Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Shack - a Spiritual Journey (A Book Review)

The Shack
by: William P. Young

I learned about this book on Twitter, of all places. This is surprising mainly because of the amount of religious people I am surrounded with; I am surprised it was never recommended before.

I watched “Mskutcher” aka Demi Moore – talk about her journey through the book on Twitter, and it intrigued me to read it. On that note, I need to mention that anyone who has had a loss of someone close to them, and even specifically if they were murdered – this is going to be difficult however incredibly helpful and healing in the long run.

This book has 252 pages. Compared to other books I read, this is considered “short”. So I thought – cool, I will read this in 2-3 days easily. 3 weeks later, I am finally done with it. Did it take so long because it was boring? Was it drawn out? NO, the opposite, it was almost too much for me to handle at times. I had to take it in pieces and take breaks when things got “too real”. That’s how intense this book is.

The main character of the book is Mack. A man who has had a terrible loss and, like many of us, questions his faith and many things about his life, because of this loss. I find Mack’s feelings, thoughts and responses to be very typical to the every day person’s struggle. Never was there a question unanswered, that if I were in his position, I would want the answer to.

About 1/3 of the way through the book, I had a major red flag. The word Jesus, then the Trinity. I almost quit. Then I remember Demi (I love how that sounds like we chat regularly) talked about how she didn’t have a specific Faith she followed, but was spiritual, and that this book didn’t intrude on that.

So I kept going. It immediately took a different turn. Young has the amazing ability to keep you comfortable while talking about a usually taboo subject. His way of making your heart HURT for Mack and his family in one moment, shed tears over the horrifying circumstances of their loss and then laugh and smiles at the feelings of love and family Mack learns in the Shack.

Young touches on many Christian topics that you may or may not agree with, however its done in a way that its easily accepted and you find yourself caring more about the well being of the character, that you get the main idea being about growth rather than it being preachy.

Towards the end of the book I had to take a break. I couldn’t tell where it was all leading to, however I did know it was going to be hard for me to handle. I lost my only brother less than 2 years ago, very tragically and suddenly – so this book helped me deal with loss and my anger with God. I went into it thinking it would be a good read and it became much more than that. I wasn’t quite ready for what William Young had for me at the end of this journey.

After about a week, I couldn’t stand it, and had to find out how Mack’s spiritual journey ended. I knew it would be hard. I bawled. It was so real but at the same time, so Unreal. Do I believe this is a FACTUAL book? Do I think this really HAPPENED to someone? I realized at the end, that didn’t matter.

April 20st until May 2nd marks a religious holiday for me, The Festival of Ridvan. It commemorates the commencement of my Faith and signifies renewal, the birth of a new Light and the celebration of all things made new. This was a perfect time to finish this book, as it helped bring me out of the darkness of Winter. Spring and Ridvan has brought new growth, new maturity and new light.

Be firm in your Faith (or lack of) and don’t ever feel as though this book is trying to preach to you. If you are firm in your Faith or belief and see it as a story of a way to deal with a horrible adversity and a way to find God during a tragedy – it’s a wonderful 252 page read…

Rating: **** (better than the average thriller movie)

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Benjarong Thai - amazing food and service like family

Benjarong Thai Restaurant
19480 State Route 2
Monroe, WA 98272

I would consider myself a connoisseur of Thai food - having been to many different restaurants and tried tons of dishes.

This restaurant is in our town - however even if I lived 20-30 miles away, I would drive to them.

I wouldn't say we are "regulars" but we go maybe once every 2-4 months. The way the staff remembers things, you would think we were there every week. They know our names, they remember our favorite things on their menu and if we haven't been in for a while, they worry. Its precious.

I decided it was time to give them the credit they deserve, when we realized it was how they treated all their customers, and its what makes them special.

I started with a Mango smoothie. It was served in a a tall chilled glass and was SO amazing.

Then came the appetizers - Fresh Rolls and a mixed appetizer plate. The fresh rolls are VERY well made amnd tasty. The mixed appetizer plate has chicken skewers with peanut sauce, spring rolls, fried prawns and little crab and cream cheese bites in philo - just amazing.

Then came my main course. I usually have either Pad Thai or Showering Rama. Tonight was Pad Thai. Their noddles are always done perfectly, never mushy or overdone.

Dinner overall was fabulous. Too stuffed for dessert, we asked for our check. The owner came out and gave us "Tofu fresh rolls to go, because we know how much you like them!" - free! It was a sweet way to end the evening and they walked us to the door, thanking us until they saw us next time.

Rating: ***** stars Amazing food and service - this place is worth the drive!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Religulous, not for the faint of heart or the insecure in Faith...

Director: Larry Charles
Writer: Bill Maher
Tagline: Do you smell something burning?

First off let me apologize for the delay between blogs. The economy is tough and so seeing movies and going out to eat seem to be harder to do as of late.

This movie was a must and we ordered it on demand.

Let me preface this review by saying I am a religious person and follow a specific faith. This movie will be offensive to those that take Mr Maher personally and find him attacking your faith. I however see this movie as Bill Maher's way to attack the fanaticism that exists in every Faith.

Similar to the religious zinger "Jesus Camp" or the propaganda filled "Fahrenheit 911" - this movie is a ride full of shocking statements that will make you either fall in love with the film and its writers agenda OR protest it.

Some of the positive aspects of the movie. Maher goes IN on just about every major faith. Granted, he is probably the hardest on Christianity, even visiting a Jesus Amusement part - complete with crucifixion reenactments - oh yes. Maher puts himself in the middle of many uncomfortable religious stand offs and says things that many people wish they had the balls to say.

The parts of Religulous I didn't appreciate, well a few of them I cannot change, one being the pompous, know it all attitude of Bill Maher himself. No matter who that man is talking to, he manages to do it with smirk and a jerk condescending tone. At times, when the religious followers he was talking to were being rude and ignorant, i appreciated it - however not all the time.

Most of the fun that was made of fanaticism was, i think deserved, as most fanatics are over the top and asking for it. However a few of the instances I felt were unwarranted and mean. In particular when he dealt with Islam and the Orthodox Jews.

Overall - you have to understand Bill Mahers type of comedy and his revulsion of organized religion as a whole - and be SURE not to take it to heart.

See it as someone trying to breakdown the fundamentalists that most of the time make EVERY faith look bad or extreme in one way or another. If you can do that, Religulous is a very entertaining movie.

Rating: *** Good movie however a bit disrespectful and over the top at times, but hey, its Bill Maher!