Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

“Hildegard: One of the Most Remarkable Women of the Middle Ages”
Distributed by: Vision Video
52 minutes.

Hildegard was an astonishing woman who left us her remarkable legacy in books, drawings, songs, and plays. Her works are beautiful and lasting. They have also stood the test of time because of the spiritual comfort that they still bring to thousands today.

The setting of the video is at the monastery of St. Disibod on the Rhine in central Germany. The events portrayed are those leading up to Hildegard’s examination and trial for heresy in 1148. Hildegard cared for people the way she believed Jesus would care for them. The abbot, concerned only with his legalistic rules, disagreed with the way Hildegard cared for these people and put her and the abbey under interdict – a punishment. They were commanded not to sing. They could not receive the sacraments. Hildegard did not back down. Eventually she lodged a protest with the superior of the Abbot. A trial was held where she was completely vindicated.

Later in a vision Hildegard realizes it is time to move. The video ends with Hildegard and the nuns and their priest making the move to Bingen where she would found a monastery. There, Hildegard continued her labors until her death in 1179 at the age of 82.

This production of Hildegard’s life includes illustrations in a beautiful and stunning fashion that portray what some of Hildegard’s visions may have looked like. They are based on Hildegard’s drawings in the Scivia. A group of nuns (female actors with beautiful voices?) perform some of Hildegard’s music. You will be uplifted as you hear the praises to God sung by these women.

 

 

Some background before you watch the video:

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) is best known as a twelfth-century abbess with an extraordinary mind and she is known for her visions. Whatever one thinks about the subject of visions and dreams, certainly Hildegard was a wise, talented, intelligent, dedicated, and devout Christian woman who rose above her circumstances to serve God in extraordinary ways. She has been authenticated by the pope in her day (Eugene III) and recently by Pope Benedict.

Hildegard became a nun while just a young girl. We do not know much about her next few years, except that she must have been a good assistant to the mother of the abbey who was also her aunt, Jutta. When her aunt died in 1136, Hildegard was chosen to be the abbess in her place. Hildegard was thirty-eight years old.

As the mother of the abbey Hildegard sought to lead a life of holiness and to encourage the other nuns to do likewise. Of major importance to her was caring for the poor as Jesus did. Though she tried to stay within the church’s rules sometimes she went her own way out of compassion. In the video you will see two incidents that were typical of how Hildegard cared for the humans under her protection – a young persecuted girl that she rescued, and a dying soldier from the Crusades. The abbot wanted to just toss these people out as heretics, but Hildegard showed them the love of Jesus.

Later Hildegard moved to a place where she could run the abbey without interference from less than spiritual men who only loved control. She personally oversaw the construction of the new convent at Rupertsberg, near Bingen, Germany. They moved into the new convent in 1150, and she became known as Hildegard of Bingen.

One of her many talents was writing. Around 1141, she had begun to write a book, Scivias, (or Sciens Vias, “Know the Way”), which eventually took her ten years to complete. This book included 26 drawings of things that she had seen in her visions.

You will see some of these drawings and visions illustrated in the video. She claimed that these visions helped her to understand the Old and New Testaments. Men and women of her day, including the well-known Bernard of Clairvaux, endorsed her visions. Many believed that she could understand the past, present, and future. She astonished people by claiming things which later came true.

Here in her own words is a description of one of her visions:

It happened in the year 1141 of the Incarnation of God’s Son Jesus Christ, when I was forty-two years and seven months old, that the heavens were opened and a fiery light of great brilliance came and suffused my whole brain and set my whole heart and breast afire like a flame – yet not burning but warming, as the sun warms an object on which it sheds its rays. And suddenly I came to understand the meaning of the book of Psalms, the Gospel, and the other canonical books of both the Old and New Testaments — … in a marvelous way, I had sensed the power and mystery of secret, wonderful visions in myself from girlhood, from the age of five, even to the present time.”   

After Scivias, Hildegard wrote other books, including the Book of Life’s Merits, and the Book of the Divine Works. She wrote these in Latin, the language of educated men, even though she had not been formally trained in it.

Many people sought Hildegard’s wisdom. Archbishop Philip of Cologne was repeating what many Christians thought when he said that Hildegard had divine gifts including the gift of prophecy.

During her lifetime, Hildegard composed over 70 vocal works. In the 1980’s they were rediscovered and many have now been recorded. She had composed the music and the lyrics. Her works show her love and her longing for Christ.

When she was about sixty years old, retirement age for many people today, Hildegard undertook several preaching tours. As she traveled around, she even preached to men, a fact which shows how much respect she had gained by this time. Her sermons sound much like many we hear today; she taught on the corruption of the Church and how it needed cleansing. She gave a tongue lashing to those who were “lukewarm and sluggish” in living the Christian life. She berated those who were slow in justice for the poor.

Hildegard died at age eighty-two on September 17, 1179. With her lifelong learning and perseverance, she overcame many obstacles for women in her day. She had seized the opportunities placed before her and worked to her limits. She became one of the most influential women of the Middle Ages and is still loved today.

 

Read Full Post »

“Journey Into the Unknown” Hanneke van Dam
Hanneke van Dam (with others) for narration.
Eric Velu is the director
This video was released on April 19, 2007 and is 52 minutes long.
Available at Amazon or Vision Video.

 

Not very many people would be willing to give up everything in their lives – a good living, home, family, modern comforts, and freedom to choose where you will go and what will you do – in order to serve others.

The video I would like to recommend this week is a documentation of the life of one woman who left her comfortable life behind to serve Jesus by caring for some of the neediest people on earth.

Hanneke van Dam answered God’s call on her life to go to Mongolia, one of the coldest and most desolate places in the world. 80 to 90 percent of the problems there are caused by alcohol. This results in poverty, broken families and violent behavior.

In 1995 Hanneke was working as a child psychologist at the courthouse in Amsterdam when she attended a conference where Jackie Pullinger was speaking. (see my post on this blog April, 2015, for more information on Jackie Pullinger, a Christian missionary in Hong Kong who has helped thousands of drug addicts to recover.) Hanneke was moved to do something for people who were living in poverty.

The morning after hearing Jackie speak Hanneke was cleaning her mother’s house. Hanneke was praying that God would direct her life. She wanted to help others as Jackie was doing. Hanneke describes in the interview in this video that she heard the voice of God clearly say “Mongolia”. Hanneke did not even know where Mongolia was on the map when God called her to go there.

Hanneke had been working in the capital city of Ulan Bator for 5 years before this documentary was made. In the video, viewers will see a typical rescue of a drunk on the street. With the temperature of 30 degrees below zero, the man would have died within a few hours if left alone there. Hanneke sees the people as broken human beings whose lives can be mended with the good news of the Gospel. She worked tirelessly and unselfishly to help those who seemed without hope. Seeing how devoted she was to people, the mission asked Hanneke to go to remote areas and she accepted the direction as a call from God.

Work in the villages was difficult. Some of the really great joys were telling the Gospel to people who had never heard of Jesus. Seeing the light in their eyes motivated Hanneke to continue to live in a remote place. On the other hand, there were many problems for the new believers. There was more work than one woman could do. Hanneke trained some young female believers to help her.

Just as Hanneke was motivated by Jackie Pullinger to go and take the Gospel of healing to a poor nation, my prayer is that Hanneke’s story will move Christians to go and serve Christ in Mongolia or any other country where the needs are great.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Corrie Ten Boom: A Faith Undefeated

(Running time – 55 minutes)

(Produced by Christian History Institute; distributed by Vision Video)

 

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Corrie ten Boom was born and raised in Holland. She was a middle-aged woman when World War II started. The Germans quickly took control of Holland.

The Nazis were persecuting the Jews wherever they had control and this included Holland. Corrie’s family decided to help the Jews though it was against the law. They put their lives at risk for doing this. I would recommend either the book The Hiding Place (published 1971) or the movie of the same name (released 1975) for you to get the whole remarkable story of the courage of Corrie ten Boom and her family.

The ten Boom’s got involved with the Dutch underground to help people escape from the Nazi’s. They built a secret room in their house – The Hiding Place – and hid Jews there when the Nazi’s came around for a search. The ten Boom’s risked their lives to save as many people as possible.

One day in 1944 they were betrayed. For their “crimes” Corrie and Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Their father Casper was ill and he died after only a few days in prison.

Corrie miraculously hid her little bible from the cruel camp guards. She and Betsie were able to lead a Bible study in the freezing cold, flea infested barracks. Betsie died while in the prison but not before giving Corrie an amazing prophecy. Betsie told Corrie that they would be free before the New Year. She also told Corrie, “We shall go everywhere telling people that there is no place on earth so dark that God’s love cannot shine into it. They will believe us, because we have been here in Ravensbruck.”

Betsie was ‘freed’ from her pain and suffering to go to be with Jesus late in December, 1944. Corrie was miraculously freed on December 31, 1944.

Corrie spent the rest of her life traveling around the world preaching about God’s forgiveness and the need for reconciliation. She also built homes for concentration camp survivors. She built one at Bloemendaal, turning Betsie’s dream into a reality.

Corrie had a chance to put her own principles of forgiveness and reconciliation into action when she came face to face with one of her former guards from Ravensbruck.

In 1947, Corrie had been speaking at a church when a man came up to her to tell her that he had accepted Christ as his savior. He thanked Corrie for her message and said that he was grateful that his sins had been forgiven. He now extended his hand to Corrie and asked her for her forgiveness.

This man had been one of the especially wicked guards. Corrie and Betsie had been ordered to strip naked to be inspected by this man. There was no need for this practice other than to humiliate the women. Now as Corrie faced this man memories of that humiliation came back. Visions of the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of women’s clothes on the floor, and the pain on her gentle sister’s face came to her mind. Corrie was boiling inside.

Corrie stiffened her back. When the man extended his hand she kept her own hand at her side. How could she forgive this man after all of the cruel things he had done? But she prayed, “Lord Jesus, forgive me and help me to forgive him.” Corrie tried to smile. She struggled to raise her hand but found it impossible. She prayed again for Jesus to help her. She remembered that Christ had died for this man too. How could she ask for more?

Finally, she took his hand and later recounted, ” …the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

“I forgive you with all my heart,” she said to the man and she meant it.

Corrie moved to America in 1977. In 1978 she was paralyzed by a stroke. Corrie went to be with the Lord on April 15, 1983 on her 91st birthday. Truly Corrie ten Boom’s story is a wonderful example of Christian faith and forgiveness.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

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

 

 

Read Full Post »

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!!!

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »