Charisma editor picks best movie of the year! Slumdog Millionaire, which was nominated in 10 categories, won eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Below is J. Lee Grady's review of this rags-to-riches story.
Fox Searchlight Pictures Directed by Danny Boyle Rated R for some language and scenes of violence
It’s not a Christian film, but Slumdog Millionaire gets my vote for the best movie of 2008 because it deals so honestly with the issue of exploited children.
Set in modern India, it is the story of Jamal (Dev Patel), a low-caste boy raised in the slums of Mumbai amid religious violence and cruel poverty. Orphaned and with little schooling, Jamal and his brother eke out an existence by begging in the streets, riding on top of trains and giving bogus tours of the Taj Mahal to naive tourists.
Fireproof is the story of a couple on the verge of divorce. Caleb and Katherine Holt (Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea) have each allowed stress and temptation to dampen their love and respect for the other, and neither seems to know what to do or is even willing to change. Any chance of saving their marriage seems slim. In a last-ditch effort, Caleb turns to his dad for advice. His dad offers him a 40-day challenge—the “Love Dare”—which comprises daily actions Caleb can do to restore his wife’s heart and hopefully save their marriage. Caleb reluctantly accepts the challenge and at first only half-heartedly follows the steps. Eventually he is truly transformed, but it may be too late to save the relationship. Fireproof has grossed more than $33 million since its theatrical release in September. The DVD bonus features include deleted scenes, jokes and pranks, a discussion guide, commentary, and more. Other resources based on this film, including The Love Dare study, are also available. read more
22 Weeks (Empyrean Films) packs more punch in 38 minutes than some films three times as long. This is not a feel-good movie. It’s based on real-life abortion experiences. It chronicles primarily the story of a young woman who decides to have an abortion. When her baby is born alive in the abortion clinic restroom, she realizes she has made a terrible mistake and begs the clinic workers for help. They do nothing. Ultimately, her 22-week-old son, whom she named Rowan, dies in her arms. At a recent screening, Ángel Manuel Soto, who wrote and directed the film, said that as soon as he heard this woman’s story he knew he had to make the film. Plans for the film include expanding it to feature length. 22 Weeks is not easy to watch, but it could be a valuable resource for churches or anyone with a call to crisis-pregnancy ministry. Click here to purchase 22 Weeks. read more
By John Hagee, Charisma House, hardcover, 256 pages, $21.99.
Problems. Challenges. Hard times. Call them what you like, but they are inevitable in a Christian’s life. In Life’s Challenges Your Opportunities, John Hagee provides valuable insights into dealing with these situations. Hagee focuses on the principle of “promise, problem and provision.” He explains that when God makes a promise, it is followed by a problem that refines and purifies the believer to a point where God’s provision can be received. Using a balanced mixture of personal stories and biblical accounts, Hagee clearly illustrates that problems are not to be avoided, but are to be faced straight on with the knowledge that God is using them to develop the Christian’s divine destiny. Difficult times signal the beginning of a spiritual growth period that leads to a victorious ending. Hagee’s step-by-step guidance gives much-needed hope and encouragement for troubled times ahead.
By Mark Hitchcock, Multnomah Books, hardcover, 208 pages, $19.99.
In the Late Great United States: What Bible Prophecy Reveals About America’s Last Days, Mark Hitchcock, author and frequent lecturer on prophecy themes Mark Hitchcock provides a straightforward review of the many questions and concerns people have about America’s role in the last days. According to the author, the Bible doesn’t specifically mention the U.S. as having a prominent place in the end times. This may indicate that America could fall from power in the last days. Hitchcock provides further evidence of the nation’s possible collapse with the current economic crisis, America’s reliance on foreign oil and the threat of Islamic terrorism. Although this may seem gloomy, Hitchcock says that Christians can find hope in knowing what will happen to them when they leave this earth. He also names three things Christians should do to keep America protected and under God’s favor for as long as possible: Remain vigilant in support of the state of Israel, continue to spread the gospel, and do all they can to practice and promote righteousness. With its personal yet realistic tone, this book is very informative and viable in a time where people want real answers.
Excerpts from The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns
It is important to put the American Church in perspective. Simply stated, it is the wealthiest community of Christians in the history of Christendom. How wealthy? The total income of American churchgoers is $5.2 trillion. (That's more than five thousand billion dollars.) It would take just a little over 1 percent of the income of American Christians to lift the poorest one billion people in the world out of extreme poverty. Said another way, American Christians, who make up about 5 percent of the Church worldwide, control about half of global Christian wealth; a lack of money is not our problem.
A few years back I had the opportunity to spend some time with former president Jimmy Carter. World Vision was collaborating with Habitat for Humanity on one of their massive "blitz build" projects in the Philippines, and I was assigned to work on the same house as President Carter. As we worked, he shared that he had just been asked to prepare a speech that would answer the question, what is the greatest challenge facing humankind in the twenty-first century? It was 1999, and the world was focused on the beginning of the new millennium. I was quite surprised at the former president's conclusion. He believed that the greatest problem of our time was the growing gap between the richest and poorest people on earth.Let me start with the good news. You're rich, we're rich, and the Church in America is rich. And now I am sure you are thinking that I am wrong, that you're not rich, and neither is your church. But bear with me, because wealth is always measured in relative terms. Brace yourselves for this good news! If your income is $25,000 per year, you are wealthier than approximately 90 percent of the world's population! If you make $50,000 per year, you are wealthier than 99 percent of the world! Does this shock you? Remember, of the 6.7 billion people on earth, almost half of them live on less than two dollars a day.
If you earn $50,000 per year in America and you don't feel rich, it's because you are comparing yourself to people who have more than you do-those living above even the 99th percentile of global wealth. It's also because we tend to gauge whether or not we are wealthy based on the things we don't have. If we think we need a bigger house or apartment, a nicer car, more clothes, or the ability to go out for dinner more often, we don't feel "rich." Again, it's all relative to our expectations. When you realize that 93 percent of the world's people don't own a car, your old clunker starts to look pretty good. Our difficulty is that we see our American lifestyles as normative, when in fact they are grossly distorted compared to the rest of the world. We don't believe we are wealthy, so we don't see it as our responsibility to help the poor. We are deceived.
There is much at stake. The world we live in is under siege-3 billion are desperately poor, 1 billion hungry, millions are trafficked in human slavery, 10 million children die needlessly each year, wars and conflicts are wreaking havoc, pandemic diseases are spreading, ethnic hatred is flaming, and terrorism is growing. Most of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the developing world live in grinding poverty. And in the midst of this stands the Church of Jesus Christ in America, with resources, knowledge, and tools unequaled in the history of Christendom. I believe that we stand on the brink of a defining moment. We have a choice to make.
When historians look back in one hundred years, what will they write about this nation of 340,000 churches? What will they say of the Church's response to the great challenges of our time-AIDS, poverty, hunger, terrorism, war? Will they say that these authentic Christians rose up courageously and responded to the tide of human suffering, that they rushed to the front lines to comfort the afflicted and to douse the flames of hatred? Will they write of an unprecedented outpouring of generosity to meet the urgent needs of the world's poor? Will they speak of the moral leadership and compelling vision of our leaders? Will they write that this, the beginning of the twenty-first century, was the Church's finest hour?
Or will they look back and see a Church too comfortable, insulated from the pain of the rest of the world, empty of compassion, and devoid of deeds? Will they write about a people who stood by and watched while a hundred million died of AIDS and fifty million children were orphaned, of Christians who lived in luxury and self-indulgence while millions died for lack of food and water? Will schoolchildren read in disgust about a Church that had the wealth to build great sanctuaries but lacked the will to build schools, hospitals, and clinics? In short, will we be remembered as the Church with a gaping hole in its gospel? read more