? Deep down inside, I think we all do, which is probably why so many people enjoy the games created by game designer Will Wright. He has dedicated his career to projects like SimCity and The Sims – projects that let the gamer play god in their own little world. Now with the game Spore, Will Wright’s latest release, the “god game” is taken to a whole new level.

Read on as Nathan Fischer reviews this game, and see if you agree. Is this simply a matter of fun and fiction? Or is a darker agenda out there to lure you in? Enjoy the article and comment!

 

Talent on Loan from God

by Kimberly Grams

AGT is not one of my primary shows.  I watched the first season, but I don’t sit through the weeks and weeks (and weeks and weeks and weeks – get the picture?) of preliminary rounds.  There’s too much bad and too much weird.  I like REAL talent, and the stories behind the people – where they are from and where they are going.

Too Late to Apologize?

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

This summer has provided opportunities to be flipping radio stations and actually hear “Apologize” on more than one frequency! Although the song is no longer in the Top 40, apparently it has struck a chord with teens who hurt from broken relationships. So what is going on here, that so many hear these words and say (whether consciously or not), “Amen!”?

 

A Real Savior for Our Virtual Sins

by The Rev George F. Borghardt III

In the Name of Jesus. Amen. I love games. I began playing the first Massive Multiplayer Roleplay game (MMROPG) Ultima Online, while in seminary. The game provided a virtual world, economy, monsters, spells, and orcs! After that I tried my hand at Everquest and “Evercrack 2”. What can I say? I just love games with orcs in them.

The Big Screen vs. Small Screens: Cinemas and Cell Phones

by Johannah Miesner

During a recent trip to the movie theater, I settled into my comfortable seat, ready for the film to begin. I breathed a sigh of contentment as the lights dimmed, the previews started, the smell of popcorn wafted to my nostrils…and the texting began. “Wait!” I thought to myself. “Why do small bluish cell phones seem to rival the big screen for the main source of light in this theater? Am I the only one in this theater that, after paying eight dollars for my ticket, actually wants to watch the movie!?!”

 

Higher Movies: The Rescue of Anakin - The Clone Wars

by Rachael Soyk Erdman

When I went to see Clone Wars, I was expecting a corny, slapstick mockery of Star Wars ala Kim Possible, The Fairly Oddparents, or any of the other animated kid’s shows popular today. What I discovered was a slightly corny, but entirely enthralling return to the glory days of the Star Wars franchise.

 

The Gospel and “So You Think You Can Dance”

by Kim Grams

Best. Season. Ever. There are a number of things that made Season 4 of Fox Network’s “So You Think You Can Dance” the best season ever.

Kim Grams takes a closer look at some thoughts that sum up the most recent season of this dance competition. Even if you don’t “think you can dance,” take a few moments to join Kim in this topic and see what our Lord may be teaching us.

 

Re-runs

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

So what is the problem with reruns?  You already know what will happen.  They are predictable.  The outcome will not change.  Hannah Montana’s zany antics with Lily will turn out fine and her identity will remain hidden.  Drake and Josh will get over their anger and frustration, and everything will turn out fine in their home.  The Brady Bunch will get through their problem and Mom and Dad will restore peace within the 30-minute episode.  And every time you view a given episode, it will conclude the same way.  It does not change.

Higher Movies: The Dark Knight

by Stan Lemon

The Dark Knight is perhaps the best movie yet to grace the big screen this summer. Following in the Batman franchise and the excellent work done in Batman Begins we find our everyday superhero once again struggling with purpose. Batman is still portrayed as a vigilante to much of Gotham, but there is hope in the eyes of Harvey Dent, a recently elected District Attorney for the City of Gotham.

 

Higher Movies: Hancock

by Stan Lemon

I’m a huge Will Smith fan. I have been most of my life. I went to see Hancock because there isn’t a Will Smith movie I haven’t seen. I’ve never been disappointed. I learned how to be cool from Men in Black and I even learned how to date from Hitch. I figured after movies like Pursuit of Happiness and I am Legend Will couldn’t make bad movies. I spoke to soon…

 

Amen Staff Karaoke!

What do you get when you mix three worship services a day, some amazing catechesis, tons of fun, and maybe one too many cans of Diet Coke? Well, why don't we just show you?

An Incredible Cinema Resurrection

by Stan “the Incredible” Lemon

Back on the screen after five years, the Hulk returns. This time, he is incredible with an all-star lineup, a plot and some fairly decent acting. Five years ago Marvel was really beginning to develop its movie franchise, after the 2000 X-Men success and 2002 Spiderman success they really seemed to be on a roll. In 2003 Marvel released three notable comic movies, X-Men II (arguably the best in the trilogoy), Daredevil (a painful flop in every sense of the word) and Hulk staring Eric Bana. Do you remember Hulk? No? Well thank God for that.

Long-Distance Relationships, the Plain White T’s, and Dates at Wal-Mart

by Kimberly Grams

The topic of long-distance relationships came up in February when it was suggested that I write an article on the Plain White T’s song “Hey There, Delilah.” Living in a rural area with lousy radio stations, I’m behind on the music curve. Being unfamiliar with them, I opted not to write a Valentine-y article, but to save it for later – so I’ve had a lot of time to think on it.

Higher Movies: Ironman

by Stan Lemon

Perhaps the best movie to grace the screen this summer (so far) is Marvel’s latest comic big-screen movie, the one about the man of steel. No, I’m not talking about Superman (that’s the other comic company, DC), I’m talking about Ironman. In this almost Pauline epic, Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) is the CEO of the world’s largest weapon’s company. This doomsday mastermind is charming, good looking, extremely wealthy and he’s got all the right moves. After a trip to the middle East and a Damascus-like experience this man with all the right moves and a godless core finds himself as a superhero saving the world from what was once defined who he was. 

Higher Movies: Indiana Jones and the Movie of Doom

by Stan Lemon

Twenty years in the making, with who knows how many scripts rejected and with more publicity and hype than anything else this summer, the fourth installment of Indiana Jones has to be a must see movie, right? Try again…

Join Stan Lemon as he reminds us that some films, no matter who works on them, are not worth a 20 year wait. So dear Lucasfilm fans, gird up the loins of your film-critic minds, sit back, everyone, and see how sour this Lemon-of-a-review can get!

Diary of an American Idol Junkie – Volume 4

by Kim Grams

The problem with being a junkie is that you want to quit, but you can’t. American Idol in a lot of ways has gotten predictable, clichéd, and boring. It’s still the number one show, but a lot of people don’t watch anymore – especially in the younger demographic. I always think I’ll quit watching, and then end up watching anyway.

Higher Movies: Prince Caspian

by Jonathan Kohlmeier

The current Chronicles of Narnia movie series began with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005. As of May 16, 2008, Prince Caspian, the second movie, is gracing a big screen near you! As the first words in the trailer state, the time has come to journey back to Narnia. Even with prices at the theaters being extremely high, this is a must see movie of the summer.

 

Joyous Generousity? A Commentary on Oprah’s “Big Give”

by Kimberly Grams

The Big Give is now given. You have had time to ponder the show, if you watched it. And now, the Big Questions: Was it “big?” Was it “giving?” Is giving always good – or does it depend on motive? What about those so-called “good works” that are not done out of faith in the true God 

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

by Stan Lemon

So what is this movie all about and why won’t you ever see it? First of all, it’s a documentary, but not like the kind you’re used to watching on reel slides in Chem class. It’s not even like that other recently popularized documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. This documentary deals with the suppression of freedom in the science world. Sounds boring? Don’t give up on me yet…

Diary of an American Idol Junkie – Volume 3

by Kimberly Grams

Haven’t caught Season 7? It’s not too late. Let me catch you up. Read on!

3/18/08, 6 p.m.

Can’t. Stop. Watching. Must. Vote. American-Idol-is-on-from-7-to-9-and-Dancing-With-theStars-is-on-from-8:30-to-9:30-and-I-don’t-know-how-I’ll-be-able-to-watch-it-all-and-vote-tonight!!!

OK, last two weeks (end of Top 24 rounds AND 1st week on the big stage with Top 12) . . .

Higher Movies: A Person’s a Person; Only in Christ!

By Stan Lemon

Did you grow up on Dr. Seuss? If you were like me, you had a stack of Dr. Seuss books somewhere in your bedroom. Before I could read my mother read them to me, and after I could read I read them to myself. I have fond memories of the original Grinch that Stole Christmas – you know, the cartoon one (that may pre-date some of you). I was excited to see a classic Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who come to the big screen – especially with an all-star cast including Jim Carey (there’s something about him that just works for Dr. Seuss) and Steve Carrell (a personal favorite).

Eli Stone – Because He’s Getting “Faith”

by Kimberly Grams

I’m merrily skipping the commercials on my DVR back in January, and I see an ad for a show where a guy has a vision of George Michael performing the ‘80’s hit “Faith” ON HIS LIVING ROOM COFFEE TABLE. My most formative pop culture years were during High School. I graduated from High School in 1987, so if George Michael’s dancing on the coffee table, I’m SO there.

Diary of An American Idol Junkie: Volume 2

by Kimberly Grams

I’ve watched enough Idol, that I get kinda bored. I know what the judges will say, before they say it (my kids think this is a cool trick). Slow songs make my eyes glaze over. On Survivor, you can’t sit out the same person in back-to-back challenges; AI should have a rule: you can’t do two slow songs in a row. Hey, that’d be a GREAT theme week – only upbeat songs!

Crazy Days and Crazy Hair

by Kimberly Grams

A few months ago when I heard about Cashmere Mafia (Wednesdays on ABC) and Lipstick Jungle (Thursdays on NBC), I thought “Cool! That’s an article!” Both are basically the same show about power women in New York City, and people on both projects had ties to Sex and the City. The article was going to be Cashmere Mafia vs. Lipstick Jungle. Better title? Best shoes, best cast, best plot, best acting. You know, compare them in several categories and see which one comes out on top.

 

Chaplains of Another Gospel

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

In her Pop Culture articles for Higher Things, Kim Grams has spoken of promises she made to herself. Several years ago I too made a promise. “If Carter ever leaves E.R., I am done. That’s it!” They have killed off or written off every original character, it seemed, and that would be the last straw.

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To! Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

by Kim Grams

Twenty tissues. That’s my record of tissues used while watching Extreme Home Makeover. It was the episode about the cop who got shot and is now in a wheelchair. The boy with the “glass” bones really got to me to. They all get to me, which is weird because I almost never cry.

Can You Tell Me How to Get (How to Get) to Sesame Street?

by Kimberly Grams

I just learned that original episodes of Sesame Street are out on DVD (Volume 2 was released in November). They come with a warning: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.” This is a joke, right? This is the show that taught me to READ. By kindergarten, I could read any book they threw at me. Why the warning? So, I did a little research.

Desperate for “Desperate”

by Kimberly Grams

Vicarious. Cathartic. There’s something therapeutic about watching fictional people do outrageous things. “Desperate Housewives” is my favorite, over-the-top show. It’s juicy – deliciously satisfying. I rate the greatness of the episode how many times there is a plot twist I wasn’t expecting and on the cattiness of the episode, i.e. how many times I say “that witch!

It’s Not FAIR: (or, Cheetahs Never Prosper)

by Kim Grams

Let Kim Grams sweep you off your feet as she probes into the (un?)fairness of Dancing with the Stars. Technical challenges kept this article from you at a more timely moment, but the lesson is timeless!

Higher Movies: The Golden Compass: An Anti-Christian Fantasy

by Nathan Fischer

So what’s all the fuss about? Should I see it or not? IS this film anti-Christian?

Nathan Fischer finds his way to an opening night screening of this controversial work, and gives some direction to thoughts on this polarizing film!

Higher Movies: Beowulf

By Nathan Fischer

When I first heard that the movie Beowulf was coming out (and in 3D, no less), I was absolutely thrilled. The poem is a classic, one of my favorites, and I just couldn’t wait to see how it turned out on the bigscreen. I must say, I was not disappointed. Though adhering more loosely to the poem than many might like, the movie still has much going for it: some incredibly awesome action scenes, the best CGI animation to date, and the acting wasn’t half bad, either. It also had a great story, a very human story,which I will get to in just a minute.

"Pushing Daisies" Or Pushing Beliefs?

by Kimberly Grams

I had a rule. But then Rev. Heinz asked if I had seen “Pushing Daisies” and was interested in the subject of the “afterlife” on TV. My rule? No new shows until the cancellation carnage is over!

Higher Movies: Vocation in Westerns: High Noon and 3:10 to Yuma

by the Rev. Charles Lehmann

It wasn't until just a few years ago that I saw "High Noon." I'd heard that it was one of the greatest westerns of all time, but I wasn't that interested in seeing it. Old movies take a certain kind of mindset to enjoy. Many of them move too slowly for me to appreciate. But sometimes, even a slow-moving film can grab me.

So You Think You Can Dance? True Confessions of a Former Liturgical Dancer

by Kim Grams

Before I married my husband, now an LCMS pastor, I took adult instruction. As I studied Lutheran doctrine, I learned about worship. It’s not about MY performance, but about God giving and me receiving His gifts. Looking back, I’m horribly embarrassed. Now I let my church just be church and my entertainment be entertainment. (As my husband says regarding the trend of turning church into an entertainment showcase: “I can’t find the ‘Jesus of Entertainment’ in the Bible”).

Hell's Kitchen or Heaven's Table?

by Rev. Rich Heinz

Chef Gordon Ramsay, whose potty mouth makes Simon Cowell look like a cuddly teddy bear, hosts this reality show in which someone is eliminated each week. Would-be chefs of varying talent and training are contending to be the champion, who will be made the Head Chef of the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Las Vegas.

D'OH!: The Simpsons Jump the Shark

by The Rev. Charles Lehmann

Full frontal Bart. I doubt that anyone really wanted to see that. Homer giving the double bird. Yup, really necessary. The Simpsons Movie is out, and it’s earned it’s PG-13 rating honestly and with very little to show for it.

Higher Movies: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by The Rev. Matthew Ruesch

During most summers the release of a new Harry Potter movie would cause Potter fans to get very excited. With Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opening in theaters just ten days before the release of the final book, Deathly Hallows, it would be easy to relegate the movie to the back burner. I would still recommend taking the time to see the movie, if for no other reason than to start priming your minds for Deathly Hallows. Order of the Phoenix diverges from the book quite a bit more than its four predecessor movies, yet still maintains an adequate degree of faithfulness to the original. Significant editing should be expected when 800+ pages is compressed into 2 hours and 25 minutes. And unlike the first four movies, there is very little comic relief. The mood is dark and sad, but it serves to highlight the times witches and wizards are living within, once “You-Know-Who” has returned.

Higher Movies: Evan Almighty

by Sandra Ostapowich

Did you know that the story of Noah in the Bible is really a love story? A story about people loving each other, believing in each other, working together – side by side, two by two, in pairs, families. It’s true! God said it. Well, Morgan Freeman said it and he’s played God in TWO movies, so it must be at least kinda true. And the ark wasn’t really a ginormous boat floating in a a worldwide flood or anything like that. It was about Noah’s A.R.K. – his Acts of Random Kindness to the critters and people on the boat. Ain’t that precious? If you haven’t been to church in a few years and can’t remember the last time you opened a Bible but vaguely remember a story about Noah – that sounds pretty good, right?

We'll Always Have A Paris

by The Rev. George F. Borghardt III

Paris HiltonWhy bother? She's in jail, she's out of jail, she's back in the jail. She eats, she doesn't eat. Does she have a rash? A twitch? Who really cares? Now she's out and it's like nothing happened! She's right back to partying.

Higher Movies: Dare to Be Different: Nancy Drew

by The Rev. David C. Mumme

Of all the movies I never thought I would actually go to the theater to see, Nancy Drew has to be at the top of the list. Nancy Drew, after all, is for girls. Now if it were Nancy Drew Meets the Hardy Boys, well then maybe. But I have ten- and eleven- year- old daughters who have read lots of Nancy Drew books, so attend I did. And I actually liked it. (but please don't tell any of my friends!).

Higher Movies: The Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer

by Stan Lemon

Following a growing list of bad sequels by Marvel, The Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer steps into line right behind Spider-Man 3. Marked by a rather well-written introduction, our four fantastic friends, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, Torch and the Invisible Girl, return in this sequel – which,sadly, is ruined by convenient story changes and an unnecessarily sappy wedding twist.

Pastoral Predictions of Potter's Predicaments

by The Rev. Matthew Ruesch

So I've read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the fifth time, in preparation for the movie of the same name on July 11th. And I've given away all my Harry Potter books, going on sort of a "Harry Potter fast" in preparation for the seventh installment in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Higher Movies: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - A Sequel To Disappointment

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

I enjoyed the first Pirates of the Caribbean. I really did. I thought Jack Sparrow was hilarious and the action was good. I even though the ending wrapped things up pretty well. If that was the only Pirates movie to be made, I would have been happy. But they had a sequel. And it was long. And it was slow. And the story wasn't really clear to me. So I didn't really enjoy it. Well, the third installment has arrived. Would it tie up lose ends? Would it bring the whole story to a satisfying conclusion? The answer, after seeing the movie, is a resounding "No" to all of the above. Pirates 3 was a very long movie that moved slowly and the story was a bit confusing and for a fantasy type epic, the ending wasn't very satisfying. Now, I will give full disclosure. Last year we went to Disney World in Florida and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was closed down for renovation. So I didn't get to ride this classic. Maybe that's where my disappointment ultimately stems from. Then again, I think this latest Pirates film was really not a particularly great flick.

Higher Movies: Spider-Man 3

by Stan Lemon

[Spoilers follow...]

The final installation of the Spider-Man Trilogy opened on May 4th, which is supposed to wrap up a number of plot lines from the first two movies, particularly Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship and Harry’s burning desire for revenge. Spider-Man 3 has a lot to live up to, after the first two movies. Unfortunately, the only expectation Spider-Man 3 lived up to was the initial box office revenues, breaking the record previously held by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (another bad sequel) with a whopping 59.3 million dollars.

Diary of an American Idol Junkie

by Kim Grams

The week before the finale:

When I go to church, I'm there for the Word and Sacraments. I don't expect to be entertained by a rock band at the altar or something resembling the American Idol finale. HOWEVER, when I want to be entertained by watching something like American Idol, it�d better knock my socks off.

Higher Movies: Shrek the Third: Vocation, Vocation, Vocation

by Nathan Fischer

More fairy tale figures abound in the third Shrek installment, which hit theaters May 18. This time, everybody’s favorite green ogre is on another journey, and trouble just won’t let him be. He must find the next heir to the throne of Far Far Away, save the kingdom from the ruthless Prince Charming, and deal with the news that he is about to become a daddy.

The Bachelor

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

It began with my ill wife dozing on the sofa on Easter Monday evening. I was in another chair. She had the remote. We had watched “Dancing with the Stars,” and now no one changed the channel. The following program unfolded before our eyes and we could not help but watch it, like nosy passers-by near an accident. What was it? “The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman.”

Higher Movies: Cowabunga My Lutheran Dudes and Dudettes

by Nathan Fischer

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  Woohoo!  Yes, I went and I saw the new movie out in theaters.  And I have to say – it was incredibly awesome.  The action should be enough to enrapture any male child, and the jokes were funny enough for any adult.  The CGI Animation was absolutely incredible, too.  Yes, that movie rocked.  It might help that I've been a TMNT fan since my early childhood but, regardless, I think most people looking for a good, clean, funny, outlandish, action film will have a good time at this one.