Review: The Children Act (2017)

Based on the eponymous novel by Ian McEwan. 

As the High Court Children’s Judge, Justice Maye (Emma Thompson) must decide whether to give a Jehovah ’s Witness boy a blood transfusion against his wishes.

I entered the cinema expecting a clear-cut film condemning religion and extolling the power of ‘free choice.’ Instead I watched a gripping drama filled with flawed characters grappling with what it looks like to love their neighbour.

After visiting the precocious teen in hospital, Justice Maye rules according to the court precedent (“life over dignity”) and chooses to save his physical body, sparing little thought for his soul.

Yet when the disillusioned young man adopts her as his spiritual mentor and her own marriage begins to crumble, Justice May must confront questions such as:

How far should you be expected to go to save a child who is not your own?

Is it always right to separate your professional and personal lives?

What does it take to save a marriage when both individuals have committed betrayal?

This film explores the beauty of life, but also asks: what does it take to sustain it? Are we as Christians willing to give it?

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Sherlock Holmes vs. Shakespeare

“Here, though the world explode, these two survive.”

(Vincent Starlett, “221B”)

Sherlock Holmes vs. Shakespeare: which will last the ages?

If you’re at all familiar with the ‘English speak’ of High school English classes, you’ll know that a common phrase is “enduring appeal”. Shakespeare always has it. It grants the text an ability to transcend time and culture. It means that a story can still entertain an audience and challenge critics hundreds of years after it was first written.

Such is the case with Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet – they were enjoyed, are being enjoyed, and doubtless with continue to be enjoyed in the future.

I’d like to argue that the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories have this sort of enduring appeal. No other literary character has been so consistently appropriated, updated and represented. The collection of tales reluctantly written by a struggling medical doctor have spawned numerous books, poems, films and screen-plays – not to mention museums, monuments and societies.

The brilliant but eccentric detective and his humble but loyal biographer have permeated their way into popular culture, and demonstrate no sign of leaving anytime soon.

Why? What is it about this cannon of works that has generated such enduring appeal?

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I want a funeral like hers…

I was too young to remember the funerals of my biological Omas, but today I attended the funeral of my Oma-Friend (as she would sign off her letters), and I want to talk about it.

Not because I enjoy morbid topics, or because her life changed the world (although it did change mine, and for the better), or even because I am one of the few people who get the precious chance of a third Oma, but because I want a funeral like hers.

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The Problem with Redeeming Severus Snape

I love amateur literary analysis. Love reading it, love writing it. Here’s some pondering on a very well known character of an extraordinarily well known series.

Severus Snape is a complicated character

Severus Snape, of Harry Potter fame, has gained many followers.

I understand why.

He’s a complicated character and there’s much to explore and much subtext to read. He joined the Dark side in his youth, returned to the Light after he realised the love of his life (married to someone else) was in danger. After her death he swore to protect her only son, who was the spitting image of his childhood nemesis. He worked as a double, triple agent, ultimately on the Light side, yet spending much of his time working with the Dark. He was anti-social, unpleasant and held tightly to the grudges of his youth, killed the ‘greatest wizard of all time’ and the only one who knew his secret, yet died himself before he could see his side win.

He was the only character who didn’t receive his just deserts. He didn’t receive acknowledgement for the work he did. Many characters died, but he was the only one who perished without everyone knowing who and what he died for.

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The Lays of Ancient Rome

I’ve always been interested in how literature reflects and affects society. Perhaps that’s why I am fascinated by the Lays of Ancient Rome. On the other hand, it could just be because they sound cool.

The Lays are a collection of poems by Thomas Babington Macaulay. They are Roman ballads, set in Ancient Rome about Roman heroes, yet were written in 1842 by a Victorian gentleman.

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I idolize Bravery – a realisation and defence

“Bravery is by far the kindest word for stupidity.” (Sherlock BBC)

I am attracted to bravery

I have often wondered what it is that causes me to dub some fictional characters as ‘my favourite’ even if I do not necessarily admire their inherent goodness.

Recently I have come to a conclusion, which is to be my working hypothesis until disproven: I admire brave characters.

I have long known that bravery is one of the traits I admire the most. It is the reason I feel drawn to the “Invictus” poem even though I disagree with its theology.

It’s the reason I was obsessed with the television series Merlin as a teenager even as I rolled my eyes at the suspension of disbelief required, read the ‘Pagan’ chronicles under my bedsheets even though I flinched at the anti-Christian elements, and the reason I find myself at the age of 23 coupling drawings of Severus Snape with suitable quotes to post on DeviantArt.

I am invariably attracted to bravery.

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A Year in Reading 2017

Following the tradition, I thought I’d share the books I enjoyed reading this year – my tiny contribution to the online world of books and reading, of which I am mostly a silent consumer (but pay my dues once a year in the form of a blog post!)

Books read 2017: 67 (my goal was 57, so this was exciting)

Ratio:

48 Fiction/18 Non-fiction

21 audio books/38 paper print/8 kindle digital

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2017 taught me that timing is not always my strong point...

2017 taught me that my timing is not always right (and that’s okay)

They say you never stop learning. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what you’re learning while you’re learning it! Often I come away from a season in my life with the sense that I’ve just learned something. That my character has been shaped, that my knowledge has grown… but am unable to put into words exactly what.

That’s why I Iove reflection. Over the last few months there’s been an increasing pressure on my soul because I learnt something in 2017 that is important, and I don’t want it to dissipate as the calendar flips over. Instead I want to cradle this truth close  as I march out into 2018. So here’s my attempt to put it down in letters on a white screen, so that the lesson might be worth the learning.

What 2017 taught me

2017 was full of projects

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5 Ways I prepared to travel as a Christian

I recently went on a short holiday overseas with a few friends. It was relaxing, eventful, and a good break, plus a chance to step back a bit from the everyday and gain a wider perspective.

I really think however, that there is a way to holiday with God, and a way to holiday without Him. Life was created to be lived in step with our Creator. I fail at this all the time in day to day life, and because holidays present a unique mixture of challenges, it was something I wanted to think about beforehand.

This is neither a perfect nor an exhaustive list… but it was helpful for me, so perhaps it might be helpful for you.

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Do you laugh at misfortune?

“Just laugh or you’ll go mad.”

It’s advice I hear in hospital corridors and grocery stores. In this era of ‘political correctness’ there are a surprising number of opportunities to snigger at the antics of dementia patients, our children’s disobedience, or someone else’s misfortune. So where do we draw the line?

I recently posted over at Paradigm Shift, so head on over to continue reading this post!