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Friday roundup: Five things worth paying attention to this week

12.21. 2018 Posted By: David and Leann Augsburger 254 Times read

Three movies are worth conversation this week, but it is the holiday season when the rush of films appears for holiday viewers. You may wish to add these to your viewing schedule.

  1. The Green Book. This is a movie that judges you as you sit making judgments about it. If only this film had appeared in the Kennedy era, it would have been even more prophetic in challenging the norms of white arrogance, but all the same, it speaks truth with humor and warmth, even when one knows the bitter outcomes for the oppressed and the false superiority of the those who maintain evil walls. If you, as I did as a boy, rode from north to south in the Jim Crow days and asked a million questions of parents about colored water fountains and all that, this film with reinflict sharp pain.
  2. Roma. Acclaimed Mexican director Alfonio Cuaron gives us a riveting journey through his own childhood in Roma, a suburb of Mexico City. Filmed in black and white, this matchless family story is told through the eyes of the Mixtec maid from Oaxaca and reveals the inner pain of a wealthy professional family in crisis. “No matter what they tell you—women, we are always alone,” the wife and mother says to the maid (more like a sister) as vanishing males, betrayal and abandonment impact them both. This is a film that will stay with you for some time, stirring profound emotion and igniting insight with the bite of human reality.
  3. Can You Ever Forgive Me?” On the big screen, the impact of cheating your neighbor slaps you in the face. Commedienne Melissa McCarthy in a serious, straight but not sober role reveals profound insight into how desperation drives people to violate their moral code. In a time when the idea of a moral code is becoming obsolete in ruthless high places, this sets one mulling about refinding an ethical integer for integrity and putting the ruth back into truth. (“ruth”—look it up—means “pity, sorrow or self-reproach”).
  4. Liturgies that give Light. Each season in our homebase church, we share a fresh liturgy that lifts our souls into the hands of Jesus. Anabaptist worship traditions have tended toward a more spontaneous or free-form style (that become its own haphazard liturgy with predictable word and song). We carefully craft a Christocentric, direct encounter, meet-one-another and be-met-by-the-Other liturgy that worships our Lord as it extends love to the neighbor. We build on an Anabaptist theology of church, discipleship, service, love of other, care for creation and peacebuilding. We find that talking about how we worship (not glibly equating it with “repetitious throw-up songs”) is talking about meeting God.
  5. Grief is mixed with joy, joy with grief. Part of our family, Judy and Sasha, just returned from Moscow this week from the funeral of father and grandfather Valery Platonov, poet and editor and center of love. It is hard to grieve a loss halfway around the world. Last week, friend Steve Thomas shared the pain of flying to Nairobi to claim the body of his amazing brother Phil, reminding us of our many losses this year of dear friends, multiple neighbors and thousands of innocent people in Yemen, Gaza, Syria and 100 other places we all know about. Fire, quake, sword, bomb, sniper, poison gas. Life is so precious, death so certain, yet knowing we are in the mind and heart of God transforms even the worst events.
  6. Sharing cookies. Not just the annual pfeffernuesse but a whole series of collected goodies come to the table. The scent of spices along with the spruce and pine of the tree is the fragrance of Christmas, and sharing cookies with friends who are near, mailing them to those afar is a big part of the joy. The orange molasses crinkles, cranberry orange shortbread and walnut toffee made by Californian Leann, the Ohio buckeyes and German Lebkuchen to reconnect David with Midwest roots, and the dozen much-loved recipes contributed by various friends who bake are made to give away or taste together with a cup of tea.

David and Leann Augsburger are two semi-retired people who co-lead a home base church (Peace Mennonite Church, Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley.

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