Which Is the Better Story @Image Journal’s Good Letters blog

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox Studios.

“There’s a scene early in Ang Lee’s majestic Life of Pi film in which the main character watches everything he loves die. Pi is floating in a vast, murky sea as the ship carrying his family and their zoo animals recedes into the distance and sinks. His arms are stretched out wide and his whole body seems to reach for them as they slip away.

This is the moment when I forgot I was wearing 3-D glasses and felt as if I was in the water with Pi, losing everything I love. I’m not sure I would have reacted as viscerally as I did to the scene if it had not been produced in 3-D. As it was, I sat in my seat and wept.”

Read my whole [spoiler alert!] review at Good Letters. It’s my first appearance at the Image blog and I’m honored to see my byline there.

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Recapturing Innocence With Ang Lee @TheHighCalling

NYC Life of Pi Press Junket

Director Ang Lee in New York City, courtesy Explorations Media, L.L.C.

The sound of a baby’s laughter. A six year old’s wide-eyed wonder on Christmas morning. The moment you first believed. Who doesn’t want to relive innocence like that?
For Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee, recapturing innocence in life, in filmmaking, in the cinematic experience is at the heart of his film adaptation of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, Life of Pi. Speaking to a group of journalists in New York City last month, Lee said the film is about what happens to a young boy’s innocence after the ship carrying his zoo-keeping family sinks and he’s set adrift on a lifeboat with a dangerous tiger.

The ocean becomes like a desert, Lee said. “It’s a test of his faith, his strength.” …

Read the whole thing at The High Calling.

When Storms Come @Faith&Leadership

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Bay Head, South Pt. Beach

Bayhead, New Jersey

Like a thrill ride gone terribly wrong, Hurricane Sandy barreled through my beloved Jersey Shore last month. Except during college and a six-year sojourn in California, this area has always been home, the place where I grew up and where I have lived for most of my life.

When the storm was over, the terrain upon which my memories live had been torn asunder. Friends have asked how I’m dealing with the destruction. My home wasn’t damaged, but I have been through so many deadly storms in the last decade that they’ve been worried for me.

The loss of wealth, health, ministry, community and, most impossibly, the loss of my firstborn child to suicide have left me vulnerable, they think.

But I’ve become adept at responding effectively and efficiently to trauma. So much so that I sometimes think I should work in disaster response. …

Read the rest of this gratitude reflection at Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership site. It’s my first article there and I’m honored to see my byline at the website of such an esteemed institution.

Common Grace Flowing at the Jersey Shore @UrbanFaith

Hurricane Sandy view from Mantoloking Rd. Brick, 10/31

“Hurricane Sandy did a whole lot of mischief here at the Jersey Shore. So much so that Halloween has been canceled* by order of the governor. I doubt anyone cares. We’re too busy looking for power, gasoline, and cell service to celebrate anything more than our safety and that of our loved ones.

Any Jersey Shore native worth his or her salt has lived through a few hurricanes and many a nor’easter. Few of us has seen anything like this. Where I live two miles inland fromMantoloking, New Jersey, we lost power and saw a lot of downed trees. A mile east and all the way to the bay, the water was four feet deep yesterday. The main road is clear today, but the smell of diesel fuel is strong closer to the bay that separates us from the barrier island. Boats that were knocked off their boatyard perches and found their way into the street and onto people’s porches.”

Read the rest at UrbanFaith, where I am now an editor-at-large rather than news and religion editor.

Week One With Hurricane Sandy @NJShorePatch

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath from Gale Rd. Brick, NJ

“It’s been a week since Hurricane Sandy hit and like many others, we still have no electricity at my house off Mantoloking Road. Our neighborhood is humming with the sound of generators, but I’ve been worried about the silent households ever since the temperatures dropped.

In the past week, I (like you) have seen a lot, starting with a house strewn in the middle of Gale Road. A homeowner there said it washed across the bay and through the marsh onto his low lying street—a street that still reeked of diesel fuel on Thursday. Homeowners were shoveling thick, smelly muck from their driveways like it was snow that day. They thanked me for stopping and listening, even though that’s all I did.”

Read the rest at Brick Patch, where I’ve resumed my weekly column to write about Hurricane Sandy recovery.