Sometimes when life doesn’t go the way we want it to, we may feel like George Bailey of It’s a Wonderful Life. There is much we can learn from George and his compatriots in the fictional Bedford Falls.
Bob Welch has compiled some of what he’s gleaned from the Frank Capra’s movie starring James Stewart and Donna Reed into a book 52 Little Lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life (Thomas Nelson). The easy to read chapters present the challenges of life from a variety of characters including the miser Mr. Potter to the angel Clarence.
Welch gives us insights into how George maintains his passion while also offering suggestions on what this may mean for our own lives.
Some of the chapters may seem repetitive as Welch looks at the same scenes from different angles. Nevertheless, one doesn’t need to read the book all at once. It’s short chapters are ideal for quick devotionals or occasional reading.
The book does occasionally use scripture to highlight how these lessons are grounded in the Christian faith, but this book does not heavily push religion. God is watching over George Bailey, and Welch reminds us that God watches over us all.
If you love Capra’s movie and like reflective or devotional books, this may be something for you. It is not an academic or theological exploration of themes. Welch writes about the “little lessons.”
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On Friday I finally got around to seeing the movie Knowing starring Nicholas Cage. I was curious about it when it first hit the screens, but it took a broken air conditioner and a $1.50 movie theater to finally get me out of the house. It is not Cage’s best movie, though I think he did a fine job.
What bugged me most about the movie was the ending. I don’t want to go into details so as not to spoil it for others. What I will say is that the Cage’s character, John Koestler, is an astrophysicist struggling throughout the two hours about whether it is possible to know the future. He grew up in a strong Christian family, but when his wife died in a fire he gave up whatever remained of any faith.
This faith appears to be tied to a Calvinistic interpretation. According to John Calvin, God predestines people to be saved and taken to heaven, though God may also predestine some not to be saved. This view suggests a world already planned out.
I, on the other hand, follow in the path of John Wesley and Jacob Arminius. In this understanding, humanity has free will to choose or reject God. Now I believe God may already know what our choice is, but it is still our choice.
The movie, Knowing, was entertaining. I liked the general storyline, whereas it revolved around a strange list of numbers that appears to have predicted every major disaster in the past 50 years. As a former mathematics major, I enjoyed seeing numbers play a central role.
However, I do not think it developed the spiritual side of Koestler’s struggle or fully explained the religious imagery behind the list and the surrounding occurrences. This culminates in the strange ending where you cannot be certain if it is really about something religious after all. While Koestler felt peace at the end, I did not.