Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a deacon dad walking humbly & seeking justice

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4 Books to Read this Lent

Lent is right around the corner. In a few short days, we will gather for Ash Wednesday in churches, on sidewalks, and in coffee shops to confess that we have not been as faithful as we could be, and to begin this journey we call Lent toward the empty tomb of Easter.

Here are four books I’ve read recently that would be great resources for small groups, sermon series, or individual devotional time.

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‘Lego Batman’ and the Importance of Family

Lego Batman movie poster“You can’t be a hero if you’re only thinking about yourself.” -Barbara Gordon

The team behind the 2014 surprise box office hit, The Lego Movie, had produced a fun, kid-friendly comic book movie in The Lego Batman Movie.  Will Arnett, who returns as the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne, is the perfect humorless, brooding Dark Knight.

The film is full of fast-moving bricks that successfully draws on decades of Batman lore. From the 1960’s television series to Batman v. Superman, references to the Dark Knight’s multifaceted phases are made . . . . and they are brilliant! The references include the “na-na-na-na” theme song and the classic “POWS.”

The pop references do not stop there. The Joker unleashes a myriad of Warner Bros. villains onto Gotham city, who have all been chilling out in the Phantom Zone. Villains such as Voldemort, King Kong, Gremlins, Eye of Sauron, the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys, and Godzilla. These references are clearly placed for the benefit of the parents. And, so, on behalf of all parents, I say, “Thank you.”

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Book Review: Stop Feedin’ da Boids!

31423679Stop Feeding’ da Boids!, James Sage, Kids Can Press, 2017

Swanda is new to Brooklyn. If you have ever been to Brooklyn, you will know that it is full of diversity, thick accents, and pigeons. Lots and lots of pigeons. Swanda, a compassionate little girl, sets up some feeding stations on her fire escape to feed the birds.

And it works. The birds come!

Things get a little chaotic on the city block with all the birds. The cooing assembly leaves their mark on the sidewalks and neighbors. The reality of what is happening reveals itself in a double-page spread featuring the amazing talent of illustrator Pierre Pratt. In vibrant pastels the reader is faced with an array of birds, feathers, and round, yellow eyes against the accents of the fast-moving city life.

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Comic Review: Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham (Rebirth)

Batman Rebirth CoverBatman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham is written by the former CIA analyst Tom King and illustrated by David Finch. It collects Batman: Rebirth #1 and Batman #1-6.

The Story (aka from the Publisher)

The Caped Crusader has never been stopped. Not by the Joker. Not by Two-Face. Not even by the entire Justice League. But now, in the wake of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, Batman must face his most challenging foe ever–a hero who wants to save Gotham…from the Batman!

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The Commercials Won

logo--events-superbowlPrimaryLast night an average of 111.3 million Americans watched the Super Bowl. I have to be honest, I went to bed for the game went into overtime and I did not know that the Patriots won until later today.

While I did watch the game, I was blown away by the commercials. Many of which began in development a year ago.

Commentators took their blogs, newspapers, and screens to declare which were the best and the worst. While I do not intend to add to the commentary clutter, some of the commercials gave me the “feels.” They were short films that communicated deep truths that we need at a time such as this.

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Book Review: The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do

the_thing_lou_couldn_t_doThe Thing Lou Couldn’t Do, Ashley Spires, Kids Can Press, 2017.

Lou is a brave girl who is afraid of very little. She will do anything!

Well, almost anything.

When her friends choose to climb a tree, Lou isn’t so sure. She is scared and uncertain. In addition, she is concerned that her friends will think differently of her because she’s not climbing the tree.

Even though she makes up some pretty fun excuses, her friends never mock or make fun of her. Lou decides on her own to join her friends by watching them have fun. She decides to try to climb the tree.

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YouTubevotional: Justice

scale_3960cIntroduction

The word “justice” is being used a lot lately. We use the phrase “justice for all,” but what does that mean? For some, justice is building a wall. For others, justice is tearing down walls. The way we understand justice too often finds itself in alignment with our politics and not our faith. “What does the Lord require?” the prophet Micah asked.

The answer? “To do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”

aJustATL is a non-profit, multi-platform social media campaign to connect Atlantans with various non-projects in the city. On their YouTube channel, they ask Atlantans, “What does justice mean to you?”

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Book Review: Spork

SPORK COVERSpork, Kyo Maclear, Kids Can Press, 2017.

It has been a long time coming, but it has finally happened: The spork is getting its recognition.

This fun, colorful book tells the story of young Spork.  Spork’s mother is a spoon and his father is a fork. This makes Spork different from the other kids. He does not fit in with the spoons and he does not fit in with the forks.

This makes Spork sad.

It is not until an occasion arrives when a fork or a spoon will not do. There was a need for “something that was neither spoon nor fork but a bit of both.” The arrival of a baby in the house gives Spork a new-found purpose.

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evil lurked

source: New York Daily News

source: New York Daily News

evil lurked
quietly in the garden.
unseen. unheard. unknown.
as God breathed the breath of life into adamah,
evil slithered in the shadows.

the adamah
became humanity.
muscles, skin, and bones walking around
breathing; sighing; crying;
placed in the beauty of the garden.

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Comic Review: Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Death & Life of Oliver Queen (Rebirth)

Green Arrow Vol. 1Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen (Rebirth) is written by Benjamin Percy and illustrated by Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra. It collects Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 and Green Arrow #1-5.

The Story (aka from the Publisher)

The way the Emerald Archer lives his life will change forever, as Green Arrow is betrayed by those closest to him!

A budding relationship with Black Canary forces Ollie to confront the fact that you can’t fight “the man” if you are “the man.” And one by one, all of his friends leave him, and all the money in the world won’t bring them back when he needs them most. The events of “The Death and Life of Oliver Queen” will rattle Oliver’s status quo so much, his choices as a superhero will never be the same again.

The Pursuit of Justice

Oliver Queen is a socialite playboy who is the CEO of Queen Industries. While he leaves the company in the trusted hands of his CFO, he is a philanthropic do-gooder. As he glides through the dark streets of Seattle as Green Arrow, his legacy of charity bears his name. The children’s hospital, the homeless shelter, and a home for battered women.

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