Monday, August 02, 2021

2020 Movies - Ranked

2020 was a strange year for all of us with the global pandemic and all... and that impacted everything of course, including movies and television production. So these are the only movies I've seen that were released in 2020.

Favorite Movies of 2020 (definitely want to re-watch)
1. Hamilton
2. Tenet
3. The Prom
4. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
5. Wonder Woman 1984
6. Soul

Good Movies of 2020 (would probably re-watch):
7. Disclosure
8. Enola Holmes
9. Becoming
10. Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square
11. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Decent Movies of 2020 (less likely to re-watch):
12. The Half of It
13. Ammonite
14. The Way Back
15. Mulan

Meh (No desire to re-watch):
16. The Social Dilemma
17. The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Book Review: YOU CAN TALK TO GOD LIKE THAT by Abby Norman

You Can Talk to God Like That: The Surprising Power of Lament to Save Your Faith
by Abby Norman
200 pages
Published May 18th, 2021 by Broadleaf Books 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Abby Norman is a pastor and a gifted writer and it shows. The first thing that jumped off the page as I started reading this book was Abby’s pastoral tone. She is not preaching at you about lament. She is coming alongside you to encourage you as she talks about how lament can draw us in closer to God.

Abby tweeted in December of 2020 that she didn't mean to write an increasingly relevant book, but she did! The past year and a half of dealing with the pandemic and the chaotic political nonsense, along with the ongoing violence against Black people by police officers, mass shootings… there is no shortage of things to lament. 

Abby is a great writer and I am sure she is a great pastor. Abby and I have been internet friends for longer than I can remember now, and I even got to meet her in person at Evolving Faith in 2018. She has been such an encouragement to me in ways big and small over the years. And I am so thankful she wrote this book! I think it could encourage a lot of people. I know it encouraged me. I ended up reading it in one sitting but I definitely want to go back through it and take my time with it.

One particularly moving part was when Abby talked about how we can hold hope for each other, and sometimes we need that because hope is too heavy for us sometimes.

My favorite part (if I have to choose just one thing) is the prayers Abby prays for her readers at the end of each chapter and at the end of the book. These prayers wash over me like the ones Sarah Bessey often prays for her readers and listeners. This is the prayer at the end of chapter 1:
“I pray that you are comforted. May the outpouring of your grief be accompanied by the outpouring of God’s love. May you work through the practice with patience and mercy for yourself and your circumstances. May your wounds be covered in balm. May you be close to God.”
And this one at the end of chapter 3:
“I know this can be scary. Not all of us have had a lot of practice talking back to God. As you embark on this exercise I pray that you land in the arms of a God who is good and holy and big enough to handle every single bit of your sorrow and rage. I pray that you would not be afraid of the strength of your own sorrows. I pray that you would land in strong arms.”
And also this one at the end of chapter 5:
“It is not lost on me that continually I am asking you to do hard things. This may be the hardest thing of all. Being wrong can be such a gift to us if only we embrace it. I pray that you will be so grounded in your belovedness that you will be open to the Holy Spirit changing your mind. I pray that you will be open to a bigger God, a bigger grace, a bigger community. May you experience your belovedness together.”
Then, at the very end of the book, she brought tears to my eyes as she prayed for us, her readers, in a closing benediction: 

“Imagine me in my collar and my bright-red lipstick, my eyes shut tight behind my cat-eye glasses and one hand held in the air, hovering over your head, as I cry, 

May you go into the world trusting the God who sees you just as Haggai trusted the God who saw her. May you feel known and validated in your deepest struggles and greatest heartaches. May you always know that you are not alone, that God is with you, that God sees you. 

May you go into the world with the willingness of Ruth, to lament with others, to see their pain, to identify with them. May your heart break for those who are not like you, for those who have been forgotten by the powers and principalities of this world. May your presence remind them that Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. May you cry hot tears over other people’s suffering. May you be filled with a compassion that will draw you closer to God. 

May you go into the world crying out, weeping like the Holy Mother herself, broken at the sight of her child being broken by the empire. May you weep and gnash your teeth and make a holy scene. May you refuse to get up out of the streets until the ways of the world are changed, until the most vulnerable among us are included, until the church means it when they say, “All are welcome, all are beloved by God.” 

May you go into this world lamenting like Mary Magdalene in the garden, who had been just hoping to bury her beloved rabbi. May Jesus meet you in the places of your deepest grief and invite you into a new and holy way of being, for the kingdom of God is coming, and the kingdom of God is here. Amen.”

What are you waiting for? Go get her book and read it! :-) 

You Can Talk to God Like That Affiliate Purchase Links: (supports local bookstores)

Abby Norman is a writer, blogger, speaker, and licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church. Her writing has been featured in Huffington Post, SheLoves Magazine, and The Mudroom. Abby lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her college sweetheart, two daughters, and a very bad dog.

Follow Abby on Twitter: @abbynormansays

I am an affiliate of and Amazon and I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

How to Earn Badges in Audible's Mobile Apps (2021 Update)

I originally published this post in June of 2015 and it has the most hits of any of my posts at 15,411 as of today (5/20/2021). Since Audible just updated the badges for the first time since then, I thought I should update this post.

I still do most of my audio-book listening using Audible, specifically, the Audible app on my iPhone. One of the extra features of the app is that you can earn badges as you listen to your books. There are now 18 different badges you can earn. From what I understand, Android devices and Kindle Fire devices utilize the same feature.

The badges you earn on one device from an Audible app syncs between devices (like when I listen from my iPad at night vs. my iPhone in the car).

There are three different levels of badges you can obtain: silver, gold, and platinum.

Mount Everest:
Complete an Audible book that is longer than 24 hours long. (Infinite Jest did the trick for me!)

Look at your profile page and badge page and switch back (in and out) over 50 times to obtain the Watchtower badge.

Read in at least 2 books in the course of any consecutive 7 day period.

Weekend Warrior:
Listen to an audible book for at least a total of 10 hours on a weekend.

Night Owl:
Listen to any selection of books for a course of at least 8 hours on any given night.

Repeat Listener:
Listen to the same book 3 or more times in a given day or week.

Daily Dipper:
Listen to books on any 7 consecutive days.

High Noon:
Read a book for at least 3 hours during a lunchtime stretch between 11am and 3pm.

The Closer:
Complete an entire book in one session.

Listen to an Audible book for at least 2 consecutive hours in a day.

Listen to 3 book titles in one day.

The Stack:
Have at least 50 Audible audiobooks in your library.

Social Butterfly:
Share your badge progress 5 times on Twitter and Facebook.

Place 10 bookmarks in a single book.

Dabbler (the only one I don't have yet):
Hey! They finally fixed this and now it shows that I have this badge too! (as of 5/20/2021)

They've also added 3 badges:

You get this badge for earning badges... you get the gold ring for having earned 10 badges.

"If you like to try before you buy, then this badge will soon apply." (I don't have this one yet so I don't know how many books you have to try before you buy or if it gives you credit for listening to the free sample of a book if you don't end up buying the book.)

"To your Echo utter 'Alexa, read my book', and you'll get a badge for the effort it took."
This one annoys me because I don't own an Amazon Echo and I don't want or need an Echo device. But I get it. They want to promote their product.

Try Audible Plus

Friday, March 12, 2021

Book Review: The Disabled God - Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability by Nancy L. Eiesland

The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability 
by Nancy L. Eiesland, 140 pages

Finished reading on 3/10/2021 for my seminary class on political and liberation theologies. What follows is an edited version of my summary of the book I wrote for an assignment.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think pretty much everyone should read this: pastors, leaders of all kinds, and really just, everyone.

This book was published in 1994 but it started out as Nancy Eiesland’s Master’s thesis at Candler School of Theology. It seems significant that The Americans with Disabilities Act was just passed in 1990. She also writes out of her own experience of lifelong disability.

Eiesland argues that disabled people are a marginalized, minority group that society and churches have a responsibility to include and not discriminate against. The expectation should not be put on the disabled person to adjust and just have to figure it out for themselves as an individual. Disabled people do not need to be “fixed” and that mentality has been very damaging. Sadly, churches in the United States fought to be excluded from the requirements of The Americans with Disabilities Act so they would not have to bring their buildings up to the new accessibility requirements.

Chapter Three: The Body Politics “offers a social framework for reconceiving disability, incorporating the history of the civil rights struggle.” She examines a shift in the sociology of disability where the person with disabilities becomes the subject instead of the object of inquiry which led to “the emergence of the disability rights movement and continues to offer a theoretical construct for empowerment and liberation” for disabled people.

Chapter Four: Carnal Sins - Disability has never been religiously or theologically neutral. Eiesland talks about three themes that illustrate the theological obstacles encountered by people with disabilities seeking inclusion in Christian communities: 1) sin and disability conflation (blames the disability on the person’s sin and/or lack of faith), 2) virtuous suffering, and 3) segregationist charity. Eiesland spends the rest of this chapter talking about a particular case within the American Lutheran Church where their supposed theology of access for disabled people did not match their policies for ministerial qualification that rejected many disabled people as “categorically unsuitable for ordained ministry” (70).

Chapter Five: The Disabled God - This chapter explores the revolutionary implications of the resurrected Christ as the disabled God as a divine affirmation of the wholeness of “nonconventional bodies” (87). She opens by describing an epiphany where she saw God “in a sip-puff wheelchair,” the kind used mostly by quadriplegics. She writes, “I beheld God as a survivor, unpitying and forthright. [...] This theology of liberation emerged from those conversations, our common labor for justice, and corporate reflection on symbol.”

Chapter Six: Sacramental Bodies: The main focus of this chapter is on the centrality of the Eucharist in the symbolic and actual inclusion of disabled people. In the Eucharist the disabled God. In the resurrected Christ, “the nonconventional body is recognized as sacrament” (116).

View all my book reviews