Movie Musings

Gladiator | Movie Musings

(Moving Musings are my thoughts on some of the all-time greats in cinema. I love story and the power that comes with it, so I thought it would be fun to occasionally post about them. Also, there shall be spoilers. If interested in past Movie Musings, just click here!)

First things first: Y’all I LOVE this movie. It has all the pieces in a story that captivate my attention. A hero driven by something greater than himself, a purpose, a perfect soundtrack that stirs your heart as soon as you hear it….I just love it. Even the phrase Maximus likes to say is one of my favorites, “Strength and Honor.”

And if you didn’t know, my cat’s name also happens to be Maximus. And this scene? Mic drop.

(This may have also been the recording to my voicemail in my early days of cell phones. I thought I was such a cool college kid in 2000.)

This movie also has one of my favorite all time movie quotes:

“What we do in life, echoes in eternity.”

Now onto our main characters: Commodus and Maximus. Of the quote “strength and honor,” one had both, one had neither. One thought it was okay to have a society that fed off of death. How disturbing that a whole culture rejoiced and thrived off of human life fighting to the death for entertainment. The other? He fought to keep the dream of something more beautiful alive; a Republic. A nation for the people.

© 2000 – Dreamworks LLC & Universal Pictures – All Rights Reserved

Also Commodus is ridiculously creepy. Why else didn’t we like him? He was a coward, he cared only for himself, created laws depending on his mood and had little care for the people of Rome, the people he was supposed to be serving.

Yet, on the other hand, soldiers and gladiators alike trusted and followed Maximus, many to death. Why? He had honor, integrity, he put others before himself (and why Marcus Aurelius wanted him Emperor), loved his family and was brave (among other attributes). He was what a leader should be.

© 2000 – Dreamworks LLC & Universal Pictures – All Rights Reserved

What makes a leader? What makes a person the kind of person others will follow?

Furthermore, when I watch this movie, I often ask myself: What will my legacy be? Both Commodus and Maximus left very different legacies. Will I be remembered as one who fought for the people and where I put others before me? Did I give my life and heart to something beyond myself?

Lord, may the answer to that question be yes.

Have y’all seen this movie? Share some of your thoughts!

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Inklings

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (Plus It’s International Inklings Day!!)

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I don’t want you to miss any of the posts this week, so be sure to check them out here!) 

I miss you Oxford!

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.” Cicero

Today is officially International Inklings Day!!!! On this day 90 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.

Yet, truth be told, it wasn’t friendship at first sight. After that first meeting, Lewis commented (I believe jokingly!) about Tolkien: “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” He thought him rather opinionated, but this was more due to the fact that at the time Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic. As Diana Pavlac Glyer’s explained in Bandersnatch (which really is an excellent book and you should all read it!)

“It got worse. As Lewis and Tolkien got to know each other, it became clear that they had a number of serious disagreements. They had different interests and personalities. They came from different religious traditions. And they had different academic specialties. Lewis was an expert in literature and philosophy; Tolkien was a philologist, an expert in languages. He loved Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Lewis said that meeting Tolkien triggered two of his childhood prejudices. He explains, “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a [Catholic], and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.

Soon after the faculty disagreed on required courses for English students and Lewis and Tolkien found themselves on opposite sides of the debate. So Tolkien decided that in order to win people over to his curriculum, he would gather the faculty together to bring about love for mythology and ancient languages. This turned out to be a genius move. Once again, I’ll quote Bandersnatch:

Lewis and Tolkien discovered they had significant common ground. They gravitated towards each other because they shared an interest in what they called “northernness,” the vast skies, icy landscapes, and heroic tempers of the ancient Vikings. As they talked together, Lewis was slowly won over to Tolkien’s view of the English curriculum. And as they worked side by side, they forged a solid friendship. E. L. Edmonds, a student at Oxford, remembers, “It was very obvious that [Lewis and Tolkien] were great friends—indeed, they were like two young bear cubs sometimes, just happily quipping with one another.”

Tolkien would go on to play a significant role in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (especially on the night of September 19, 1931, where, along with Hugo Dyson, the three men spent hours discussing life and faith and Lewis later said this was his final push for Christianity) and Lewis would be Tolkien’s biggest supporter and encourager in finishing Lord of the Rings and other works. Their friendship was a staple in each other’s lives and, while, in later years the friendship did change, it never lost it’s meaning.

In Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez, we see that “with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling lead.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him [did I] ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.”

I’ll leave with a few fun facts because I’m all about fun facts.

  • Lewis’ character, Elwin Random, in Out of the Silent Planet, resembles Tolkien quite a bit. Elwin means “elf-friend” and the character is a Cambridge philologist who has a love for languages.
  • The Professor in Narnia was also inspired by Tolkien.
  • Treebeard was inspired by C.S. Lewis.
  • They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis
  • They both lost their moms at a young age
  • Tolkien’s dad died when he was a toddler and Lewis’ Dad withdrew and sent Lewis to a boarding school after his mother’s death.
  • They both fought in WWI.
  • In 1961, Lewis nominated Tolkien for the Nobel Peace Prize in literature (which he totally should have won)
  • Both Humphrey Carpenter (Tolkien’s official biographer) and Edith Tolkien (when she told scholar Clyde S. Kilby) stated that C.S. Lewis actually wrote Tolkien’s obituary, which was published the day after his death (9/2/73) in The Times.

“My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer tea and pipes.”

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief look at Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship! Who has greatly encouraged and inspired you in your life?

Ponderings

9 Lessons From Abraham Lincoln (Because He’s a Fav)

I have no shame in my love of history, especially all things about the Civil War. I’m a huge fan of Lincoln (and memorized the Gettysburg Address because I love it so much and it’s what all the cool kids are doing these days). So to honor his memory, here’s a few lessons I’ve taken away from good ol’ Abe. Plus tomorrow is his 206th birthday.

1. Surround yourself with people who challenge you.
Lincoln choose men for his cabinet who opposed many of his politics and ideas. Why? He knew he would be challenged. Surround yourself with people who will challenge you in your personal life, your relationships and your work/school.

2. Sometimes short and sweet has more impact.
The Gettysburg Address, one of the greatest speeches in American history, was just over two minutes long.

3. Try things you wouldn’t normally try.
Lincoln studied math because he wanted to sharpen his reasoning skills. Exercise your mind and never stop learning.

4. Honesty always win.
Always.

5. Laugh.
Lincoln was all about a good joke. Don’t take things so seriously you forget what life is really about.

“Live a good life. In the end it is not the years in a life, but the life in the years.”

6. Live fearlessly.
Not recklessly mind you, but without fear. Fear can be a powerful thing if we let it guide us. Don’t let it stop you from trying something new. It’s not always easy, but worth it.

7. Don’t be afraid to fail.
It isn’t pleasant when we do, but some of the greatest lessons learned are from times something has failed. Learn from mistakes and failures. Pick yourself up, dust off your pants and take that step forward. Lincoln once said: “I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.”

8. To be truly great, be about something bigger than yourself.
There are lots of people who have tremendous leadership skills, but that doesn’t make them great. Led by his faith and focus on others (like, say, an entire nation), Lincoln led with greatness.

9. And finally: Do what’s right, even when it’s costly.
Lincoln was assassinated because of what he did. I don’t know how many of us will have the opportunity to free people and save a nation, but we can make an impact in our circle of influence, no matter the size. It can be in small everyday decisions or life-changing decisions. Inspiring stories never feature people who cheat, lie or turn their back on others. Doing what’s right is always worth it.

High five President Lincoln. High five.

Who is one of your favorite President and what lessons did their life teach you?

Travel Adventures

The Day They Stormed the Beaches

Today we commemorate the 70th anniversary when troops stormed the beaches of Normandy’s coast, beginning the end of the Nazi hold on France and World War ll. Thousands of lives were lost that day, and the world saw what heroes were made of, what sacrifice and courage look like and the cost of freedom. They truly were a great generation.

“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you…I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle…let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

I had the opportunity to be in Normandy on the 60th anniversary with my family and it was, of course, an incredible experience. I thought today would be the perfect day to share some of that trip (back in the days of my first Canon film ;).

We were in the towns of Arromanches-les-Bains and Bayeux, as we headed to what was known on D-Day as Gold Beach (where British landed). Since it was so chaotic (understandably), we ended up teaming up with a few American tourists, a French guy visiting from another part of the state and two other French men who lived in Normandy. We were a rag tag team finding our way through northern France and I remember when we were thanking one of the French men (he pulled up on his bike with a baguette in the front basket – I jest not ;)) for going to get his car to drive us, he said no thanks was necessary, “It is because of America, we are free!” The perfect statement for that day!

This was one of my favorite sights throughout the town.
Such inspiring men!
I love French towns.
Gold Beach

It as such a life-changing trip and I really want to go back to Europe after going through all my old pictures! Are any of you WWII history buffs? Or how about family stories? I’d love to hear them!

Here’s the words from the poem as well:

Dear Veteran,
I’m writing to say “Thank You,” and through me, there are thousands of children speaking to thousands of Veterans.

Like us, you were young and carefree, but when you were only twenty years old, Liberty called – called you to say:

“I’m dying, come and save me!”

And you arose, full of courage and zeal, to answer that call.

You underwent training, day after day, for “D” Day, and one day in June, you arrived by air and sea.

And you fought with the heart and soul of a free man, so that we, too, might be free.

You saw your fellows fall on our beaches and in our fields and, in spite of your grief and your injuries, you stayed on and fought side-by-side with us.

And so, dear Veteran, I want to tell you, regarding those dear to you who sacrificed their youth and are now resting in peace, the sleep of the just, that,

WE ARE CHILDREN THEY NEVER HAD.

And to you, dear Veteran, who offered your bravery and your most promising years for this our land, I say to you,

WE ARE YOUR SONS, SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF LIBERTY,
who want to say to you today,
a heartfelt THANK YOU!

Other D-Day related posts:

D-Day 70th Anniversary Blog Tour – and Giveaway
! (A tour of WWII inspired fiction)
The Guardian’s Interactive D-day landings scenes in 1944 and now
BBC’s iWonder
The real lessons of D-Day

Family Life, Travel Adventures

A Japanese Legacy

One of the favorite parts of my trip to Japan this past summer, was when we went to hang out with Mariko’s grandparents.

We hopped on the train and headed over to their house (which they’ve lived in forever) and spent such a relaxing and wonderful afternoon. Do I speak Japanese? Nope. (Unless you count “I eat rice in my house,” then yes, I’m fluent). Do Mariko’s wonderful Grandparents speak English? Nope. But were we able to have an amazing time? Why, yes we were! With Mariko translating, it worked out perfect.

There was one time during lunch when the chopsticks weren’t being my friend, so I attempted to be stealth and just grab the cucumber with my fingers. I figured that was better than trying to stab it with the chopstick. Totally thought no one was paying attention to me, but nope…totally busted. How’s that for immersing myself in the Japanese culture? But they simply laughed.

But more than that, I’m so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from them, be encouraged by them and simply get to know more of their story. A legacy is the only thing you’ll leave behind and I promise you, the one they have started has already made an incredible impact on the world!

My hope and prayer is that this glimpse into the lives of Shizuko and Saichi Ohashi inspires and encourages you as much as it did me.

As a teenager during World War II, Shizuko still can recall the constant bombings on her city and watching the B-29 Superfortresses fly over their city. It’s hard for me to even imagine what that would have been like. To have a never ending fear of a bomb falling from the sky. To not know when it would end. What if my country, instead of unleashing the power of the A-bomb, was victim to it? How would my heart have handled losing such a war? I believe she said it best: That while losing was a blow to Japan, simple put, war is never a good thing.

Yet, even while having lived through that history, joy abounds from each of them.

But our time there wasn’t all sadness and dark times from decades past. Most of the time we spent chatting about family, our adventures and faith. Both came from Buddhist backgrounds, but after their two daughters became Christians, they started going when they were in their fifties. At first they started going because Christianity wasn’t about money (as their experience with Buddhism had been). That led to discussions with several pastors and finally one led them both to Jesus.

Two quotes that stuck with me? “Believing in Jesus and being a Christian is joy” and “We have Jesus to protect us.” Said with such conviction and decades of life experiences behind them, it was such a great reminder of Truth.

What a joy and privilege it is for me to be able to share some of their wisdom, story and to spend time with them, even if only for one summer afternoon.

To end, I’ll close with a very special 4 Questions with Shizuko (some the same, some a bit different!)

1. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was growing up, I didn’t have the option or choice to get an education. If I could go back, I would like to study all kinds of topics. I especially want to learn to speak English so I can communicate my grandchildren, great grandchildren and more American friends.

2. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
As you know it is very important to have a son to carry on the family name in Japan. We didn’t have boys, but God blessed us with wonderful and God-loving son-in-laws.

3. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want the next generation to know this most important thing: If they could, meet Jesus when they are young and memorize as much of God’s Word as you can.

And you know me, being the romantic that I am, tossed in a couple of extras for the interview!

4. How did you and your husband meet?
I was sewing clothes for family and friends with my free time back then. There was a country rail road employee apartment near our house and Saichi asked the apartment manager if he knew a good seamstress to sew his clothes. She recommended me to him, so he started to come over and that’s how we met!

5. What’s your advice for a lasting marriage?
Trust each other. Don’t talk back to each other, but share your opinions. Care for each other, especially when it comes to healthy living.

(Interviewed with the help of Kumiko Barnes)

We’re best friends now.

Thanks so much for reading! I never get tired of hearing people’s stories! So who has inspired you? What about your grandparents?

Travel Adventures

Jet Lag and Hilarity in Japan

Since jet lag is still hanging out and we’re up before things open, what better thing to do then blog? So here’s a few iPhone pics of the adventures so far! We’re in Kyoto for the next few days and I know it’ll be amazing. The history of this place is incredible (Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years) and I can’t wait to explore!

My first Japanese sunset on the way to Nagoya from Tokyo.


Erin and I arrived after (for me) about 26 hours of travel. It was so nice to have the three flights finished!


Kicking it off immersing ourselves in the culture 😉


The Bullet Trains and insane! When one flew by as we were waiting for ours, it came by so fast and loud, it scared the McDonald’s out of me.


Our hotel was only 10 minutes from the station, but it may have taken us an hour and a half to find though. What! What!


This is the prefect picture of how we felt while sweating our faces off searching for our place 😉I almost passed out when I saw they had a Cafe du Monde in Kyoto!!


The photo booths in Japan are hil.a.r.ious. They made our eyes huge! We could not stop laughing!

Alright internet, thanks for sharing in the hilarious journey so far!

Author Interviews

4 Questions With Award-Winning Author Jocelyn Green

Unless you just met me 12 seconds ago, my love for history is a pretty well known fact. Two of my favorite eras include WWII and the Civil War. So if an author covers either one of those topics, I’m in for the win.

And y’all Jocelyn Green knows a thing or two about writing, military and the Civil War! I really enjoyed Green’s first book, Wedded to War, in Heroines Behind the Lines series and the second just came out! She also writes non-fiction, encouraging army wives across the globe. So pretty much she’s awesome. I’m so glad to have her here on the blog with 4 Questions!

Award-winning author Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage in her readers through both fiction and nonfiction. A former military wife herself, she offers encouragement and hope to military wives worldwide through her Faith Deployed ministry. Her novels, inspired by real heroines on America’s home front, are marked by their historical integrity and gritty inspiration.

Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She is an active member of the Evangelical Press Association, Christian Authors Network, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Military Writers Society of America.

She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at http://www.jocelyngreen.com.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
Well, five years ago, I didn’t have my first book published yet. (Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives was my first and released in November 2008.) So I would never have imagined that in five years, I would have written or co-authored four nonfiction titles, a devotional Bible, and two novels, with three more contracted and scheduled to release in the next 18 months.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I imagine that every author, when rereading a book she/he has published, can point to a passage and think of a better way to write it after it’s been printed. But as far as genuine life regrets, or publishing journey regrets, I wouldn’t change anything. There are some lessons you have to learn the hard way, or through hard work, so I don’t wish that my past was different.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
My two happiest days of my life were the days my children were born. Of course my wedding day was a joyous occasion too, but there are so many details and people to please on one’s wedding day. When our babies were born, it was just a much more intimate joy that I shared with my husband—and it was centered not on me, but on the miracle of new life.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
The value of true, flesh-and-blood community, and how to joyfully serve others. We live in such a me-first society, and it’s easy for each of us to be the stars of our own lives. Facebook has changed the meaning of the word “friend” and Twitter tells us we deserve to have “followers.” I use social media too, and I value it as a tool, but it’s no substitute for genuine friendships. I want the next generation to know how to get beyond themselves and reach out to others in need.

 

Book Reviews, Photography

Some of My Favorite Photography Books

If you have had a chance to meander on over to the ever cleverly named tab “About,” you already know that along with writing about my favorite reads, I take pictures (in another life I was a wedding photographer). I love photography as much as I love reading. As I was going through my book inventory I found some favorites I think you’ll enjoy even without having to own a camera.

Cats of the Greek Isles – If you don’t like cats, then I don’t recommend this. But if you like cats and Greece, this one is a winner. It seems like cats there rule the streets and photographer Hans Silvester knows a thing or two about how to creatively capture them.

100 Photographs that Changed the World – Images have the power to speak thousands of emotions and story. This is a collection of some of the most powerful. Photojournalism at it’s greatest.

Bible Road: Signs of Faith in the American Landscape – I heart Jesus, I really do, so this book was a rather interesting and intriguing collection by Sam Fentress. Some people are creative in the ways they share about Jesus and if we’re being honest, some are rather strange.

Great Photographs of World War 2 – My passion in history can be thrown in with the rest of the reasons why I love being a nerd, but this books has hundreds of photos from the last great war. Some pretty powerful stuff.

Did I miss any?