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Starring Cicely Tyson

(Running time – 200 minutes)
(Distributed by Xenon Pictures, Inc., available at: Amazon.com)

“I’ll meet you in de mornin’,
When you reach de promised land;
On de oder side of Jordan,
For I’m boun’ for de promised land.”

During the cruel oppression of black people in the nineteenth century, many prayed for freedom. Some felt overwhelmed and helpless, but one woman who did something about it was Harriet Tubman, the little lady who rescued three to four hundred slaves in the mid-nineteenth century, earning the title, of a “Moses to her people”.

Harriet would not blame God for any hard circumstances but acknowledge that her difficult upbringing prepared her for the tasks ahead of her when she followed her calling to rescue slaves.

This video is a wonderful presentation of Harriet Ross Tubman’s life. (The production quality of my copy was rather poor; I think it was a copy of other videos.) But this video is still worth getting and watching with the whole family. Slavery is a cruel evil and it is inconceivable how Christians let it go on for so long in our country before finally ending it. This story is indispensable for students of black history.

The performance by Cicely Tyson is wonderful. She should have gotten an Academy Award for a very believable and sympathetic portrayal of Harriet Tubman.

Highlights from Harriet Tubman’s life:

Harriet was able to discern the voice of the Lord speaking to her, warning her and giving her guidance. Because of this she was able to avoid capture many times. She said that she always knew when danger was near and she would know that something bad was going to happen.

Because she was on the run, Harriet slept in wet swamps or in potato fields where she could lie hidden. Besides the obvious risk to her health there was always danger of being spotted. Her faith was portrayed in the movie, but not as much as I would have liked to see. If you get the book, you will see that Harriet always gave the credit to God for her escapes.
All through the War Between the States Harriet rescued slaves and nursed wounded soldiers. She was never paid for her efforts. Harriet remained poor for the rest of her life but she never complained.

Harriet died on March 10, 1913, in Auburn, New York. All through her life she had depended on the Lord and God had never disappointed her trust in Him.

Her life is an example of what can be done, even in the most horrible of circumstances, when a person does not give up or give in. Harriet’s attitude in life made all the difference in the world. Here we sit in our comfort and can’t seem to find time to help those around us. Harriet accomplished much in spite of illness, threats, poverty, and danger all around her. Her childlike faith and determination is an example for us all.

 

 

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We cannot recount the stories of so many courageous black women without telling the story of Rosa McCauley Parks.

 

 

 

 

We have admiration for Bessie Coleman, early pilot, daredevil and stunt flyer (April 4, 2017);

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and leader (post, April 11);

 

 

 

 

 

Mae Jemison – first female black astronaut (April 18);

 

 

 

Katherine Johnson,

 

 

Dorothy Vaughan,

 

 

 

 

and Mary Jackson – achievements in the space industry and instrumental in getting the first Americans in space and on the moon (April 25);

 

 

 

Last week (May 2) Madame C. J. Walker, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

 

 

 

 

Ida B. Wells (post May 13, 2015) did in 1884 what Rosa Parks did in 1955 but on a train. Ida suffered humiliation and abuse as a black woman. A turning point for Ida came one day in 1884 when she was riding the train between Memphis and Nashville. She had bought a first class ticket and expected to use it. Ida got into the first class compartment for whites only. The train officials told her to get in the “Negro”* car instead and she refused to move. The railway men physically removed her. Ida sued the railroad and won a settlement, but the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned it.

Ida B. Wells became an activist seventy years before Rosa Parks. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of a bus where the “colored”* people were supposed to sit. Rosa’s act of defiance was the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in the United States.

Rosa McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913. She met Raymond Parks and they married when she was 19 years old. They lived in Montgomery Alabama.

Raymond was a barber and Rosa worked at a department store. She joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1943. She was the secretary for the organization.

 

During this period of time, segregation laws forced black people to sit at the back of buses. If the seats for white people were full, black people had to give up their seats or get off of the bus. On December 1, 1955 Rosa got on the bus after work as usual and sat in the black section. As the bus began to fill up the bus driver moved the “colored” sign further back and told Rosa to move back. She refused. The bus driver got off and called for the police.

 

Rosa was arrested and charged with breaking Montgomery’s segregation laws. She went to jail until some friends could bail her out.

 

Inspired by her courage and the preaching of Martin Luther King Jr., a bus boycott began. Beginning on Monday, December 5 thousands of people stayed off of the buses. They found other ways to get to work sometimes even walking for miles. The bus companies began to lose a lot of money. After 381 days the city of Montgomery got rid of the busing segregation laws. This was a huge victory for the Civil Rights movement.

But it caused hard times for Rosa and Raymond.
They both lost their jobs. They suffered harassment and threat of bodily harm. Finally, they made the decision to move to Detroit, Michigan.

 

 

 

As the Civil Rights movement grew Rosa continued to work for equality for African Americans. In 1987, Rosa founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. She also received many awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in 1996. In 1999, she received the Congressional Gold Medal.

 

Rosa died at age 92 on October 24, 2005. She was honored greatly by being buried at the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. More than 50,000 people attended her ceremony.

Rosa is one of those people whose lives changed history. She is a hero to all.

*In the 1800’s African Americans were referred to as “Negroes” or Blacks. In the mid-twentieth century the term “colored” was common.

 

I watched a movie produced about Rosa Parks starring Angela Bassett called “The Rosa Parks Story”. It was released in 2002 by Xenon Pictures. It was beautifully done. Rosa was just an ordinary person who took an extraordinary stand against injustice.

The movie tells of her early life, romance, and marriage. The struggles that Rosa went through affected her relationship with Raymond, but they weathered the storms together. I hope you will see the movie. You will be inspired and touched.

 

 

 

 

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Hidden Figures – This video is the remarkable true story of women who crossed racial and gender lines to contribute important work to NASA.

Katherine Goble. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are some of the many forgotten women, especially black women, who achieved amazing things in spite of the prejudice and road blocks thrown at them. All extremely brilliant women, they were the brains behind the launch of John Glenn into space in the 1960’s space race. Their work helped our country to put a man on the moon.

The movie is great and I hope you will see it. It does a pretty good job of telling what the women went through – early childhood and education, what they suffered in order to be accepted in society, and obstacles they encountered at work. The extras in the special Blu-Ray edition relate more of the many achievements of these incredible women. Here are a few highlights (some of the information obtained through my further research):

Katherine Goble Johnson

Katherine was a math prodigy who graduated from West Virginia State College summa cum laude at only age 18. She married and had three children. Sadly, Mr. Goble died of a brain tumor. Later she remarried.

Katherine was an aerospace technologist. She verified the computer’s numbers for John Glenn’s orbit around the earth in 1962, calculated the historic Apollo 11 trip to the moon, and worked on the calculations that helped bring Apollo 13 safely back to earth after it malfunctioned in 1970.

Dorothy Johnson Vaughan

Dorothy received her training at Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1929. She married Howard Vaughan and they had six children. In 1943, Dorothy went to work at Langley as one of the African-American women who were hired due to President Roosevelt’s executive order forbidding racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination in the defense industry as he sought to fill the jobs needed for the war effort. Dorothy was one of the countless female human “computers” who did the math for the space industry.

Later when IBM introduced digital computers to replace the human computers, Dorothy was smart enough to figure a way to keep her job and the jobs of all of the other women. She taught herself and them the Fortran programming Language for the IBM 704 mainframe computers that NASA was installing. (Just look at that room full of machines in the movie and realize that your cell phone has more computing power than all of that!!)

Mary Jackson

Mary graduated from Hampton Institute with bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and physical science. Frustrated and unhappy about the discrimination against her in the work place, Mary almost resigned. However, her supervisor, Kazimierz Czarnecki encouraged her to train as an engineer. Mary had to fight racial prejudice but she successfully finished the course and was promoted to aerospace engineer in 1958 at the age of 37. She wrote many papers and studied data that helped to improve US planes. Mary achieved the most senior rank in the engineering department, but took a demotion to become a human resources administrator until her retirement in 1985. She spent her time helping other women and minorities to advance their careers.

One of the things that is downplayed a bit in the movies is the tremendous religious faith of these three wonderful women. They all just wanted to succeed and were willing to put up with the prejudice against them. In that era, blacks were often just happy to have a job. Their gratitude for what they had should put those of us who have never encountered their obstacles to shame. They are an inspiration!

It is finally time after 55 years that Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary are recognized for their achievements. Though things have changed a lot since the 1940’s and 50’s, there is still a struggle for full racial and gender equality. The stories of these women will go a long way to erase the idea that women, especially black women are inferior.

Here is a trailer to the movie:

http://www.ign.com/videos/2016/08/15/hidden-f

 

 

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OUR PEOPLE: The remarkable story of William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army

William Booth started out as a traveling evangelist. The Booths were very poor and seldom had a home of their own. Then one night as William was coming home from a meeting he passed the doors of a gin palace in East London. This was the part of London where unfortunate people lived – alcoholics, criminals, and prostitutes. William had been preaching in places like West London, where upper class people lived – people who could put enough money in the hat when it was passed to put at least some food on the table at the Booth household.

 

On that fateful night, William thought he heard an urgent voice speaking to him, a voice that would ask a great sacrifice from him and Catherine. The voice asked, “Where can you go and find such heathen as these, and where is there so great a need for your labours?” William knew the answer, “These will be our people.”

Catherine believed that they should answer this call, though she knew that they would never be able to ask the East-Enders for money as they had been able to before from their “respectable” audiences. This was huge step of faith and William and Catherine trusted the Lord to take care of them.

For William and Catherine their work was all about the glory of God and the salvation of souls. And so the little Whitechapel mission would turn into the Christian Mission and eventually into what we know today as the Salvation Army.

The video: OUR PEOPLE: The remarkable story of William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army, tells the story of how William and Catherine Booth took God’s love to the poor. This is a very inspirational documentary.

It is not a live action production. The story is told using over 500 images and interviews with 11 historians and storytellers. The many beautiful pictures of 1800’s London makes the story very interesting. There is beautiful background music of familiar hymns. There are live interviews with two of the Booths’ grandchildren.

I really appreciated the account of the now forgotten social work of William and Catherine Booth. Today ‘human trafficking’ is much talked about. Many do not realize however that girls as young as 13 years of age were being trafficked in Britain in the 1800’s because the age of consent was 13. The Booths and Catherine’s friend Josephine Butler worked for many years to get the age of consent raised even to 16. William and Catherine rescued 100’s of young girls and women out of prostitution. They opened homes for them and helped them get other employment. The ‘Army’ was to make caring for the poor their main ministry even to this day.

There is so much more and I think you will really be blessed when you watch this video. It is easily found on the internet. It also features some bonus material – interviews with historians.

Remember how much good those cheerful bell ringers have done over the last 150 years when you see them next Christmas!!!

 

 

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Nearly 500 years ago, October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. This began the start of the period in Church History known as the Reformation.

In honor of this anniversary, many books on Luther and Calvin and other Reformers are hitting the bookshelves this year. But did you know that these great men had wives? Yes, and both men would thank God publicly for the blessing of their wives. The video I recommend this week will tell the story of one of the humblest, yet loved women of the Reformation.

This month is Women in History month. Many women have come to love the story of Katherine Luther as an example of courage and the meaning of the sacredness of everyday living. I highly recommend a video that documents Katie’s life from early childhood until her untimely death. The video – “The Morning Star of Wittenberg: The Life of Katie Luther” – was produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is distributed by Vision Video. (easily found on the internet)

It was often thought that only vocations in the church were sacred – being a priest or a nun. But Martin and Katie became heroes of everyday people when they showed the holiness and godliness of a beautiful, loving marriage and home life. Today many pastor’s wives model their lives after Katherine von Bora Luther.

 

 

This video features the insights of Dr. Kirsi Stjerna, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and author of “Women and the Reformation”.

 

 

German theologian Dr. Martin Treu, Curator of the Luther Museum in Wittenberg, gives us interesting historical background to the places and events in Katie’s life. The production is beautifully done and the story leaves you wanting to hear more about Katherine. I would suggest Dr. Stjerna’ book.

 

Katherine contributed much to her husband’s ministry.  She certainly helped with his understanding of marriage, love, and family life. By doing this, she contributed much to the spread of the Gospel. She modeled the ideal Christian woman.  By being a Proverbs 31 woman, her husband’s ministry was expanded further. Because she could manage everything on the home front, including the Black Cloister, Luther was able to be away on long journeys, preaching and teaching, knowing that he could come home to a restful, well-ordered, spiritually invigorating home – even one that had some of the best beer around!!

 

Katherine loved Christ. She lived her life to the fullest. She showed us how to live the Christian life in our marriages, families, and communities. It takes a lot of courage to face the daily mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and mending. As we contemplate on the life of Katherine von Bora Luther, I hope it will give us renewed strength to find joy in whatever calling God has given us.

 

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This week I would like to recommend a beautifully done video:

“Francis & Clare of Assisi”

It is an ‘Oriente Occidente Production’ distributed by Vision Video.  You can find it easily on the web. It is 30 minutes long.

This video is not a re-enactment. Instead it relates the story of Francis and Clare of Assisi through narration. The photography is beautiful! The producers take you to the places that were frequented by Clare and Francis. The music is original and fits the medieval times. I especially loved all of the visuals of the medieval art. You will find it warm and inspiring.

 

 

Francis of Assisi turned away a wealthy inheritance and went to live among the poor. He took a vow of poverty. He also strove to reform the church. He and his followers spent their time caring for the poor and sick. He believed that he was following more faithfully in Jesus’ footsteps. A time-honored saying that is attributed to him goes, “Preach the Gospel always, and if you must, use words.” His message of reform spread all across Europe and the East. St. Francis is still honored today for his example of love and care to even the lowest, most forgotten people.

Clare was a beautiful Italian woman born into nobility. Even as a young girl she was known for her piety and her kindness. A story is told that she used to hide the food from her plate so that she could later give it to the poor.

When she was sixteen years old, Clare heard Francis of Assisi preach. She had been promised in marriage to a wealthy man but she refused a life of ease. Instead she put on sackcloth and went out to care for the poor.

Other women began to follow Clare including her mother and sister. Francis of Assisi built a little cloister for them near the Church of St. Damian. In 1215 Clare founded the order of Poor Clares. They devoted themselves to prayer, penance and service. The Poor Clares also took vows of poverty and renounced property ownership.

Clare never left her cloister but did maintain her friendship with Francis of Assisi and many others. In spite of being bedridden for the last twenty-eight years of her life (probably due to severe fasting) her influence was great. She and the group of women serving with her were responsible for extending the reforms started by St. Francis to the church and to society.

The Poor Clares spread beyond Assisi to other towns in Italy, England, France, Germany, and Bohemia. Today the Poor Clares number over 20,000 sisters in 70 countries.

Clare died on August 11, 1253 of natural causes. In 1255 Clare was canonized as St. Clare by Pope Alexander IV.

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“How in the world could I have lived such a helpful life as I have lived had I not been blind?”        Frances Jane “Fanny” Crosby Alstyne

crosbyov2In her life­time, Fanny Crosby was one of the best known Christian women in the United States. Today, most American hymnals contain some of the over 9000 hymns that she wrote. There probably isn’t anyone who goes to church who hasn’t sung one of her hymns.

Frances Jane “Fanny” Crosby was born in 1820 and died in 1915. Though blind ever since a quack doctor ruined her eyesight while treating an eye infection when she was a baby, she never let her blindness make her feel sorry for herself. She turned her blindness into a blessing for millions around the whole world who enjoy her many hymns to this day.

Recently I watched a video production of her story. It is part of a “Testimony” series of videos that fanny-crosby-videoyou can easily find online and is titled, “The Fanny Crosby Story”. The video is only 46 minutes long and could be shown at church or any small group meetings for study and worship. Though it is not the best production of a documentary I have ever seen, it is very inspiring.

 

fanny-and-husbandThe video relates her story from birth until death. People often wonder if a blind person can marry and have children. Well, Fanny married a blind man and they had a child. Tragically, the child died. Still Fanny led a full and happy life. She helped others until the day of her death.

 

 

 

Darlene Neptune, author of “Fanny Crosby Still Lives”, is one of the narrators. Darlene Neptunedarlene-neptune-crosby is considered the world’s leading authority on Fanny Crosby and frequently presents dramatizations of Fanny’s life to audiences around the country. I would highly recommend her book.

fanny-autobiographyI have also read “Fanny J. Crosby: An Autobiography”. If you enjoy watching a movie and reading the book as much as I do, you will be very inspired by both of these books.

 

 

There were a couple of things about this video production that were disappointing. The other narrators were very amateurish in comparison to Darlene Neptune. Also some of the music in the background was from other composers. I would have thought that with over 9000 hymns to choose from the background music would have all been familiar Fanny Crosby hymns.

Nevertheless, at the end of the video, choirs sing one of Fanny Crosby’s most famous and favorite hymns “Blessed Assurance” and you will feel like joining in and praising the Lord!

Once a preacher sympathetically remarked, “I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you.” Fanny replied quickly, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?” “Why?” asked the surprised minister. “Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!”

Some day the silver cord will break,
And I no more as now shall sing.
But, O, the joy when I shall wake
Within the palace of the King!
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story — saved by grace.

Some day my earthly house will fall,
I cannot tell how soon ‘twill be,
But this I know — my All in All
Has now in heaven a place for me,
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story — saved by grace.

 

 

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