Book Review: “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan

Title: The Pilgrim’s Progress
Author: John Bunyan
Format: Novel; Christian allegory
Pages: 182
First Published: 1678, in London
Version Reviewed: THE annotated PILGRIM’S PROGRESS with notes by Warren W. Wiersbe, published in 1980
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Christian, a citizen of the City of Destruction, is desperate to get rid of the mysterious Burden which is on his back and which will not leave him no matter what he does. Following the advice of a man named Evangelist, he begins a journey to the Celestial City. On the way he meets many characters and monsters, some as foes, some as friends, and still more as fellow travelers on the Way. Everyone is seeking something different and deals with the obstacles in different ways.
Reason for Beginning: One of the most important books in the English language and in Christianity. Since I love English literature and am a Christian, I wanted to read this. Continue reading “Book Review: “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan”

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John Bunyan on Christian Fantasy

In his introduction to The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan preemptively defends himself against those who might worry that the trappings of fantasy will diminish the power of biblical truths:

“I find that men (as high as trees) will write
Dialogue-wise; yet no man doth them slight
For writing so: indeed, if they abuse
Truth, cursed be they, and the craft they use
To that intent; but yet let truth be free
To make her sallies upon thee and me,
Which way it pleases God; for who knows how,
Better than he that taught us first to plough,
To guide our mind and pens for his design?
And he makes base things usher in divine.”

In a way that stanza is a defense of Christian fiction itself. He’s saying that the best writers throughout history have often written fiction, and that if someone writes a story that is morally bad, then God will hold them accountable for their intent, but that’s no reason to prevent the good stuff from being written. If a Christian writer writes for God’s glory, God will certainly guide his pen so that, even amidst revisions and diversions and mistakes and perhaps sheer lack of talent, His purpose will be met. Our works cannot be perfect, but by God’s grace they can be good. Isn’t it foolish, says Bunyan, to suggest that God is limited by the imaginations He gives us? He can “make base things usher in divine.”

Graphic Novel Review: Mouse Guard Fall 1152

Huzzah, my last review of 2010! Happy New Year to all of you!

Nice cover. But what

Title: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152
Author: David Petersen. He’s also the artist.
Format: Graphic Novel
Length: 192 pages
Published: May 2007
Spoiler-free Synopsis: “In the world of Mouse Guard, mice struggle to live safely and prosper amongst harsh conditions and a host of predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed: more than just soldiers that fight off intruders, they are guides for common mice looking to journey without confrontation from one hidden village to another…Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam, three such Guardsmice, are dispatched to find a missing merchant mouse that never arrived at his destination. Their search for the missing mouse reveals much more than they expect, as they stumble across a traitor in the Guard’s own ranks.” (from the official website)
Reason for Beginning: I’m a fan of the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, and this looks clearly inspired by it. Plus it’s easy to read graphic novels on my lunch breaks at work.
Reason for Finishing: It’s a quick read and the artwork is very good, very textured. Continue reading “Graphic Novel Review: Mouse Guard Fall 1152”

Movie Review: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

It really is.

Title: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
Director: Frank Capra
Actors: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Score Composer: Dmitri Tiomkin! (a generally awesome composer, being appropriately restrained here, I think)
Length: 130 minutes
Rating (US): Un-rated, since it was before the MPAA system. No objectionable content. Spoiler-free Synopsis: George Bailey, a man who has spent his whole life sacrificing his dreams for others, to seemingly little good effect, is driven to suicidal depression and wishes he had never been born. An angel grants him his wish with the intent of proving to him how valuable his life has been. (hence it qualifies as fantasy. Sorry Clarence.)
Reason for Beginning: Watch it every year, it’s a Christmas tradition!
Reason for Finishing: Great, great movie.
Movie Re-watchability: One of the highest I know. It never grows old, never ceases to move me emotionally. It’s a great movie for cheering you up, because it fully acknowledges the struggles and depression that real people go through in their day-to-day lives, and yet still finds the goodness and warmth in other people that we can be grateful for. Continue reading “Movie Review: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)”

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, O my vast and wildly enthusiastic readership! On this Eve, and tomorrow, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who was and is the Savior sent of God to pay the redemption price for mankind’s sin. I hope you all can spend tomorrow with your closest family and friends, in love and joy together. My prayers and best wishes go out to you all.

I had intended to have published a few Christmas reviews by now, but work and holiday preparations have interrupted the normal writing process. I still may get to them, but there’s no way they’ll get here by tomorrow. Sorry, folks! But, so you know, these are stories I have already finished, and hope to write reviews of within the next week or two. And yes, they are all fantasy.

Movies
A Christmas Carol (1951)
A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Graphic Novels
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152

Calvin and Hobbes share Christmas with each other.

EDIT 01-16-11: I’ve given up on reviewing A Christmas Carol (1951) and A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) this year. At least one of them will be reviewed next Christmas, because I watch them each year.

Reblog: “My Lyme Disease Is Not The IDSA Lyme Disease”

My cousin suffers from the debilitating Lyme disease, and referred me to this article by a blogging Lymie (as they call people with Lyme disease). It’s unfortunate that so much of the professional medical establishment still is unwilling to recognize it as a real illness. This thing is chronic, deadly, even, and it ruins peoples lives. It attacks its victims with a host of terrible symptoms, from insomnia to severe dizziness, to migraines and soreness, to utter severe fatigue that can really incapacitate. So I’m taking a little sidestep from my usual fiction reviewing to highlight the need for greater Lyme awareness. We all know about breast cancer and its dangers, and can get info to fight it easily, but how many people really know that Lyme disease exists, and kills, and yet isn’t treated as a real threat by the “medical establishment?”

I am writing this in response to an article from the Chicago Tribune titled “Chronic Lyme disease: A dubious diagnosis”. You may have read it, if not you can find it here. After reading this article I was speechless. I wasn’t fuming, or shaking in anger. I wasn’t outraged. I was sad. Sad, because the disease that I suffer from is being called “dubious”; because I saw the errors, the biased misrepresentation of people that I respect. I’d like to t … Read More

via I’m in the Lyme-Light

Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Quirky. That is the word I am looking for. In a good way.

Title: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Director: Wes Anderson
Voice Actors: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Michael Gambon, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Eric Chase Anderson (and cameos by Owen Wilson, Brian Cox, Adrien Brody, and Mario Batali, the celebrity chef)
Score Composer: Alexandre Desplat, mainly; other songs featured range from the Beach Boys to Burl Ives, the Rolling Stones to Mozart.
Length: 87 minutes
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Gentleman thief Mr. Fox promises his wife he’ll quit the dangerous thieving lifestyle forever so they can settle down. But years later, frustrated with his boring job as a journalist and its low income, he secretly plans a daring heist against three notoriously-tough farmers. What he doesn’t count on is the rage with which they pursue him and his family for revenge… (not your typical kids’ plot, is it?)
Reason for Beginning: The premise and stop-motion animation intrigued me, and it played in high definition on TV.
Reason for Finishing: Absolutely delightful movie. Continue reading “Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)”