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Showing posts from December, 2013

Counting Down: The Best of 2013

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In looking back on 2013, I wanted to add a slight twist to the typical “Top Ten” idea. What I’ll do this time around is count out my ten favorite happenings—not necessarily blog posts—at Happier Far, beginning with number 10 and working my way up to the biggest highlight of the year. To a limited degree, the order of these items is influenced on reader popularity, but I’ve also arbitrarily bumped a few of them up or down as seemed best to me.

10. Paradise Lost. To be honest, this is on the list simply because I love the book so much. Frankly, I was surprised (and somewhat disappointed) by how little interest the Paradise Lost series initially generated here on the blog, although the last couple entries have enjoyed a larger readership. We’ve made it through eight of the twelve books in the poem, so we’ll finish things up in 2014. And since I’m a glutton for punishment, I may eventually delve into the four books of Paradise Regained sometime in the future. (To those wondering if that…

The Nativity: As Told by Children

You know you’re sick when you look at your adorable baby girl and you have no desire to hold her. That’s how my wife and I felt for part of last week. In God’s kindness, Shannon and I weren’t hit with the worst of our sicknesses concurrently; one was always able to take care of Elanor while the other remained in bed. Still, I wasn’t exactly in a condition to do a lot of writing.

That being the case, and since this is Christmas Eve, I won’t take much of your time. But speaking of adorable children, I thought it’d be fun to share a video project I helped work on a few years ago. We interviewed several young children about the Christmas story, then edited the resulting clips together to provide something of a “script” for other children to act out. What resulted was a nice blend of cuteness and humor. I hope you enjoy the video.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (2013) – Film Review

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Having loved the first Hobbit movie, and knowing that The Desolation of Smaug would include scenes from my favorite parts of the book, I entered the theater with great expectations. To put it bluntly, I left the theater with great disappointments. In fact, even before the end credits rolled, I was morosely nursing the wounds—the desolation, so to speak—that Peter Jackson had inflicted upon me.

I wish I could say watching the movie was only as bad as eating lembas bread. Unfortunately, it was more distasteful than that.* In the review below, I will refer to the movie as Desolation—and not just because it’s good shorthand. As a reminder, I rate my movies based on three criteria: morally objectionable content (C), artistic merit (A), and my personal opinions (P).
CONTENT (C): 7 out of 10 Desolation has the dishonorable privilege of being the first Middle Earth movie with a couple lines of sexual innuendo between a male and female character. It’s sad when Tolkien’s source material is soi…

One Thing About Christianity that Still Bothers Me

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I’m not quite sure what it was that teed me off initially. Our Sunday morning started innocently enough: we woke up and began the process of getting ready for church—something that involves more gymnastics these days, now that we have a newborn daughter. (I’ve never had to deal with projectile poop before.)

I was finishing changing my daughter’s diaper when she spat up, ruining the outfit I had just wrestled her back into. Seeds of impatience sprouted out of my mouth: “Your timing sucks,” I told my uncomprehending daughter. After switching out her clothes, I brought her out of the room, only to encounter our cat in front of me, seemingly determined to get tangled up in my legs as I walked. Juggling a baby and dribbling a cat aren’t activities you want to combine.
“You’re really stupid, you know that?” I barked at the cat. (Huh. Pun not intended.) In response, my wife Shannon put out her arms and asked for the baby, advising me to take my shower so I could be alone for a while.
Being al…

FROZEN (2013) – Film Review

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In the kingdom of Arendelle, sisters Anna and Elsa grow up separated by a tragic case of magic. Elsa’s ability to turn her surroundings into ice—a power made more dangerous by its connection to her emotional state—makes her a constant threat to her sister, and to the future of their kingdom.

For years, Elsa’s powers are kept secret, even from Anna. The secret makes an unwelcome public appearance when Anna finally confronts Elsa over her lifetime of ostracism. Soon, the entire land is covered in ice. Elsa runs away, and it’s up to Anna to bring her back and rescue Arendelle from a perpetual state of “always winter, never Christmas” (to steal a quote from another fantasy story).
CONTENT (C): 8 out of 10 The film has a few mild innuendos—two visual and one verbal. All or most of these pass by without notice. (Until I double-checked the content, I had forgotten about one instance and had missed another one entirely.) There are a couple offhand references to bodily functions, but nothing…