Summertime is movie time, and I recently talked my husband into paying good money to go see The Hustle starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. Don’t come at me Hatha-haters, I think she is alright. The main reason I wanted to see it, however, is that it was marketed as a remake of the 1988 cult classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin and Michael Caine. I love Steve Martin and I LOVED this movie, which Rotten Tomatoes certifies at 89% fresh. Now, I don’t always agree with the Rotten Tomatoes critics, so I was undeterred by it’s paltry 15% rotten rating of new flick.
I should have been deterred. Rebel Wilson, who I think can be charming, has built her career thus far on the cheap and easy laugh. My husband hates that type. But he loves me. Bless him. So he endured what was, mercifully, a short cinematic disappointment. The stars, frankly, lacked charisma and the whole thing fell short of the wit and appeal of the original. I know, I know. Remakes are never as good as the original. Except sometimes they are. I loved The Fugitive (ok a TV show remake, but still a remake), the new Aladdin (critics didn’t really agree with me), Ocean’s 11, The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday and Hairspray! Even my beloved Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a remake of a 1964 movie called Bedtime Story.
As much as I love a good movie (let’s face it, even a mediocre one will do), I think I still prefer reading for both entertainment and enlightenment. I post here often about my latest literary conquests, as I devour novels and comedic tomes as well as biographies, memoirs, and other forms of non-fiction. Perhaps my favorite, though, are contemporary works written about the Christian faith. By studying the stories and research of others, my beliefs are often strengthened, encouraged and challenged. Some of my recent favorites are:
The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament by Aubrey Sampson
Stolen Jesus: A Unconventional Search for the Real Savior by Jami Amerine
It’s a Love Story: From Happily to Ever After by Lincee Ray
A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkel
All very different and, in my estimation, excellent works.
I’m not cutting back on my reading habit. I wouldn’t know how! But I want to make sure I’m discerning and seeking God’s voice above all others. I read recently (yes, in one of my books – the last one in my list) that, “Christian is the greatest of all possible nouns and the lamest of all possible adjectives. it’s meant to describe a person, not a thing.” A person can be a Christian. A book, song or movie cannot. And just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean their art has merit for me. Many Christians have wildly differing views of theology. So what is a blue stocking to do?
- Give weight to the source of a recommendation. Not everything labeled “Christian” is worth your time, money and intellectual energy. When someone I know and trust likes a book, I’m much more likely to pick it up than if I see a review in a magazine.
- Hold what you are reading up against scripture. Does it jive with what you know to be true of God’s character and His commands? If you aren’t sure about something, research it. Pray about it. Ask a pastor, friend or mentor for their take.
- Don’t just skim over scripture references. Look them up. Read commentary on them or reference the Blue Letter Bible (by app or online) for information on the meaning of words in the original language. Are the verses used in the appropriate context? Double check me too!
- Use good books to compliment your study, but focus your study on the Bible. God’s holy word. That is the true meat. Our daily bread. Everything else is gravy.
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