Gimme Shelter review

True stories about people who have performed incredible acts of humanitarianism tend to be very heartwarming, but lacking in the kind of conflict that can make for an entertaining film-going experience. Even when the central character is known on a larger scale for their exploits, say Mahatma Gandhi, the films around them can tend to get bogged down in boring details and lose site of the heart of the work the person was engaged in. While it may make for a great History Channel biopic, it’s not as interesting to watch as a story of someone who overcame great adversity to find success in life. This was my line of thinking as I sat down to watch the upcoming film Gimme Shelter, well once I first dismissed the idea that it had something to do with the beginnings of the Rolling Stones- it doesn’t.

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Grace Unplugged

If there’s a trend in religion and the church that preoccupies a great many people, it’s that millennials—those between the ages of 18 and 29—are leaving the church in uncomfortably high numbers. Recent surveys peg the percentage of young adult leavers at just over forty. In real numbers, that means 8 million twenty-somethings have given up on church and, in some cases, Christianity.

You could take months to study these surveys and read a bunch of books that talk about this recent phenomenon, or you could spend 90 minutes watching Grace Unplugged, the inspirational new film centered on an 18-year-old millennial who leaves the church, her family and her faith in search of a dream she hopes will bring her happiness and meaning.

Grace Unplugged tells a familiar story that resonates universally. In fact, it’s a three-act storyline that follows the classic hero’s journey: departure, initiation and return. It’s the story of the prodigal son (or in this case, the prodigal daughter), and we can all relate. Consequently, the plot is more than a little predictable with characters that border on stereotypes, but the effect is surprisingly strong, thanks to the musical talents of AJ Michalka in the lead role of Grace Trey.

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"Kumare: The True Story Of A False Prophet" Film Refections - False Guru's

A Special Conversant Life Guest Reflection From Bill Faris

On the screen, a man with deep brown eyes sits before a small group of quiet disciples. His hair is long and dark and his beard is full.  His dress is simple if slightly exotic – after the manner of an East Indian guru. It is nighttime, and the soft glow of candles and hanging lanterns reflect sweetly in the waters of a small backyard swimming pool.  The teacher and his disciples have gathered around the pool for a special purpose. Tonight is to be the “unveiling of our true selves”. There is a sense of expectation in the air for this act of self-revelation is the culmination of the guru’s teaching.

The man with the compelling eyes has rehearsed his talk for the unveiling event many times in private. But now that it has arrived we viewers watch as he finds himself struggling to get the words out. Perhaps it is because he knows his listeners may hate him for what he has to say. Or, as we come to see by the film’s conclusion, perhaps it is because he may hate himself.

And so begins Kumare, the documentary film by Vikram Ghandi, subtitled: “The True Story of a False Prophet”. 
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My Near Death Experiment Book Review

About a week ago I heard the story of a successful businessman who had suffered a stroke. He came close to death and yet, his life was spared, he made a relatively good recovery and was able to return to his life without complication. Except that life of his had changed dramatically in the process of coming so close to death. Instead of returning to work and continuing to go about his affluent lifestyle, the man compulsively began to give his wealth away. When asked about it, he said he felt like he had no choice but to give what he had to others in need. Everyday the man would buy lunch or fill up cars with gas for complete strangers. Today the man cannot stop giving away his life's earnings. He had a near death experience and has never been the same.

"What if you could have the life-changing effect of a near death experience without the pain, the hospitals, the drama and the potential loss? What if you could live a more meaningful life now - while it's up to you - and be happier, more fulfilled, more alive..? What if..?"

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Grace Unplugged - Music video and featurette


The new film, "Grace Unplugged," about a musician named Grace and her journey in the music industry is coming to theaters this Fall.  To learn more about the film, check out this new featurette of the song "All I've Ever Needed" performed by former Disney star AJ Michalka.  You can also see the full music video for the song here.

 Preview audiences has been largely positive about the film, and we'll be bringing our full review soon.  Enjoy!

"The World's End" Film Review

On leaving the theater from seeing “The World’s End”, part 3 of a spiritually connected set of films directed by Edgar Wright starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (aka the Cornetto trilogy), I overheard the theater attendant complaining about the film.

The Conjuring Film Review

Before Ed and Lorraine Warren encountered the Amityville house that has already been made famous in film, they helped Roger and Carolyn Perron and their five girls to be free of some very strong, evil spirits in a farmhouse they were living in. The paranormal activity involved voices in the night, moving furniture, strange bruises on the family, injury to pets, and even the possession of Carolyn. The latter event resulted in Ed performing an exorcism despite not being ordained by the Catholic Church. The story of this event is the main subject of the new film The Conjuring- opening Friday.

The film adaptation of the Warrens’ account of working with the Perrons, was done by brothers Chad and Carey Hayes (White Out, House of Wax). They draw the audience in immediately with what could stand alone as an excellent and very scary five-minute short film about a possessed doll. Taken from a story of an encounter the Warrens had previously, it is used perfectly as a self-contained opening that instantly makes the audience jump even while knowing the scare is coming. It is a relief when the lights come up at the end of the sequence and we find that Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) are giving a presentation on possession and the doll is now safely locked away in a room in there house.

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Are Evil Forces at Work In The World?

The Conjuring Possesses the Mind With Deep Theologial Questions

When I was 12 years old, my parents bought a house that was constructed around 1900. It was an old two-story house with creaky floors and squeaky pipes; the kind of house one might assume to be haunted. Shortly after moving in, while sitting alone in one of the upstairs bedrooms, I threw a quick glance towards the door just in time to catch a figure moving out of view down the hallway. Wondering who it was, I got up and followed, only to find the corridor and subsequent rooms that branched off it to be empty.

Certain I had just had an encounter with the paranormal, I shared my experience with my family and friends. From that day on, every settling of the house, howling of the wind, or flickering of a light bulb took on a new significance. It wasn’t an old foundation, a shoddy window or faulty wiring; it was confirmation of the belief that we weren’t living in the house alone. It was a fun belief that added excitement to moments that would have otherwise been fairly mundane.
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The Lone Ranger - Film Review

Please enjoy this guest contribution from my Father, Bill Faris.  Bill is a Pastor, Pastoral Counselor, and all around Renaissance Man.  You can see more of what he's up to by clicking here


The “human element”: it’s what makes a movie more than a series of car crashes, mad dashes from danger, romantic interludes, and other goings-on that carry us away until the Big Finish lets us walk back into the night air.  The human element puts us behind the makeup and inside the costumes to encounter the character’s head and heart.  It is the human element, and not merely “special effects” that truly rivet us to the screen. It is a film’s people that make it compelling: their hopes, dreams, visions, struggles, conflicts, courage, wisdom, tears, smiles, tests and victories (or failures!).  The human element makes the kiss magical, the leap from the bridge breathtaking, and the comic interlude, well, comic.  And, amazingly, it is the human element that escaped the reach of the purported $250 million budget in the bloated epic that is The Lone Ranger. 

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Starting a Dialogue with Hip-Hop

Daniel White Hodge, a blogger with ConversantLife for the past four years, is a producer with a Ph.D. In his twenties he had production credits on Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's first album, E 1999 Eternal, as well as helping to score the first two seasons of New York Undercover. With a Ph.D. from Fuller Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, he is now the director of the Center for Youth Ministry Studies and assistant professor of youth ministry at North Park University in Chicago. This interview first appeared in

How has your relationship with hip hop changed over your life?

I was a listener as a kid, back in the late 1970s when I first heard The Sugarhill Gang and Run DMC and started wondering how they put those words together. Until high school, I was more of a consumer. In high school I became a participant. In my early twenties, I was involved as a producer. Now I am looking at how God is involved in almost every facet of hip-hop culture, which has become more of a lifestyle, not just something in [a musical] corner.

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