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Confessions of a reluctant saint

Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber.

Pastrix – the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner and saint Nadia Bolz-Weber Jericho Books, 2013 RRP $22 Frank, amusing and profoundly moving; this book is Nadia’s faith journey told through anecdotes from her life, with vulnerability and disarming simplicity. The theme of death and resurrection weaves through the book, as Nadia tells her story of the down-and-out alcoholic who ...

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A matter of life and death

Sophie Nélisse plays Leisel Memminger in The Book Thief, based on the novel by Markus Zusak.

The Book Thief, written by Sydney-based author Markus Zusak, is one of Australia’s most successful recent cultural exports. It is a story set in Nazi Germany, narrated by Death and follows a girl who loves to steal books. The film adaptation, directed by Brian Percival (best known for directing several episodes of Downton Abbey) is a mixed success, but still ...

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Making room for Santa

Actors Edmund Gwenn and actresses Natalie Woof and Maureen O'Hara in the 1947 classic Miracle on 34th Street. Photo by Twentieth Century Fox.

“Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas? You know, the birth of Santa,” asks Bart Simpson. We wince, and wonder if this is how the post- Christian world really sees us. Have Santa and Jesus coalesced into a single mythical character of indeterminate age and girth, a miracle worker who is great with kids? There is no denying that ...

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Exalting the holy fool

Holy Fool by Michael Leunig

Michael Leunig has made teapots, ducks, crescent moons, fish and flowers an enduring fixture in the Australian cultural landscape. Perhaps best known for his cartoons, which feature regularly in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Leunig’s latest collection of artwork, Holy Fool, instead draws heavily from his other works: paintings, etchings, mixed-media collages and sculptures. Leunig’s work is always ...

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Aflame with uncomfortable truths

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is due for release 22 November. Photo by Lionsgate

With the upcoming release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at the end of November, buzz is once again gathering around the franchise, originally a trilogy of books written by Suzanne Collins. In September, the first book of the The Hunger Games series was discussed on Jennifer Byrne’s ABC show, Books that Changed the World—alongside titles including Darwin’s The Origin ...

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Love is a verb

“I used to think Jesus motivated us with ultimatums, but now I know he pursues us in love.”—Bob Goff Love is something that is often talked about, but it seems to be rarely understood. Bob Goff’s book, Love Does is a rarity. Although it is a memoir, it is not just an appreciation of Goff’s achievements and commitments—many and varied ...

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Gathering in all of God’s children

Amplifying our Witness: Giving Voice to Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities. Author: Benjamin T Connor, Publisher: William B Eerdmans, 2012, Retail Price: $21.95

Being an inclusive community of faith with respect to adolescents with developmental disability is not just about the “how”. It is not just a pragmatic question of leadership, or support mechanisms, or developmentally appropriate programming. It is a question about who we are as the people of God, and the reality that we are not all we can be if ...

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Science fiction speaks on asylum

Matt Damon stars in Elysium MA15+ Photo by Sony Pictures.

Good science fiction doesn’t just tell us where we are going, it explores where we are now. Although set in Los Angeles and directed by a South African, Elysium actually feels like it could have been made for an Australian audience. Writer-Director Neill Blomkamp’s first feature District 9, as well as some of his short films, has given him a ...

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Transformed by hope

It is easy to overlook the stories of others when we do not have a name and a face to put to them. The power of getting to know others personally is indisputable and can completely change our worldview, but getting to know people who are radically different from us is a challenge. Oceans—both literal and metaphorical—separate us, preventing us ...

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Man of Steel rings hollow

Superman standing in front of American flag

A lot of noise has been made about the Christian themes contained in the latest effort in the Superman franchise, Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder. Warner Bros has even specially marketed the film to Christians, hiring Dr Craig Detweiler, a communications professor at Pepperdine University, to write a series of sermon resources to accompany the film. Superman comics ...

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