Monday, February 27, 2017

I am Number Four

I am Number Four, Pittacus Lore (cont.)

I reviewed the first three books of the I am Number Four series eighteen months ago.  At that point, I had decided to wait until the series was complete as every book finished on a cliff hanger and each subsequent one followed immediately after in the time-frame.   Mr 13.5 was given the series for Christmas so he, Husband and I then worked our way through them all.

All of us concluded that the series started better than it finished.  In fact the writing seemed to change.  Mr 13’s research suggests that three authors were actually writing under the one pseudonym.  This makes some sense as the final three books were fast, action packed events with little subtlety or character depth in the way that #1 was.    The later books seemed like Matthew Reilly for teens, especially as some swearing crept into the final three books, often in the mouths of the female characters.   In my opinion, swearing is always a sign of lazy writing (and lazy talking), we all found it disappointing and unnecessary. 

Overall, the story was engaging and attention grabbing.   All three of us read #1-7 straight through without stopping.   In the end, we all felt they were fine, but could have been better.    Perhaps that was why I so enjoyed the Robin Hobb series that I read immediately after – they were more refreshing, complex, adult and yet still ‘clean’ – much better!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dolphin Tale 2

Following on from our enjoyment of Dolphin Tale, we were all very keen to see the sequel.   Just like the original, this is a true story of the team at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and their work to rescue, rehab and release marine animals.   This story continues the tale of Winter, who loses her dolphin companion.  As legislation requires all dolphins in captivity to be paired with another, there is a real threat that Winter may have to leave the Aquarium and be located elsewhere. 

So, Clearwater need to find another dolphin to pair with Winter.   Yet for any dolphin they rescue and rehabilitate, the goal is always to release them back to the wild, rather than keep them.   Is time running out for Winter?   When little dolphin Hope is found, could she be the one they have been looking for? 

With the same cast returning and the film shot at the Aquarium itself, you really feel like you are watching the true events as they happened.   When they show the real footage during the credits, you do see many of the same events with the actual Aquarium staff. 

Again, this is a great movie for kids and adults alike.  Anyone who loves animals will be immediately taken in, but really this is a crowd pleaser for everyone – you’d have to be pretty grumpy not to enjoy these movies!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Good & Angry

Good & Angry, David Powlison                                 

I was keen to read this as Powlison is the lecturer who ran the CCEF course I did last year. This book was as good as that course - in fact, it was the essence of the course with application to anger. Much of the material I had already covered in the lectures or readings, which is a great recommendation, because they were excellent. I was thrilled when provided with a pdf copy of this by New Growth Press, because I have high expectations of anything written by CCEF faculty, and have not yet been disappointed.

Powlison states his goal early– to enable us to more fruitfully and honestly deal with our anger. He does not define anger as simply as you might think.   It does include the white-hot rage and seething that some have. It also includes long term bitterness and complaint, as well as general grumbling. He points that some things should anger us (ie injustice) but don’t. He also includes the possibility of truly righteous anger – anger that is the right response to a wrong.

Breaking this book down into four sections makes the material more manageable and logical.   He also gives some excellent tips on how to read the book. This is so rarely done in books it’s worth mentioning – he talks about underlining key sections, and writing out the questions raised for you as you go along.

Section 1 deals with our experience of anger, including some good observations on the real power of anger.  One chapter makes the point more clearly than ever: Chapter heading: Do you have a problem with anger? Rest of the chapter is one word: Yes. 

Section 2 addresses what anger is. He deals with the key idea of anger being “I’m against that”, “That matters and it’s not right”. He explains what happens to the whole person during anger – the body, mind, actions and motives. He addresses that we have a capacity for just anger and a bent to bad area (thanks to creation and the fall).
“Your anger is Godlike to the degree you treasure justice and fairness and are alert to betrayal and falsehood.  You anger is devil-like to the degree you play god and are petty, merciless, whiny, argumentative, willful, and unfair.” (p65-66)
Two chapters work through the idea of good anger being the “constructive displeasure of mercy” – that is, having patience, forgiveness, charity and constructive conflict. And he points us to God, who can have both anger and love consistent with each other, whereas our anger and love rarely are consistent.

Section 3 looks at how to change by showing us how we play God with our anger and how God still gives more grace to help us. He introduces 8 questions which help begin to tease out our anger, analysing motives and consequences. This leads to thinking about how God speaks to that situation, and how that changes your motives and consequences into more positive fruit. Having done this exercise with the course I did, I can speak from experience how helpful it can be when applied to an area of personal sin.

Section 4 tackles the hard cases, the major sins which lead us to say “I’ll never get over it”; the everyday angers which we pretend aren’t even there but come to define us; anger at ourselves; and anger at God.

I doubt there is anyone who can honestly say they don’t have a problem with anger in some format.  Powlison seriously claims there is no-one whom this doesn’t touch. So, this book is highly recommended reading for all.