Lately I’ve done some reading and movie-watching and supervising of worthy projects that's led to opinions possibly worth passing along (you decide). Here are my latest recommendations. Note: None of the creators of products listed asked for my endorsement, nor did anyone provide me with free copies.
For thinking about technology and how it affects us, pick up John Dyer’s book, From the Garden to the City. Dyer argues that technology is not neutral; it changes how we operate. Case in point: I used to have my parents’ phone number memorized, but I don't even know it now that I have it programmed into my cell phone. If you can imagine it, at one time adding a printed Bible to church pews was a “technological development.” Read this book to make you think.
While we’re talking technology, perhaps your ministry has a web site and a Facebook page and a working Twitter account. What do you do with all that? A terrific resource on how to draw people to your content rather than spending your time and money on advertising is Inbound Marketing by Halligan and Shah.
E-book publishing is an exploding market. Consider taking all those devotionals your ministry has generated or that Bible study you’ve written and making them available via eBook. If you write in English, you can have a worldwide audience. The sweet spot for pricing seems to hover at about $2.99. Check out smashwords.com for DIY instructions. One of my former students suffers from schizophrenia, and he wrote a short guide to understanding that we made available online through smashwords. I’ve used Lulu.com as well. Though I usually work with traditional publishers, there’s a place in the eBook world especially for shorter, faster, first-time-author, and niche-market works.
Moving on, let’s talk about addressing injustices to women (ramifications of Genesis 3:16) along with God’s vision for woman. To do so, check out Half the Sky (a secular resource) by Kristof and WuDunn, and follow up with Carolyn Custis James’s Half the Church. James observes that the Bride that’s envisioned in the Book of Revelation “encompasses not just the female half of the church, but also the male half. We are all the bride of Christ.” James points out that this bride “transcends time and place as she lives in every epoch, culture, and location on the planet, and is last seen in the Bible on the edge of eternity.” In a world in which woman is often portrayed as “other,” we need the reminder that God has always envisioned “male and female in partnership” as the ideal for humanity.
Back in the news is Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee honored her for her “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” If you have not viewed the inspiring documentary "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" about her work in Liberia, time to access the Netflix queue.
The news service, Compass Direct News (CDN), provides creditable news, reports, interviews and insightful analyses of situations and events facing Christians persecuted for their faith. CDN operates a network of news bureaus and correspondents around the world, and they make their content available by complimentary subscription. Active subscribers may republish information—sometimes provided with photos—as long as they credit CDN (compassdirect.org). And while we’re on the subject, Smithsonian Magazine’s November issue ran an important article on the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Grab a friend and go see “The Mighty Macs.” It tells the story of Immaculata University’s Mighty Macs, three-time National NCAA Women’s Basketball champions from 1972, 1973, and 1974. This film has a pro-female, pro-faith message, in addition to making you laugh when you see how scary girls’ uniforms looked in the days before sports for women received much funding.
I had mixed feelings about “Courageous.” I appreciate that the producers are addressing the problem of fatherless homes. Dads matter! And Sherwood Films does improve their production values with each successive movie. I would still like them to improve on the acting, and I would have preferred a more creative ending than a talking head/preaching/church testimony scene. I also wish the vision for parenting they cast looked more like a partnership of husbands and wives and less like a man-in-charge (even about a daughter's permission to attend a birthday party?) model. And the number of related product-for-purchase tie-ins feels a little “golden calf-ish.” Still, go. Take tissues. And plan to be blessed.
What recommendations would you add?