Author Archives: Katy

The Old Guard: A Review

The Old Guard created by Greg Rucka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had seen trailers for this particular movie in July, and I thought it might be something I would enjoy.  The premise is a group of immortal warriors live their lives in secret but use their unique skills to help those who are helpless.  Sometimes that means covert operations, sometimes it means being a part of some of the bigger wars.  Their immortality does end one day, unknown when it will happen, but their bodies just stop healing altogether and they die.

I usually talk about the profanity, sexual content, and violent content in any media I consume.  And there is a lot of profanity, but there is a lot of violent content.  You see bullet wounds, blown up body parts, just a lot of violence.  But I think that’s really a lot of the point of the plot.  One of the neat things they did was have each character with a special old-world weapon.  They would use that weapon in conjunction with newer weapons in almost a graceful dance.

There are two plots to the story.  One is that another immortal has surfaced.  This hasn’t happened for a couple of centuries.  They have dreams that tell them that there is another one around, and the new immortal has dreams about the others until they have found each other.  So, they set out to find this new girl and we see a lot of this story through her eyes.

The second plot is that there is a company that is hunting the immortals.  The pharmaceutical company, Merrick, wants to take these people apart and find out how they are able to heal and survive death so many times.  And in the world of pictures and records, it’s getting harder for them to hide.

The themes of teamwork and loneliness and making a difference that could help in generations to come are all blatantly set out in the dialog.  The dialog felt at times a little too neat, everything explained quickly and simply.  The characters are basically hand-holding the audience to the place they want them to be.

The movie was okay.  It had a lot of potential that I think it missed, but there is a major cliffhanger at the end of the movie.  So, hopefully this movie is just the set-up to a more complex one in the future.  Of course, that depends on the ability to even make a second one soon enough for people to remember the first one, and in this climate, that’s not so simple.  This might have been better as a TV series.  This felt like an elongated pilot.  If you like a good, simple, fighting movie, I would say check it out.  But don’t expect anything too deep or complex in this first movie.

Humanity – Romans 12

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

Romans 12: 14-16

I know that all we want is normal. And this year is far from normal on so many fronts. It’s easy to slip into the fear, to grasp onto the entitlement that we think or hope to deserve. Making ourselves the underdog hero of our story makes that triumph feel within our reach. And when it doesn’t happen, when chaos whips around us, it is really easy to lash out at the other side, make them the villain.

In movies, the villain used to be all bad. It was the thing or person that the hero conquered. But in more recent years, movies have presented the villains as misunderstood or misguided, even capable of being good or changing course. It gives more depth to the characters, more understanding in their own humanity. In Romans 12:14, this idea of blessing people who are persecuting you gives that same chance to keep other people’s humanity intact.

Removing their humanity requires us to remove a piece of our own humanity, to forget our flaws in the face of outrage.  To forget the grace we need when we are learning and growing.  We forget how long it sometimes takes for our hearts to soften, or how much pain or fear can blind us to what is going on around us. But in addition to keeping the humanity intact, or maybe in order to do so, there is also this thread through these verses to keep our entitlement in check as well. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn requires a healthy dose of empathy.  The empathy removes entitlement.  I rejoice because I connect with those who are rejoicing.  I see their humanity, their need to rejoice because things are so hard.  Same with mourning.  I see their humanity, their need for space to mourn how they need to, not how I think they should.  I won’t push their pain or their joy under the rug when it is convenient to me.

I am willing to associate with people in a lower position. Or maybe even a different position. People who are not like me, who don’t think like me or read the same news outlets and articles that I do, who don’t have the same priorities that I do. It’s really easy to disassociate myself from others and make judgment calls and create labels to write off their humanity from my own echo chamber.

When we see each other as humans, as creations of God, it doesn’t matter what labels are given to the people around us. We are called to have the sober understanding that under God, we are all the same. These verses are really challenging me to put down the desire to be right and superior in that rightness.  Instead, we are called to love wholly with the love we receive from our holy God.

I don’t know when the chaos will stop. But judging from my past experiences with loss and disruption, I know that the day will come. I have real concern about the divisions in our country, our church, and our community. But I also know that God is in control, that he loves us completely in our own humanity. So, I can trust in God, and that frees me to humbly embrace others in their humanity and love as God first loved us.

The Color of Compromise : A Review

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t always like history. All those dates and lists that I had to memorize. But as I get older, I find history fascinating. How the choices of a few, or the many, affected so much of how our world is today.

Going into this book, I knew the basics of the evolution of the church. From the Catholic church to Martin Luther to King Henry and the church of England. From the Pilgrims to the Restoration Movement. But I didn’t realize how much the church impacted so many social and government decisions throughout history.

This book reads similar to a history book, though with much more narrative. It includes both significant American events as well as the evolution of both white and black churches, racism, and slavery before the Civil War. It touches on that particular war, but continues to name the complicity of both the North and South in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Each chapter’s introduction includes a purpose for what it will try to explain in that chapter, and the chapter’s conclusion recalls that purpose and how it was met in the chapter. While this was a little repetitive, it served as an ebb and flow to the narrative. The book ends with a chapter challenging the church and culture to take action in a variety of ways.

The author doesn’t use profanity in the book. Sexual content includes descriptions of rape used in example situations and the sexualization of black people. Violent content includes lynchings and massacres as they happened throughout our history.

I really enjoyed this broad look at our nation’s and church’s history here in America. It was eye-opening to see the connections that were made. But I really liked the fact that the book ends with hope and actionable ideas to challenge the church, to encourage us to a better future for all.

Remembering Lisa

Last week, my cousin, Lisa, passed away at 41 from cancer.  She was diagnosed just last year with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer, and the treatment they did was pretty aggressive – chemo, a mastectomy, followed by radiation.  But after the mastectomy, they did tests and found that the cancer had spread.  She returned to chemo treatments, but the cancer still spread.  She was hospitalized a few weeks ago, but her body just couldn’t recover. 

Even though she is my cousin, we have always had more of a sisterly bond.  I wanted to be just like her when I was a kid.  I remember one night we were going somewhere with friends and they remarked how much I acted like her.  I responded with “Yeah, buddy” which was something she said all the time, and the whole car just burst into laughter.

She taught me about make-up, boys, sex, and peer pressure.  When I was 14, she had just graduated high school, and we were both staying at our grandparents’ house for the summer.  We went camping with some friends and they brought out some alcohol.  When they offered it to me, I said no.  They started to make fun of me, pressure me, but Lisa stopped them in their tracks.  “She said no, and you will respect that.”  Years later, I told her how much that had helped me, and she said that she didn’t really have someone like that in her life, and she wanted to make sure I did.

Her heart was overflowing in generosity.  She loved fiercely, passionately.  When I was pregnant with my son, wrought with anxiety because all I had known up to that point was pregnancy loss, she sent me a journaling Bible with a set of colored pencils.  It has brought me so much comfort, especially in these last few weeks.

The greatest comfort to me was her relationship with God.  She and I had so many conversations in the last few years about faith in God, and hers was incredibility strong.  She was so loved, and she loved so much.  I still look up to her and want to be just like her.  I will miss our conversations.  I will miss her hugs and laugh and even the eye-rolls.  I will miss her passion.  I will miss her.  I love you so much Lisa.

Trust – Romans 12

I really love this chapter.  There are so many good verses.  The entire chapter, Paul is talking to the Romans about living in community.  He stresses living humble lives, not conforming to the expectations of the world around them, not letting that world define who they are.

He ends the chapter encouraging the Romans to live a life of love, especially verses 9 to 21.  I’m going to spread out some of these verses for the next couple of weeks because I just want to be totally immersed in this reading.  So, first let’s look at 9 and 10.

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:9-10

In this first verse, the word love used in the Greek is Agape – that unconditional godly love. This is a love that flows from God through us to others.  Paul is challenging the Romans to love in a way that builds trust.  Be aware and vigilant of the things that are hurting other people.  Denounce those activities and look for ways to be encouraging and good.  It is an active, relentless exhibit of kindness and sacrifice, not dependent on our own strength or ability to love, but that which is given freely to us by God.

The first part of verse 10 uses a different kind of love – Philostorgoi which is Greek for brotherly, familial love. It’s a continuation of that trust being built. The second part of verse 10 is written to be an act of humble leadership, setting an example to others on how to love.  To see others as priceless, worth more than money, even worth more than themselves.

We live in unknown times where trust is broken a lot. We trust leaders to make sound decisions. We trust medical providers to give clear diagnoses. We trust community to care and be dependable.

But we also live in a broken world, which ends up breaking trust. Which is why I feel like these verses are so important right now. Right now, as Christians, we need to be exhibiting a sincere and consistent love. We need to lead in a humble way to show how God loves to other people. And the only way we can do that is by dying to self and turning to God.

Because ultimately, love is meant to be a step out in faith, trusting that God will equip us in the unknown. Above everything else, that is a truth I can trust.

Chasing Vines: A Review

Chasing Vines by Beth Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the most recent book that came out earlier this year.  Beth Moore, on a trip with her daughters to Italy, fell in love with the vineyard country.  She continued her research into viticulture and the symbolism used in the Bible.  She challenges the thought process that producing fruit in the Bible simply means baptizing others but is more about the health of all aspects of our lives.

The pruning chapter is so needed, especially in this climate.  Even when obstacles seem to put a stop to everything, God is intimately there, working behind the scenes.  The book ends with a lot of hope, encouragement, and challenge.  Our responsibility to stay connected to The Vine in order to bear fruit in our lives.

There is no profanity or sexual content in this book.  There is a chapter about the death of her dog which I had a hard time reading.  It was quite graphic, but in the end, there was comfort and hope.

I loved the symbolism of viticulture and theology.  Wasn’t quite sure how to decide whether we were dealing with manure or pestilence in certain points in life unless it was in hindsight.  Those were the two chapters I felt the need to reread several times.  Very encouraging book!

Sweet Magnolias: A Review

Sweet Magnolias created by Sheryl Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first impression of the first episode was that this story was quite saccharine-sweet.  And that first impression maintains its accuracy throughout the season.  It takes place in a Southern, fictional town of Serenity and follows the lives of three women who have been friends since high school. 

They want to start a spa together in a mansion that they apparently spent a lot of time in when they were kids.  And I thought the building of said spa was going to be the main focus of the first season.  But as the show continued, the spa became somewhat of an afterthought.

The main focus of the show really were the relationships, between the three women as well as their children, community, and love interests.  There were a couple of love triangles that didn’t feel fully developed.  And sometimes the chemistry also came across as awkward. Also, I don’t know where to fit this, but the accents are all over the place. They are southern accents, but from various regions which is strange since they are all supposed to be from this one town.

In a nutshell, this is an easy, “turn your brain off” kind of show. The conversations, even the more deeper ones are not very long or detailed, even feeling glossed over at times. Plot points are either resolved quickly or ignored for several episodes, only to be mentioned again in the laundry list of drama that they are having to deal with. But in their defense, there seems to be a lot of ground to cover before the cliffhanger at the end. We have to understand how we get to that point, and that means a lot of rushed drama and quick resolutions.

I felt at times like I didn’t know the characters well enough to understand why certain things bothered them or why their reactions were so strong. I know this is based on a book series, so I feel like I’m missing chunks of their motivations because I haven’t read the books. But they will mention something to a character, but then there is no follow up until several episodes later when they dissolve a relationship over that thing that they haven’t really mentioned more than a couple times.

There is profanity throughout the show, usually followed by an apology for the language, and meant to give the speaker either strength or sass.  Sexual content includes several kissing scenes as well as one sex scene that is not graphic at all.  Violence includes some fist fights, some almost assaults, but no one is severely hurt.  There is underage drinking and bullying among the kids which is sort of addressed, again like most of the drama.

But all of those issues aside, I still gave it four stars because it is a nice escape from reality.  Serenity is just one of those places that you can just go with the flow.  The drama is muted, most of the conflict is resolved with ease and cliché.  And the humor is just the right amount of eye-rolling corny that I like.  Big warning, the season ends with a huge cliffhanger, and I’m not sure there will be a second season any time soon (thanks, coronavirus).

Together (Ephesians 2)

I’m doing a devotional right now about peace, and Ephesians 2:10 was used in one of the devotional entries:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

Paul was talking to the Gentiles in Ephesians in this chapter.  Encouraging them because they felt like outsiders.  But that Christ’s blood has unified them with the God of the Jews, giving them hope, making them heirs to the promises and covenants of God.

But as I kept reading, this verse jumped out to me:

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Ephesians 2:14-15

And my heart breaks. 

In this particular passage, Paul is talking about the Gentiles and the Jews, but even today, our world is still split into us and them.  Anger and vitriol are spewed across social media feeds.  Fear feeds into a need for control, and conversations warp into misunderstandings and hurt feelings, continuing a cycle of fear.

Being a type 9, I hate conflict and confrontation, and honestly, I have to be really intentional with my online interactions, especially right now with stress levels already high because of the pandemic.  I have to filter my news intake and watch my stress levels, do copious amounts of self-care like meditation, exercise, eating well, and getting healthy amounts of sleep before I even think about engaging the world right now.

But there is hope.  Christ knows we are a split world.  His sacrifice was a catalyst for unification, not division.  He is a beacon of justice, redemption, and forgiveness.  He is a model of balance, peace, and faith.  Even though the world feels like it’s ending, Christ is there to remind me that the chaos is just a distraction from our calling to love one another. 

So, take a deep breath.  Breathe in Love God.  Breathe out Love Others.  And remember Jesus is coming soon, morning, night, or noon.  He is in control, and he will bring ultimate peace.

An American Marriage: A Review

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a contemporary fiction that was pretty popular a couple of years ago.  I believe it was an Oprah book club pick.  It is set in the south, mostly between a town called Eloe in Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia.

The story starts with Roy being convicted of something he didn’t do.  While visiting his parents, he and his newlywedded wife, Celestial, are staying at a motel where an assault happens.  The victim pins the crime on Roy, and he is convicted, sentenced to 12 years in jail.  This conviction knocks Roy off the path he thought he was headed on – the good job, the house, starting a family. 

During this time, Celestial is now the wife of a convict.  She has to navigate the stigmas as well as find some path through the next 12 years.  Their relationship suffers, and she turns to a friend, Andre, to lean on, which develops into something more.

I really didn’t like Andre’s character.  I didn’t agree with a lot of the choices that were made in this book.  They made me feel uncomfortable.  Although, I also don’t know what it’s like to be falsely accused of a crime and have my whole life turned upside down.  And having to make my relationship choices through that lens.

But I don’t know if the relationships were really the focus, but more so being true to who you are.  Celestial, at the beginning, kind of just flows with whatever everyone wants her to be, and this story really follows her transformation.  Roy also transforms through the time he was in jail.  The story was very real and raw.

There is a lot of profanity.  Sexual content includes abortions, descriptions of naked bodies, talk of rape, implications of sex, with one detailed sex scene.  The violent content includes a fight scene, implications of suicides that happen in prison, as well as the assault/rape at the beginning of the book.

Overall, it’s about two people who faced an unjust justice system.  But it was also about people who were growing up, figuring it out, and letting go to find their settled good.  My favorite part of the story was Roy and his mother’s relationship, as well as the relationships of the older generation.  Interesting read.

Harriet Tubman: They Called Her Moses: A Review

Harriet Tubman: They Called Her Mosus directed by Robert Fernandez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is finally a documentary that I feel like I could recommend to slightly younger audiences (like middle school or maybe older elementary).  It was a pretty straightforward biography of Harriet Tubman, who is pretty well known as a Black history figure.  But there were definitely some things I learned.  It was well-paced, and the narration was dynamic, along with the interviews.

She had a lot of obstacles in her life.  She was hit in the head at 13 which caused her to have seizures and fainting.  She married a free man who refused to run when she was ready to escape.  And she was helped in her escape by Quakers.  She had a strong faith in God.  Christianity empowered her, especially the slave church which was considered an invisible institution. 

There wasn’t any profanity.  There was mention of rapes and brief mention of whippings, but it was pretty tamed compared to other documentaries I’ve watched recently.