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UNDONE BY LES MISERABLES (Join us in this important discussion!)

 

I’VE BEEN TRYING TO PROCESS WHY THIS  VERSION OF

LES MISERABLES

IMPACTED ME SO PROFOUNDLY


WAS IT BECAUSE GOD HAS USED THIS STORY BEFORE

TO SOFTEN MY HEART OF STONE?

WHEN I DID NOT WANT TO FORGIVE THE ONE WHO STOLE FROM ME

THE SCENE OF THE BISHOP AND THE CANDLESTICKS FLASHED IN MY MEMORY…

 

Sweet Jesus, what have I become?

 

THE BISHOP TOLD THE POLICE THAT HE HAD GIVEN JEAN VALJEAN THE SILVER HE ACTUALLY STOLE — BUT THAT HE WAS SO GLAD HE WAS BACK, FOR HE FORGOT THE CANDLESTICKS! ONE OF THE OPENING SONGS HUGH JACKMAN SINGS HAS THESE LYRICS:

What have I done?

Sweet Jesus, what have I done?
…Have I fallen so far
And is the hour so late
That nothing remains but the cry of my hate…


…He treated me like any other
He gave me his trust
He called me brother
My life he claims for God above
Can such things be?
For I had come to hate this world
This world which had always hated me
Take an eye for an eye!
Turn your heart into stone!
This is all I have lived for!
This is all I have known!
One word from him and I’d be back
Beneath the lash, upon the rack
Instead he offers me my freedom,
I feel my shame inside me like a knife
He told me that I have a soul,
How does he know?
What spirit came to move my life?
Is there another way to go?

 

WAS IT BECAUSE I SAW SO VIVIDLY PORTRAYED

HOW A SINGLE ACT OF MERCY

TO ONE HARDENED BY INJUSTICE,

MELTS HIM,

AND RIPPLES OUT

CHANGING LIVES,

LIKE THE MERCY MY GOD HAS SHOWN TO ME?

WAS IT BECAUSE OF MY THAI DAUGHTER

OR  THE WOMEN IN PRISON I’VE MET

WHO WERE AS ABUSED AND DESPERATE AS FANTINE?

“I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.”

 

WAS IT THE MUSIC AND THE FACT IT WAS SUNG LIVE? (Please watch!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-uw5TehnZA

IS HUGH JACKMAN, WHO PLAYED JEAN VALJEAN A BELIEVER?

I DON’T KNOW. HE SAYS HIS FATHER WAS CONVERTED BY BILLY GRAHAM,

SO HE MAY BE. BUT HIS PERFORMANCE,

I BELIEVE, CAUGHT THE ESSENCE OF TRUE CONVERSION.

 

WAS IT BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN PRAYING FOR GOD TO HELP ME CARE

ABOUT THE THINGS THAT BREAK HIS HEART?

 

ALL OF THE ABOVE,

QUICKENED BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD.

 

I WAS UNDONE.

 

I realize not all of you have been able to see this version, and may not have seen any version of it. But the concepts are scriptural, and we can talk about those whether or not you have the time or money to watch. Here is a free two hour musical stage version, though you may want to read a plot synopsis on the internet first if you don’t know the story so that you will understand the music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qVbV71MBqU

I had thought we would study Tamar as well this week — but there is just too much here —  Tamar was also a victim of injustice, so, Lord willing, we will look at her next week. (I say Lord willing because I’ve been trying to get to her all Advent and God keeps saying, “No — this way!”) Les Mis is packed — don’t feel like you have to do it all — or to read all the comments. Do what you can and you will be thinking about the things that matter most.

SUNDAY/ICE-BREAKERS

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.

3. What Christian or non-Christian themes did you see?

4. If you have not seen Les Mis, take one of these themes from the story and comment:

A. Can you think of a time when mercy shown to you released mercy to another? If so, share.

B. A repeated lyric is “you were never mine to keep…” Can you think of a time when you had to release one you loved, but were able to do so because of trust that you were releasing them to God?

C.  Can you think of a time when you misjudged someone because you didn’t know the whole story? If so, share.

D. The bishop lied to the police to spare Jean ValJean. What do you think of this and why?

 

MONDAY: How Do You Decide What To Watch or Read — and what not to?

Today I’d like us to ponder the above and discuss it together. This is important for our own hearts and for the hearts of our children, to whom we are called to protect and train in the ways of discernment. We don’t want to raise children who define Christianity in terms of the five things you don’t do and sit in their houses with judgmental hearts — we want them engaged in a broken world, operating with discerning and merciful hearts, embodying our Lord.

I  realize there are believers who feel we should not see a movie like this for there are impure elements. I have struggled with this myself, and you may disagree with my conclusion, but this is a blog where those who disagree are welcomed warmly and heard. I want us to have an honest dialogue here about how we decide what books and movies to put into our minds and hearts. We may disagree, but I so respect the women on this blog, I know the tone will be loving — and dialogue may make us all come closer in our thinking to the mind of Christ.

How do I decide? I do think we need to be concerned about offensive elements like language, sexual scenes, and violence — but the question I ask is not how many times do they occur (Unplugged simply counts the swear words, act of violence, and glimpses of nudity) but rather: Is the story powerfully redemptive and are the offensive elements essential to the story? They certainly are in Les Mis. There were offensive elements in Roots, The Hiding Place, The Painted Veil, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Amazing Grace — but each of these productions were powerfully redemptive. Are they appropriate for young children? I don’t think so. There is a time to protect innocence, and a time to see the world as it is. Also, until there is a certain level of maturity, the redemptive elements may be lost on them. For example, yesterday I was “hanging out” at my son’s when my fourteen year old grandson Simeon came home and said, “I’ve just been to the WORST movie. They SANG all the way through it.” (The family looked at me and burst out laughing.) But I am going to talk to Simeon to see if I can help him see any of the redemptive storyline. There is a a time to see these mature movies and a time to wait.

But when you think the time has come, watch it with him and process it, asking, “What were the Christian elements?” “The non-Christian elements?” If there are offensive elements, talk about how they contributed (or not) to the storyline so that he or she can begin to develop discernment in his choices. For example, in the stage version of Les Mis, for which I just gave you a link, there is a scene where one of the soldiers is crass, talking about how he’s sure a prostitute is eager to have “a poke,” and actually fingers his genitals. It is very offensive — and yet, when I read Half the Sky, that is exactly how many men view the girls who have been captured and are in the sex trade, somehow thinking they didn’t mind being raped thirty times a day. We need to see the depravity of man and be outraged so that we are propelled to do something. After World War II, so many Christians said, “We didn’t know what was happening.” Well — there is a holocaust happening now, and we need to know it. Anne Hathaway, who plays Fantine, studied the girls in the sex trade so she could capture their pain, their emotion — and she did. This was happening in Victor Hugo’s day and it is happening today — and we need to CARE. May Les Miserables awaken Christians to the need to show mercy to those who have been shown no mercy. How often I have heard unmerciful comments made concerning those in prison — and I want to take them to meet those women!

I also find movies based on real life stories such a refreshing change to the fictional cookie cutter Christian movies. So many of them whitewash life or make Christianity seem like it is all about us — that God exists to help us, that He revolves around us instead of we around Him. This life isn’t just about making our own lives better but about caring about the things that break God’s heart! If children can begin to care while they are still in your home, you may be shaping an adult that will be in instrument of compassion in a cold and hurting world.

Do I agree with everything in Les Mis? Absolutely not — I am always offended by those who equate patriotism with Christianity. And there were definitely elements that could have been skipped — but oh, there was so much gold to be mined. Our natural tendency is not to care — and any movie or book that can help us care, that can melt our hearts of stone, I would consider worth seeing or reading. The perspective that tells Christians not to watch anything other than movies by Christian production companies, or to read no books by secular authors is offensive, I believe to God, who uses whoever He chooses for His message. God used Cyrus, who He said “did not know Him,” to free the Jews. Why, God even used a donkey to speak the truth. Confining ourselves to evangelical authors  smacks of legalism to me, the legalism we see in Inspector Javert, in Les Mis. Legalism kills.

Those are my thoughts — but I would love yours.

5. Comment on the above.

6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year?


TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY: BIBLE STUDY AND REFLECTING ON LES MIS

7. Is there a lyric from Les Mis that particularly impacts you? If so, share it. (Many of the songs are available on You-tube.) Why did it impact you?

8. In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

A. Do you agree or not? Explain.

B. How would the story in Les Mis refute that?

C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?

D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?

9. Gary Haugen says that idolatry and injustice are the two things God hates most. In the message you will hear by Haugen this week, he takes us to Psalm 10. Read Psalm 10.

A. How are those who commit injustice described in verses 8-11?

B. What kind of injustices in the world come to mind by the above description?

C. What does the psalmist tell us about God according to Psalm 10:14-18?

Haugen asks, “What is God’s plan for rescuing the oppressed?” His answer: We are. There is no Plan B. I’m eager for you to hear him tell his story, for I think it will encourage you with what can be done.

10. There are so many good articles about Les Mis — here are three, and you may want to recommend others. All are excellent, but the first gives you ideas for how to have discussions with others who have seen it. Why not have friends who have seen it over for soup or dessert and discuss it?

Article 1: Link
Article 2: Link
Article 3: Link

Thursday-Friday

Listen to Gary Haugen, the founder of  International Justice Mission, designed to rescue the oppressed — especially children and women in enslaved in the sex trade overseas. The talk itself is 55 minutes followed by a Q and A (LINK). All fascinating.

11. Then reflect on these questions:

A. What stood out to you from the message and why?

B. How did Haugen say the two biggest sins are, according to Scripture?

C. How did he define injustice and how is David and Bathsheba and Uriah an illustration of it?

D. Haugen refers to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 and the little boy’s lunch. What was his point?

E. What might you do with your “lunch?”

Saturday

12. What is your take-a-way and why?

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342 comments

  1. I just read through and thought out loud–‘I just love Dee!’ I love how you get us to think, to dig, to let truths open our eyes to see more. I enjoyed the clip of the “why” behind singing it live. I was impressed by the commitment to “rawness”, to being real and honest. You could sense the freedom it brought to not have a thought-out plan that makes it nice, neat presentable–but instead, being in the moment, allowed the songs be honest laments.
    Still hoping to find a way to see this new version, especially hearing more of the behind the scenes story–my husband especially wants to so we may just each go alone!

  2. I second you Elizabeth!! Dee, this is one of your best posts!! I mean best!!

    The truths in this post are a huge part of the things God has opened my eyes with through you these past three years-yet you challenge us even more at the core and this week will be one of those weeks…I love the questions you give us to ask our children in regard to movies. I took my oldest two to see Les Mis as my husband was unable to come-those questions are good to ask.

    You are right Les Mis is too pregnant to pass over and not spend time on.

    1. Rebecca,
      How old are your two oldest boys who went with you to see the movie? I also want to see it – I had thought we could all go as a family while both my boys were home on break, but I am not sure if it may be too intense for my 12 yr. old daughter after reading the Plugged-In review; so we didn’t go.

      1. Susan,

        I do think it depends on your teen, pre-teen-kind of sensing where they are at. Mine are 12 and almost 14 years old.

  3. I have read your blog for many months now and have really enjoyed and grown from it. But this is my first response. I am compelled to respond because I too was undone by watching the movie Les Mis. It was my first exposure to the story/movie. I have literally been depressed since I saw the movie because of the deep suffering/injustice I saw on the screen. I’m sorry to admit it but my immature response was “where was God?” I saw His sovereign hand working throughout the story and the major theme of redemption and grace but I was still so crushed by the pain these people were in. I wanted God to come “rescue” them and fix their lives. Unfortunately I know God does not do that in the movies or real life. I know He is God and works mighty wonders quietly but I was still crushed. I don’t know what to do w this pain ?

    1. Welcome, Judy. You have asked some really hard questions…I can relate to the wanting God to come to the rescue and fix things, yet we know there are not always happy endings here in this life. It sounds like you have a very sensitive, tender heart, Judy, to feel the hurt so deeply.

  4. Oh, I agree! I had read that the music had been criticized because it could have been professional, but that singing live was selected to so that the rawness would come through. Seeing it on this video clip was so much more powerful than a couple written sentences explaining why the music wasn’t more “professional.” I thought “wow” when I heard the demonstration of how a song might have sounded if it had been recorded ahead of time.

    What stood out most to me from the top part here were Dee’s questions. I attended the movie with several people and also “talked” online to someone who had seen the musical. The reasons it was powerful varied so much — ranging from special memories from seeing it before, political reasons, and reminders of someone who has died. One person who wasn’t familiar with the story line thought it was another “okay” movie.

    Hard to say how I would have responded if I didn’t have some idea what was happening ahead of time. I think the rawness would have helped me understand the story, but I don’t know…

  5. Dee, is there a specific time on Sunday am when your new blog posts are usually available? I’m asking because of something I’ve done a few times when I couldn’t sleep. Kinda funny, but not too smart if I’m going to church.

    I have been known to start checking after midnight and check every hour until I see the blog (but by then I’m too tired to respond). At least, this morning, I didn’t start checking until 2:00 am when meds wore off. First, I checked on my cell phone from bed. But I had to get up and take more meds anyway so moved to my computer. Eventually, I took an additional med that conked me out. Finally, I went back to bed around 5:30 🙂 Did everything I could think of online so that I could get right on this blog (caught up with FB and work emails and ordered something from Amazon). I did read the blog on my cell as soon as I woke up again!

    I can’t go out in public today anyway and made good use of the time when I couldn’t sleep. But I was wondering if there is a standard availability time so that I can prevent my future idiocy?? (I’m not one to break down the door or set my alarm so that I get online when a sale starts, but there have been times when I’ve approached these studies that way!!)

    1. You are so funny Renee! However, i am sorry your sleeping is so disturbed 🙁

      1. Well, the most frequent reason it is disturbed is because I do stupid things! (thinking at the time, I won’t sleep tonight).

        The only reason that it’s messed up now is from being sick. I’m thankful that when I follow through on the knowledge that I have, I sleep like a rock!

        1. Renee I know you not feeling well and will pray you get better soon, but the post made me smile and what you do is not stupid. I will pray that God gives to a calming mind so you can sleep and get better.

        2. Thanks, Julie. I do know that it is less than brilliant when I drink caffeine late in the afternoon or evening just to get more work done (or stay awake for other reasons) when I have to get up early.

          Appreciate your prayers for a calmed mind. Please add “willingness to have a calm mind!” Many times, my mind isn’t calm because I’m thoroughly engaged in something I want to do (when I also need sleep).

        3. Consider it done. The prayers will be said.

      1. Thanks, Dee 🙂 Sometimes blogs are set in the system to be “spit out” at a certain time, rather than manually released. This helps me A LOT!! I will never again start checking at 12:01 am 😉

        Um, the fact that I asked does indicate that I have enough online browsing experience to know how sales sites work. When I teach online, I program the new week’s material to be released on Monday at 8:00 am (and sometimes I am scrambling at 7:30 to fix errors)

  6. B. A repeated lyric is “you were never mine to keep…” Can you think of a time when you had to release one you loved, but were able to do so because of trust that you were releasing them to God?

    Well, i suppose i am going through this right now with my daughter. Most of you who have been on the blog for awhile know my long (now boring) story of her plight in life. Suffice it to say she is 20, low IQ, leans toward Aspergers, makes horrible choices, and tends to hang around people who are involved with the law in some way. She lives at home, struggles to find consistent work, and makes me and my husband crazy because we don’t understand her at all. We raised our 4 children in church, however only one still attends. Sarah is not that one! We are tired and as of yesterday I have officially decided to “give up” on trying to make her see the light. I have given thr situation to God. I am no longer in charge. It is freeing I guess. I wish I felt better about it…..I’m just trying to not think about it. Life is hard.

    1. Laura-dancer,
      Such a good example of this. I was wondering about Sarah. For awhile, she was (semi) living elsewhere, and that was NOT good — right?

      It does sound hard — to “give up” — give her situation to God. Praying for you!

    2. Laura – I’ve been in those shoes. I had to do that with my oldest son who was hanging with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble. I was still a single mom at the time and had to worry about my younger son and would have sent my oldest to a “home” if I could of afforded it to protect him my other son and me, but I ended up giving him over to God to take care of and did what I had to do as a mom and nothing more. Will be praying for all of you.

    3. Laura,
      I don’t see this as “giving up” on your daughter when you say “I have officially decided to “give up” on trying to make her see the light. I have given thr situation to God. I am no longer in charge.”
      All my kids were also raised in church, and I read the Bible to them and tried to teach them as best I could. Two are not walking with God with one who is very resistant to being ‘preached at’. I have realized that I cannot make them believe, or understand, or have a desire for God. My job is to pray, but only God can do that for them. He is the one who has to turn on the lights for them.
      I know it breaks your heart and I’m sure you’ve cried many tears…it IS hard. But I encourage you to keep hoping in God!

      1. I agree with Susan, Laura. Giving your daughter to God just means admitting you can’t “fix” her and you are trusting in God to do His work. Keep hoping in God and we will pray with you for your daughter.

  7. 2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.
    a. The scene of the bishop giving Jean ValJean the candlesticks. This impacted me because it shows the power of grace and mercy in drawing someone to God (or at least to a better life).
    b. The only lyrics I remembered enough to impact me were from the only song I had heard prior to the movie: I Dreamed A Dream

    I had a dream my life would be
    So different from this hell I’m living,
    So different now from what it seemed…
    Now life has killed the dream I dreamed…

    I remember when very similar thoughts were entrenched in my mind about my own life. I didn’t have any specific huge dreams, but I think I did have some minimum expectations about health, how people should treat each other, etc

    c. After reflecting more on the movie, looking up lyrics (http://www.allmusicals.com/l/lesmiserables.htm), looking at Victor Hugo’s bio, and a 1 minute political discussion after the movie, I believe that the redemption theme goes far beyond individual redemption.

    In his book about “heaven” (Surprised by Hope), N.T. Wright talked about redemption of the earth and society (or something like that!). Hugo was French and lived in the 1800s. France has much less of an individual focus than the US; I suspect that Hugo’s original intent had as much to do with societal/social as with individual redemption. The individual redemption theme stood out to me in an old movie. But after reading the lyrics, I think that there is an anti-individualist theme in the music & that individual redemption is related to social redemption. It was masterful that the movie didn’t show full, idealistic social redemption, because that won’t happen in this life. I guess I should read the book 🙂

    1. Renee, your last paragraph here is really insightful. You always do your “homework”!

      1. Thanks, Susan. I’m painfully curious (and also well-socialized into geek-dom) 🙂

  8. SUNDAY/ICE-BREAKERS

    1. What stood out to you from the above and why? – Oh how I can see your hearts cry Dee. I agree with you I saw the current musical Les Mis at the theater and before I saw that I saw the version with Liam Neeson which was good, but I think the music added to the current version had so much more meaning. Each actor whether they could sing or not made me feel more compelled to feel the pain they were in. It was amazing all around and even my husband who did not want to go see it ended up taking me and he ended up liking it. He is a musician (singer/guitar player) so critiqued the singing a bit too much but I told him that was not what it was about, it was about grace, mercy and forgiveness and for the unbeliever to see that God does hear their cries and sees their pain. Loved it!

    2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart. – I can so relate to Fontine. As a single mother of two boys myself for 10 years I know the struggles of trying anything to give your kids what they need so they would not be picked on from others kids. How I cried out to God to please help me that this is not the life I wanted. I pawned whatever jewelry I had that was worth anything just to pay an electric bill because I didn’t want to burden my parents with “my issues” I was negatively talked about and lied about. I couldn’t understand why God was putting me thru the life I had at that time, but now, oh wow do I see what God was doing in my life. I now have a great husband who loves The Lord like I do and cares about me and my kids like they were his own. Thank you Lord for opening up my eyes.

    1. Julie – thank you for sharing especially the second part. I can also relate to Fontine and now to you. The pride I had kept me from sharing with my family the struggles I had as a single mom. I recall a time when a “special weekend at grandma’s” happened because the power was turned off due to lack of payment.I never let anyone know that it happened. I think back to how as a parent I want my children to share their needs with me so I can help them and be blessed in giving. How my pride blocked them from the joy of giving to me in need. I can easily see how my pride today blocks gifts from my heavenly father and how I sometimes feel my hurts are too little to bother him. I am learning…slowly but surely! A funny story about this was we had hired a few different exterminators and specialists to figure out how a squirrel was getting in our attic and causing chaos. After hundreds spent and more sleepless nights I finally prayed about it and gave it to God. Never heard the squirrel again! Somehow I have been trained to take big things to God and try to solve the small things myself. Like God can’t be bothered. Just as a parent wants their child to seek their love and assistance – God desires us to seek Him and accept His many gifts.

  9. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? That Dee was caught off guard by Les Mis and that God so totally overwhelmed her by the message that He opened to her from the movie. I suspect that Dee thought she was going to a movie, but God had other plans, jumped out from behind the bushes and said surprise I have a gift for you. God sometimes reveals things to us in expected ways and Dee was open to what God had wanted her to see. The power of what God showed from the movie compelled her to alter her plans for this week. What that tells me is that there is something from the discussion this week that one or more of us will hear or need to hear and that I hope my heart will be as open as Dee’s was to hear or see what He has in mind.

    2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.
    I have not seen the new movie, however the Liam Neeson version happened to be on TV last night and although I didn’t see most of it, I was able to catch parts. A few things stood out from the parts I did see, but towards the end of the movie Jean Valjean showed mercy to Javert, even though Javert had hunted him for decades. Javert said if Jean Valjean showed him mercy, he wouldn’t do the same in return that he would continue to hunt him down; even so, Jean Valjean let him go. At the very end of the movie, Javert told Jean Valjean that he had lived by the law his entire life, had never broken never one law and had never shown anyone mercy because it was not permitted to him. Javert then threw the rule book out and told Jean Valjean he would be free from that point on and then gave his life in exchange. In death Javert gave Jan Valjean the mercy he never could in life.

    3. What Christian or non-Christian themes did you see?
    Jesus, hunts us down, never lets up, continues to pursue us until in the end he catches us and shows us mercy by giving up his life so that we may have the freedom we never could have by the law.

    1. I agree with your #1, Mary. God is on the move this week in a major way. I sense it too. We need to pray for each one reading or participating in this blog.

      1. Diane,
        You make a great suggestion here to pray – I’m going to do just that.

        1. I agree with both Diane and Susan.

  10. 3. What Christian or non-Christian themes did you see? – I definitely saw forgiveness, grace and mercy. But to some even though they saw these elements of God they would not return them to those they should have. The grudge was continuing to be held and the offense remembered though the time was done that cleared it. The abuse to women in the movie was heart wrenching but sadly is true today still. The unclean living conditions that some had to live in were awful yet those who saw it did nothing about it for the most part. The injustice in the court room scene would have convicted an innocent man if Jean ValJean would not have stepped up and listened to the tug of his heart from God. The killing of innocent children was hard to see going on in especially after what we have witnessed in the US lately. I believe the balance of good and evil was close but the good won out because of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and love that he shows to all.

    1. Julie,
      I appreciate how you’ve described the heart-wrenching conditions, and I’ve seen all of those conditions, even in the Midwest. Recently, I was visiting an area to build professional connections. I saw that attitudes of the heart make so much difference in response to those who are the victims of injustice. One person (different ethnic group from mine) was telling me about all the racism, poor treatment, etc that continues in the community. He was right; he did go on and on and on, but he obviously was accurate, so I listened. Then, I met someone else (again, different ethnic group than me. She was very aware of the same injustices. They do seem obvious, even to me). This time, I ASKED about racism. Rather than “we have it so bad” (I wanted to confirm some specific info on “how bad they have it”), the response was “they would never let you into their houses.” (She was focused on ME!). Still processing what that means, but both were working to solve problems ultimately stemming from injustice (as well as sin).

  11. Dee,
    I was deeply moved by this version, and I agree that it could be for many reasons. But I think the use of the camera to come so close and the deep emotion shown by the actors during the songs was the conduit. I honestly believe music touches the soul in ways the spoken word can’t, and these actors were incredible. Their ability to BE the characters and connect us to the pain and agony of stolen lives was heartrenching.

    I was captivated from the begining, but the scene that stays with me is the end. I saw them as the “great crowd of witnesses” cheering us on but also as those who believed in a better way and gave their lives for our freedom. So as an American and as a Christian, I was touched to the core.

    Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this.

    1. Welcome Sandra!

  12. 3. What Christian or non-Christian themes did you see?

    I’m having a hard time separating Christian from non-Christian themes, because the themes I’m thinking about now are woven together.

    Tension between transformed life and moralism. We might have “made a decision” but move quickly into moralism. I wasn’t sure if Jean Valjean had fallen into a semi-moralist Christian trap, if he had even had a desire to honor God, or if he primarily was motivated to “give back” in a more secular way (whatever that means). I do believe that mercy releases “goodness” (but not necessarily a Godliness-informed goodness) in (some) others.

    When I looked at the lyrics, I realized that the Jean Valjean character most likely could be pegged as a believer going through a spiritual struggle. When watching the movie, I wasn’t convinced that he had been redeemed until he forgave Javert (and told him that he was only doing his job).

    Tension between justice and mercy, with some moral relativism mixed in.

    Mercy: Jean Valjean had been shown mercy, and he showed mercy. Yet he broke parole, and continued to run from the law WHILE he was doing good.

    Justice: Javert was a “good guy.” He worked hard to get where he was (i.e., he came from rotten circumstances, too), and he was determined to enforce the law, no matter what. And his behavior may not have been wrong. But his heart was wrong; he was undone when he saw forgiveness, “true goodness.” Javert expected a follow-the-rules goodness duel. And he would have won.

    Moral relativism: My heart goes out to those who end up in horrible circumstances (sometimes sin) because of wrongs by others or society “put them there.” Because of grace and acceptance shown to me by those in underdog situations at a time I desperately needed it, I’m often more comfortable around “tax collectors and sinners” than “good guys.” (“Good guys” who don’t see their own sin).

    The moral relativism in the movie is subtle (a not-Christian theme!). I can easily get on a soapbox supporting the oppressed and have to be careful to think clearly about sin and grace, about the law and gospel. Both in the movie and in my life, I have seen people caught in sin. Often, even among believers, the idea that we should cut people slack because they have had a hard time (with which I agree) turns into “but that isn’t wrong because s/he had a hard time.” Stealing and prostitution break the law. Because I have a tendency to support the underdog/try to understand the circumstances, I err in the direction of not acknowledging sin.

    It’s up to God (not me!) to convict a sinner of his or her sin. But the danger of not acknowledging (at least mentally) “no other option”-type sins in others is that I apply that I then apply that kind of thinking to myself. As a Christian, I ALWAYS have other options.

    Yes, people may turn hard because of rotten circumstances (e.g., scuzzy inn keepers, even Fantine), and mercy can lead to redemption. But I can’t fully understand mercy until I see my own sin. With the exception of when Valjean told Javert that he was only doing his job, I don’t recall any recognition of sin. Rather, it was excused or explained. (But I haven’t read all the lyrics yet and certainly don’t remember them!!)

    4. If you have not seen Les Mis, take one of these themes from the story and comment:

    Glad I’ve seen it so that I don’t have to answer these =) “D” is hard!!!

    1. Like Dee you last comment about D being hard made me smile.

  13. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    “WAS IT BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN PRAYING FOR GOD TO HELP ME CARE
    ABOUT THE THINGS THAT BREAK HIS HEART?”

    Dee is teaching me something very important when she says this. For instance, she goes to prisons and loves the women she finds there. She is not afraid of their pain. She is willing to have her heart break in identifying with their pain because God’s heart breaks over their pain. I am beginning to realize that all my life I have protected myself from pain. I didn’t want pain – emotional or physical. I held myself from others; from REALLY entering into their pain. I was afraid of their pain.

    One thing that I realized early on in my musings about the breakup of my daughter’s marriage was that I had never understood before how much emotional pain the parents and loved ones go through when this happens. I think that God is teaching me that families with broken marriages and emotionally broken lives are things that break God’s hearts. He longs for those of us who are Christians to come alongside these people and to not draw back in fear from them, as if their broken marriages and emotions will somehow contaminate our own marriages and lives. We should not feel that they must have done something to deserve this pain and look down on them, even unconsciously. I have so much to learn. I have to let God totally re-educate me in this area.

    Keller was right when he said that families can be “acceptable” idols for Christians. I didn’t realize that I felt this way until this recent crisis. Family can become #1 for us, instead of God being #1. If our family doesn’t work, we are devastated and suffer terrible pain because we think that, if we do all the right things, God must bless us and we deserve the perfect family. At least, that is how I felt. My family has been an idol in my life. It is like I am an alcoholic.

    1. So good, Diane. Pain can be an effective teacher; I don’t think I would have learned some things if it hadn’t been for pain. But pain is even more painful until we are ready to learn from it. I like what you said about entering in to pain with others. I do want to enter in to pain with many people, and it’s easiest when I can see a bigger picture. But seeing (and feeling some compassion for) Javert has helped me see my own hypocrisy. I’ve thought people “get what they deserve” if they have, in my opinion, been self-righteous jerks and then get what they deserve.

      Families seem to be an acceptable idol not only in individual families in churches, but a type of idolatry that is promoted in some churches. This idolatry is reinforced by how some (especially larger) churches do programming. One time, I joined a small group in a church and requested a group as diverse as possible. As diverse as possible still meant everyone was white, but it made a such a wonderful difference to have people from a multiple marital statuses (married, never married, divorced) and social classes. I was attending a church in which most people were either wealthy, high status in business, or were almost broke because they were in ministry or were students. So, I suspect all of us still had an element of exclusive intellectual snobbery, but it was nice to break down 1 and a half

    2. Diane, your second paragraph struck me…I believe you are correct…when we personally experience a pain (death of a marriage, death of a loved one, etc.) our understanding and compassion becomes much greater for folks going through similar circumstances…we are much more likely to be more aware and prompted to extend the hand and heart to another with understanding and without judgment.

    3. Oh Diane the paragraph that starts with “One Thing” is so good. As a divorced lady, I can say it is so good that you see, that because a person is divorced that it won’t rub off on you or your marriage. These ladies or men need to have friends and family there behind them lifting them up in prayer if nothing else. We so need to know people don’t think we are an outcast because our marriage vows were broken. We have a lady in our small group that is divorced and she feels out of place in our group though we encourage her to come to the group and grow in the Word and we go to her house to help her with things that she can’t do by herself. Just reaching out to someone who is divorced to see if there is anything that can be done to help is a big help. My friends would take my boys out (especially my oldest as him and his dad are not close at all) for lunch just so they could have “guy” time and be with a Godly man and have that influence around them. If there are kids involved it makes it a little harder as they don’t understand the whys and are embarrassed to be around other kids that have a mom and dad living in the same house, or at least my oldest was like this. Thanks Diane for your thoughtfulness to see.

      1. Julie, thanks for sharing how you and your kids were impacted by caring Christians who reached out to help you after your divorce. And it is great that your small group reaches out to the divorced woman in practical ways. That helps me see how I should be looking for ways to help in small ways.

    4. Diane, so much here..it is amazing how God awakens us through trials and softens us and helps us to grieve over what grieves Him-to see others who are suffering and become more willing to enter into their pain..So so good. This encourages me in regard to my dad. A different situation but he is older and facing dying..He knows it is coming-well I do too, and I just found out yesterday morning that his prostate cancer may be back-he didn’t look well over Christmas and I can tell he is scared and I am the only one among my siblings who is able to be with him.

    5. Diane,
      This is a wonderful post, but it is hard-earned insight, too.

    6. Diane, you are such a wise soul–” If our family doesn’t work, we are devastated and suffer terrible pain because we think that, if we do all the right things, God must bless us and we deserve the perfect family.”
      I’m thankful for you

    7. Thanks for all your kind words, everyone. It is a hard lesson and I am still learning. I too, like cyndi, can easily be a bit of a Javert personality, though I see now much more clearly how wrong it is.

  14. Oh, wow, Dee. I just read ahead to what you wrote for Monday — and I’m bawling. So much of it strikes a chord with what I’ve been processing. (have to think more clearly before I respond to anything emotional).

    It dawned on me, that depending on one’s perspective, both “sides” could be viewed as being patriotic but in different ways — much like today.

    I REALLY got on here to seek clarification about a gap in the movie or something I missed:

    -Jean Valjean stole and tried to escape. He paid the debt, 5 years for stealing, the other years for trying to escape.

    -I had the impression that when he was released, he was still on parole, had better not mess up, AND (where I am questioning) had to continue to check in.

    -He messed up, but the bishop’s merciful response took care of his crime. It seems as if Javert was looking for him for a couple reasons, to catch him in crime AND because Valjean broke parole (by not remaining in contact?)

    This isn’t quite as picky as it seems because of the issue of acknowledging sin and its consequences vs trying to run from it and “being better.” If parole involved “checking in” as it often does today, Valjean remained guilty — and Javert (maybe) was wrong in his persistent search. If Valjean broke parole, Javert’s behaviors were right (even though he was prideful).

    1. oops, got a little mixed up in direction of “argument” at the end was wrong vs wasn’t wrong. Might have said same thing twice. Brain is done for the day.

  15. P.S. Tell Simeon that I’m with him! I need more than music I’ve never heard before to figure out what is going on in a story, and if there were too many gaps in my understanding, I’d be annoyed too (unless I went for the reason of hearing good music). In opera, they often give you a paragraph so you can sorta understand, even when it’s in a different language. If he didn’t go to enjoy the music, it would be like going to the opera and hating the sound of the music.

    I had seen an old non-musical movie of Les Mis (several times) and knew the basic redemption theme and storyline. So, yeah, talking about redemption would be good (maybe even after watching a non-musical video with him). Keep us posted!

    e.g., I still have no idea what happened in “Oklahoma” and have seen it a few times — but wasn’t engaged enough to try to understand (outdoors with mosquitoes didn’t help)

      1. I talked to Eli and Isaac yesterday and Eli was stuck on how to say Les Miserables the right way as he has some beginning French..that is all he could say about the movie and his favorite song was ‘angry men’…sigh..;-/ That said Isaac-when asked directly and reminded about a scene ‘got’ what I was asking and answered the questions well about the christian and non-christian themes..I still don’t think they got the deeper layers of truth though..I think the meaning was a bit too far above their heads.

  16. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    “HOW A SINGLE ACT OF MERCY … RIPPLES OUT CHANGING LIVES”
    The ripple effect of goodness and mercy gives me great hope…one small drop provides ripples to the edge. No act of kindness, goodness, mercy, no matter how small, is wasted; “a seed” may be planted, nurtured, or come into full bloom with the “ripple” effect of kindness displayed or mercy provided.

    2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.
    The bishop’s treatment of Jean Valjean…I’m not even talking about the bishop covering for Valjean when he was found with the bishop’s silverware and then giving Valjean the candlesticks; I’m talking about the bishop’s initial kindness and hospitality to Valjean. The bishop treated Valjean in a manner Valjean had not seen in 20+ years; the bishop treated Valjean as a “normal” person without the shadow of his being a convict or a “low life”. The bishop’s kindness and hospitality was the first “small drop” in the ripple effect of Valjean’s aid to others. Additionally, because Valjean had experienced injustice personally, he was more aware and understanding of those suffering injustice which prompted him to extend his hand and heart to those in similar circumstances.

    I wanted to also mention that Eponine stood out to me…she so much wanted Marius to want her, to love her romantically…she could have hardened her heart, followed similar actions as her parents, etc., but she didn’t…she acted in honesty and as a friend despite desiring to be more. If Eponine had concealed the letter, that likely would have been the end of Marius and Cosette.

    1. Nanci, Such a good observation about Eponine, Marius and Cosette. This also reminded me how Marius learned that Valjean took him out of the sewer (most likely the infection of earlier wounds in the sewer caused Valjean’s death). Valjean gave his life for Marius and for Cossette’s happiness. Two Christian themes: good deeds done in secret and giving one’s life for others.

  17. Caring about the things that break God’s heart….well Les Miserables was overflowing with those things! “Those things” abound in the world outside our doors…..and perhaps inside our doors as well. For several years now I’ve been priveleged to minister God’s Word to women in prison too…..propelled there by a tragedy in my extended family that shattered our world as a family…..and got my feet in the door of a prison for the first time in my life! “I Dreamed A Dream” is a song that so many of these precious ones could sing with all their hearts! Truly, how many of us could relate to Fontine as she sang…..at least perhaps in memories of earlier times of our lives……..but then came our Redeemer! Who among us “deserved” Him??? How can it be? GRACE. MERCY.
    Nanci, I love that you loved Eponine! Amen to all of your comments on her selfless love and acts of courage!
    Diane, how BEAUTIFUL that you are able to share your pain and brokenness and how God is meeting you and TEACHING you there in the valley. How true, how true that our family can be an idol for us…….
    Back to Les Mis…….as to the Bishop’s lie to the police……maybe I’m missing something or am not morally sensitive enough here, but I thought it was wonderful! Indeed, Rahab did essentially the same for the spies in Jericho…..and was commended as an example of FAITH IN ACTION by James (James 2:25/26)….and of course is one of the women in the geneology of Jesus, etc……even Corrie Ten Boom came to mind…….the HUNDREDS of Jewish lives saved by her humble family in Holland as they provided a “Hiding Place”…….

  18. Dee’s perspective on the world around us is one of the things I so love about her. I think, Dee, that you come the closest to seeing the world as Jesus sees it of anyone that I have ever known. This is how i want to be. Thank you so much for this post. It is excellent!
    Unfortunately the friend that wants to also see Les Mis cannot go until next weekend so i will have to wait. Alfred kept putting it off and finally admitted that he does not want to see it 🙁 though we did see The Hobbit.
    I have face to face Bible study starting back tomorrow. Then a full day Tuesday.
    I hope to be in later in the week. Love you all.

      1. I will pray Dee but I have to tell you that I see much good.

  19. 5. Comment on the above.

    I agree with you, Dee on most of this. I still struggle with the prison issue.

    6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year?

    I decide what to read and watch based on time and money mostly. I don’t usually go to the movies to re-hash everyday life though. I prefer to watch movies that are uplifting, humorous, or adventurous. Sad, scary, sci-fi (no lord of the rings please) are not my cup of tea. I even struggled a bit with Narnia. I like books that “take me away,” or mysteries.

    No real goals here :(….to keep my head above water and continue Bible study.

  20. I found a tv version of les miserables on Netflix. It had one of my favorite actors, John Malkovich (?) in it so I went ahead and turned it on while I graded papers. Well, I didn’t get very many papers graded 🙁 I wanted to understand the story so I could participate this week.

    Here’s a couple of things that dawned on me as I watched. People are very connected whether we realize it or not. I’m not real clear on why the main actor decided to live his entire life for this girl he really didn’t know, nor did he really know her mother. I get helping people, but he was hyper focused on her for some reason. It was kind of creepy but nice that someone cared for her.

    1. Laura I think he felt obligated because it was his company that Fantine was working for that put her out on the street because they found out she had a daughter but didn’t have all the facts. So she was without a job and couldn’t pay the couple anymore for Cozette.

      1. I thought he was a police detective like Javert? I will need to go back and look again.

        1. I’m also confused on why Fantine died? I realize she was beaten, but did something else happened that I missed? Good thing I’m not watching the singing version! I can’t even understand the speaking one!!

        2. I figured it was illness related to her awful circumstances, prostitution, having teeth ripped out… some kind of infection.

          Looked on some website and it said tuberculosis.

          We weren’t the only ones with the question. In the Google search bar, I typed “how did fantine” and google finished the phrase with “die” and “die in les mis”

        3. Laura he owned the sewing shop or sweat shop that Fantine worked at and I think a mayor or something of the place they were in. And Renee I remember hearing too that Fantine died from TB not sure if it was the version with Liam Neeson or the current version.

  21. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    The great questions Dee asks herself about why she came undone. I too came undone but am trying to put my finger on it-there are so many threads in the movie that hit a chord with me.

    2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.

    There are many, but I will pick one that just came to mind. When Russell Crow, inspector Javert, did what he did at the end I thought-no! don’t do that! There is Grace for you too..So that broke my heart. Yet I see the difference between how Jean Valjean responded to mercy and inspector Javert responded to mercy. After their hearts are exposed by mercy Jean comes undone and humbles himself before God and the Javert comes undone and goes the other way.

    Jean Valjean sees people as people and loves them even though he struggles with God because his flesh doesn’t want to show mercy, yet he relents to God, Inspector Javert sees people as trees walking-he would only refer to Jean Valjean as number 24601-the thief.

    So, where are the places in my heart that I am like inspector Javert? Where are the places that are like Jean-i have to say if I have any Valjean in me it is totally Him!

    Another place that touched me was Valjean taking care of Cosette-and not just going through the motions to provide a home and honoring his obligation, but truly adopting her and loving her as his own-in the car ride after he picked her up..the song was incredible..I tried to find it and found the list of songs but I don’t know which one it is.

      1. Wow, I didn’t think of Judas and Peter but you are right.

  22. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    First, that the way in which the gospel comes through in the story of Les Mis flashed in Dee’s mind when she was struggling to forgive the woman who had stolen from her. Great, powerful literature and some stories told on film can give us a picture of the gospel that sticks with us.

    Secondly, the lyrics sung by Jackman – I see the gospel in them. “Sweet Jesus, what have I done?” He goes on to name his wrongdoing – hatred, having a heart of stone.
    Then, “One word from him and I’d be back beneath the lash, upon the rack. Instead he offers me my freedom.” That’s what Jesus did for us – instead of punishment, He offered us freedom but at the cost that He took our place.

    I also like the picture of the drop of water rippling out – it reminds me of the verse that says that the love of God was shed abroad in our hearts – our hearts don’t just contain that love, all enclosed; it should ripple out.

  23. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.
    Maybe it is the adoption stuff we are going through but the negotiation for Cozette was tear jerking. Then when she asks can I call you papa. And the length he goes to to protect her from the world and all the bad around them including the past. There is just so much we can do like him to help the orphaned children.

    B. A repeated lyric is “you were never mine to keep…” Can you think of a time when you had to release one you loved, but were able to do so because of trust that you were releasing them to God? Yes, early on I had to release my autistic child to God. Something in me always wanted to “fix” her yet God was using it all to fix me. 🙂 Once I released her peace came pouring in.

    C. Can you think of a time when you misjudged someone because you didn’t know the whole story? If so, share.
    ha ha yes, this godly guy who I really respect now, however when we first met he had many tatoos and I judged him almost ready to write him off but my husband stepped in and said not to judge yet.

    D. The bishop lied to the police to spare Jean ValJean. What do you think of this and why?
    Well I do not like lying for any reason however I remember the midwives in the old testament when they would not kill the Hebrew babies. It is a thin line. The radio drama we listened too the bishop said all is yours take what you need so technically jean val jean did this. So he did not really steal but then the grace by giving candle sticks as well WOW! Grace that changed a mans life.

  24. 5. Comment on the above. I really liked what you said about your grandson? who was 14. Talking kids through this hard stuff at the right time I think is key. My kids asked to see the movie after we listened to the radio drama and I said no because they are not mature enough to handle the emotional reality of some of it. The cruelty of the world. They know there are slaves today but dont realize the capacity. In innocence my oldest said, I don’t understand why people steal kids, I mean they don’t clean very well. She has a Cinderella type picture of slavery making people work like that. I don’t want to crush her innocence yet. I want it to last as long as it can in this world.

    6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year? I like to watch things that have redemptive quality. I liked the Hunger games which I know many had various opinions on. I found it interesting watching the storyline of something that could happen like that when God is absent. It had redemptive themes and was really sad but makes you think.

    The Hobbit we watched it and I let the kids see it but was unsure. They were ok. There are redemptive scenes in it. I try to see all things through a God lens. What kind of lessons can be applied through it even if the name is not mentioned like in the book of Esther. I talk these things through the ones I let the kids watch, like Brave the cartoon. Many redemptive things. We talk it through. All a teachable lesson.

    I do not watch things that I know will mess with my mind and draw me away from Christ, high killing, serial murderers, rape, violence, too much cursing, horror films, sex all the time films. mostly this means rated R or above. Some of the war movies my husband wants to watch are rated R but for different reasons. It is not legalistic it is just in general if it does not draw us to God then it is pointless to watch.

  25. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    How “art seems to imitate life”
    I wonder if Victor Hugo may have been a believer because some of the charactors seem to represent figures we see in Christianity

    The Monsignor – is a type of Christ figure to Jean Valjean
    Valjean – is a sinner who is redeemed through the Mercy and Grace of the Monsignor
    Javert – is a type of Pharisee because he thinks only the law can show mercy and refuses to be forgiven by Valjean. He is obessesed with the law.

    2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.
    Fantane. I felt like her at one point where my dreams died. But I have learned through Christ that He can revive dreams and give us new ones and new Hope.

    3. What Christian or non-Christian themes did you see?

    Mercy, Grace, Forgiveness, Redemption, Hate, Pride, Self Righteousness, Anger

  26. Deciding what to watch….I remember the “garbage in garbage out” that was taught to me as a child and really try to avoid filling my mind with garbage. I agree with dee on the redemptive aspect of some entertainment and try to learn as much as possible prior to buying a ticket. I had read many classics such as Les Mis in school – a hundred years ago and appreciate the deep messages and the impact they had then and now today. It is difficult for me when my step daughter shares the movies her mother takes her to because I feel they are innapropriate for her but I use the opportunities to develop conversation and hopefully allow her to see the things she didn’t like in the show. The three girls are exposed to many things and a way of life we disagree with but this leads me to our goal of letting go and letting God.

    On sunday we sang “The more I seek you, the more I find you, the more I find you, the more I love you, I want to sit at your feet….lean against you and feel your heart beat”. we can feel Christ’s heartbeat in ways that may not be traditional “religious” methods. Seeing this movie or whatever I have opportunity to do- I can snuggle into God and feel His mercy and heartbeat. I truly want my heartbeat to echo His.

    I think one area I need to be very cautious as a Christ follower is the example I give. I feel if I am seen doing what can be percieved as “wrong” by a neighbor or friend it does not matter my intentions and I try to be aware of my witness. Because of this I choose even more carefully and seek God’s direction in my movie, book selections because I do not want to have my actions cause another to stumble.

    1. Becca–I use the “garbage in garbage out” a lot too! My daughter has possibly read more at 9 than I have in my lifetime–and it’s a struggle to find age-appropriate stuff these days!

  27. 5. Comment on the above.

    I haven’t seen Les Mis, but I’m hoping to soon. I’m intrigued by Dee’s descriptions and insights.

    I so agree with her comment, “I also find movies based on real life stories such a refreshing change to the fictional cookie cutter Christian movies. So many of them whitewash life or make Christianity seem like it is all about us — that God exists to help us, that He revolves around us instead of we around Him. This life isn’t just about making our own lives better but about caring about the things that break God’s heart!”

    For me, some realistic Christian movies can encourage me, but many of these “cooker cutter Christian movies” put me on a guilt trip. When life gets painful and messy and my life doesn’t look like those portrayed, I start wondering where I’ve failed. But sometimes there is no conviction of specific sin in my life, just the struggles of living in a fallen world.

    Still, I sometimes think like Job’s friend, who said, “Remember now, whoever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off? Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” Job 4:7-8
    Yet we know that Job was not being disciplined, nor did he know why he had gone through so much suffering.

    Suffering tends to make us more compassionate, and when Christians are real about their struggles, either in movies or real life, unbelievers are more willing to listen to our confessions of God’s goodness and grace in our weaknesses. If religion without relationship, power, and passion turns me off, think how it affects nonbelievers.

    Nearly everyone is hurting over something. No one wants to be reminded that they are imperfect. Neither believers nor unbelievers want to see unattainable fairytales. I am not edified by watching a “strong Christian” overcoming in his own discipline or hard work.

    I am edified when I see our Lord as the Champion, overcoming/rescuing in the real, dark situations in life. I think what is most powerful is to see the reality of God’s love and acceptance in the midst of weaknesses and failures, His power changing hearts and lives, and that it’s available for everyone…especially the weak, despised, and forgotten.

    Lord, let Your love and power be real in me to see others as you see them, to love as you love, to sacrificially serve as You serve.

    1. Cathy,
      I loved your last part about seeing “our Lord as the Champion, overcoming/rescuing in the real, dark situations in life.”…and all the rest of what you said!
      You are right – He is the Hero; it is not accomplished by being a “strong Christian” trying to do it on your own.

  28. 2. If you have seen Les Mis, name at least one specific storyline or lyric and why it impacted your heart.

    I haven’t seen the new musical movie, but I’ve seen the one with Liam Neeson playing Jean Valjean. It’s been awhile, but I remember being confounded when the priest didn’t turn Valjean in to the police for stealing, but rather showed him mercy instead. Yet, the mercy came with a ‘price’ – Valjean was told he now had to live a different life. I like this because we can come to God and receive mercy and it is free (for us), yet we are called then to follow Christ, not just go on our way.
    I also remember being moved by the tenderness Valjean shows to Fantene as he cares for her when she is dying, and how he raises her daughter as his own.
    Javert reminds me of the unforgiving Elder Brother in the story of the prodigal; that doggedness, rule keeping, refusing to show mercy.

    3. What Christian or non-Christian themes did you see?

    The redemption of Valjean is certainly a Christian theme, even as his past continues to haunt him. His caring for Fantene – doing unto “the least of these”, Jesus said, it’s as if we have done (caring for the sick, the prisoner, the poor) it unto Him.

    4. If you have not seen Les Mis, take one of these themes from the story and comment:

    B. A repeated lyric is “you were never mine to keep…” Can you think of a time when you had to release one you loved, but were able to do so because of trust that you were releasing them to God?

    Well, I just had to do it again yesterday! I drove my son back to school in PA after his Christmas break. I can’t tell you how I’ve come to cherish our 3 1/2 hours of driving together. I took him back by myself after his Thanksgiving break, and for Christmas break, I went by myself to pick him up and then to take him back. We just chat and talk about all sorts of things…but when I had to leave him and return home alone, it is painful. I’m still kind of blue today because I really miss him. As I drive the long drive home, each mile I get further away from him makes it hurt more.
    But, I can’t “keep him”. He is my son, but he doesn’t belong solely to me. I pray for him, for God to take good care of him, to protect him, and mostly, to keep pursuing him with His love.

    1. oh Susan, I just smiled when I read your “B”. I mean, I hate that you’re down today–and I will pray for the emptiness you feel. But I just love the example you are to me with your kids. Oh they are SO blessed. I can just imagine what a sweet time it was on the drive. You remind me of Mary, “treasuring” in your heart. And I can only imagine what a treasure it honestly is to your kids, to have a mom like you–such a listener, and one who truly cares and is “in their corner”.

    2. Susan I will pray for your son’s and for you. I know how hard it hurts when they have to go back. I’m so glad you and your son had those good talks:)

  29. I know that this week’s study is going to be painful and life changing for me. I can’t really start getting into it until tomorrow.
    I have a very difficult letter to write to an uncle who abused me for many years and has stage 4 stomach cancer. I have to find the words to convey God’s grace while not allowing hatred and bitterness to seep back into me. I want to speak the truth in love without excusing his actions or making light of the pain that his actions have caused me. I have not spoken to him and have seen him only 3 or 4 times in over 20 years.
    I fear that my letter will be met with scorn.

    1. oh Dawn, I will pray for you right now.
      Lord, please give Dawn the words to say, and discernment of what not to say–guide her to speak truth and grace. Please prepare her uncle’s heart to receive them. I pray this would bring healing, Lord. In Your Name, I pray, Amen

      1. Amen…

      1. I’m seeing God’s leading here, Dee…how this week’s study has intersected right into Dawn’s painful situation.

    2. Oh Dawn, that would be so difficult! Praying for God’s love and healing to pour through your words to him.

    3. Oh Dawn…I will be praying for you as you get your thoughts together and write this letter. I can only imagine how painful this is for you. As to your last sentence about what you fear – a verse from the psalms came to mind…”The one who looks to Him will never be put to shame.”

    4. Oh Dawn, praying for you… I can’t even put it into words. So thankful the Spirit is interceding in prayer. Love to you!

    5. Praying, Dawn. Oh my, this is hard for you!

    6. Oh Dawn, my heart is on your side. I would like to make one suggestion (I had to write a similar kind of letter many years ago). After you have written the letter, put it aside, don’t even look at it until the next day. Go back to the letter the next day and read with fresh eyes to see if it conveys the message of truth without anger and bitterness. I found that I started well, but then had to make a couple of changes towards the end as my anger and bitterness were starting to creep in, but I only saw that once I went back to the letter later.

      My letter was excruciatingly painful to write, but once it was done, I actually felt more peace about the situation than I had in a long time, it was as if that letter was part of my healing process. I stressed a bit about the response, however the moment I put it in the mailbox (the point of no return) the matter was no longer in my control, it was as if I had truly given it over to God and He granted me the peace I needed to know that I had done what God had asked me to do, the outcome was in His hands.

      I pray that you get through the letter with a grace that is hard in this circumstance and that you will feel the peace and healing for this that can only come from God….and I send you a great big hug.

      1. I am a letter writer when I am upset or angry. They are usually never sent. It is my way of getting the issue off my chest. I am free after i write it. I pray Dawn that you are also free.

    7. Dawn, I will pray for you as well. The power of one act of forgiveness, one act of mercy is transformative. John Ortberg says that not forgiving someone is like taking rat poison yourself and waiting for the rat to die. We are the ones poisoned by our unwillingness to forgive…even the unforgiveable. Impossible without Christ.

      May The Lord inspire your words and warm your heart as you right. May you write in the light of Christ’s grace. May The Lord give your Uncle ears/eyes to receive grace..

    8. Praying for God to lead you in what to say and do.

    9. Praying for you Dawn…let God lead you on what to say…so sorry:(

  30. Javert….I am ashamed to say that way to many times in my life he is the one i relate to most. I tend to believe if you would just make good choices and follow Gods laws you will have a good life and its your own darn fault if your to stupid to do what God has layed out for us to do in order to be blessed in this life….
    I know this is not true, and you would think i could stop thinking this way after adopting 2 special needs girls, working with the pregnancy center, being friends with an ex prostitude, and working in the inner city but its so hard for me to not look at all the stupid choices made that led to that. God put his rules there to protect us! why cant people just follow them.
    Please dont hate me…I know that this is a wrong way of thinking, but Im sad to admit it is the way of thinking that comes naturally to me.
    Not that I “hate” those who are suffering, its just that I feel so helpless and wish so much that they would have saved themselves and others the pain by following Gods law.
    I also know many are innocent, did nothing to deserve the fate they have.
    just taking a good look into my heart and the truth is I naturally fall into the Javert way of thinking. slowing being converted to a Jean ValJean…..

    I feel my shame inside me like a knife
    He told me that I have a soul,
    How does he know?
    What spirit came to move my life?
    Is there another way to go?

    Its a fine line. loving the person but hating the sin. they get so jumbled up. I think for my its making sure my eyes are wide open to my own sin and half closed to the sins of others.
    been VERY sick for 2 days, fever, sore throat, stuffy….have to go to work in 10 min….its going to be a long 6 hours 🙂

    1. Great post, cyndi. Love it AND you! Not only do loving the sinner/hating the sin become jumbled up, my thoughts about all these are jumbled up. Compassion for people who are messed up for whatever reason, wondering if we can expect people to take ANY responsibility (it’s hard when they don’t if you have to live/work with them). So let’s say I’m hiring. I don’t mind giving people second chances, but I hate it when I’ve hired someone who was recommended as competent who barely does anything. I don’t like it when people make stupid choices, but when they make REALLY stupid choices and the results severely affect me, I’m not a happy camper. I can handle some less than good work if people SHOW UP/ do SOMETHING.

      And I’m not so sure how this all relates to showing mercy.

      1. Cyndi…Get Well quickly…Praying for you!

    2. Cyndi,
      We love you! And, I think if we are all honest (ok, I’ll speak for myself) – we all have some Javert inside us. I know I do when I forget to look back at where I came from.

      1. I agree…every time I make a snap judgment of another without knowledge of the shoes they walk in or have walked in…Lord, forgive me, I’m acting as Javert.

  31. Mom, we should go see the new Les Miserable movie together. 🙂

    Just so you ladies know I have registered for a DivorceCare group for Separated and Divorced people at a local church. It’s Tuesday evenings. Now, just need to find transportation there.

    Krista

    1. Hi Krista,
      I noticed you posting…it is good to have you here. I’m so sorry that you even have to go to this care group, but I’m glad they are there to help. I’ll pray for the transportation, too – perhaps you’ll meet someone at the group who can help out.
      You remain in all of our prayers…

    2. Hi Krista,
      Good to have you back again!

    3. Sounds like a good idea to go, Krista…praying for you

    4. Way to go Krista. Praying that it will be of some help to you.

      1. Thank you ladies. I’m so glad I can be here again. You are all so encouraging to me! 🙂

  32. I finally got the old 97 version from the library–I saw it in the theater, my brain needs a refresher before commenting—so I’m skipping ahead to #6.
    6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year?

    Honestly, I mostly pray-as-I-go. I don’t have set rules—some pg-13 movies don’t make my cut, other “R” movies do. I do have a strong conviction in me about things and I listen to that. I prefer biographical movies, so those usually have heavier material. Still there are some, that I know I can’t watch because for whatever reason they grip me too deep and I get pulled into a pit. I know this isn’t what we’re talking about, but just saying there are a lot of variables for me with media! I have a family history of depression, and I just have to watch my emotions sometimes. Some material is just too heavy on my soul—I can’t detach enough, if that makes sense!

    Language is also something I’m very sensitive to-always have been, don’t know why, and sometimes I really wish I wasn’t—but words (either read or heard) tend to get stuck in my head and then–more readily come out…so it’s best for me personally to not see movies/read books with a lot of language—but that’s just a quirk about me, not a judgment call I’m making. I guess my point is I think it is somewhat of a “gray” Rom. 14 area—and believe this is a matter of personal conviction, not black and white. And I really can’t make a blanket statement. For someone who LIKES black and white, it’s rare I say that—but media is one area I do.

    1. Totally resonate with your post, Elizabeth. I deleted some stuff from my post about why I avoid some reading. Having awful scenes burned into my brain from a book I read 25 years ago is a powerful reminder.

      1. Thanks, Renee. If you can believe, I actually deleted some of my spiel before posting. It’s a tough one-and once you mentioned old memories, I thought about how a few movies I saw just clips of as a kid (youngest of a large family)–I still have awful images in my mind. Some though are emotional content..anyway, thanks for understanding me 😉

  33. Thank you Susan. 🙂 I finally have Internet again. New apartment, more space for my boys, hopefully will be able to have them more. It’s so much nicer here!

    1. oh Krista–so glad to see you here. I will pray for the DivorceCare group–is that part of the Celebrate Recovery ministry? I’ve heard great things about that. Praying for you, Jeff, your boys.

      1. I’m not sure, Elizabeth…possibly. I have heard of that. This is what it is:
        http://www.divorcecare.org/

  34. how I decide what to read/watch

    Don’t watch much. No cable and limited reception, and I don’t know the schedule. Rarely go to movies, and mostly watch DVDs at other peoples’ houses. Haven’t had my player hooked up since 6 months ago when I moved the TV.

    I tend to read everything stuck in front of my face, but I do make SOME choices. I read multiple kinds of fiction and nonfiction.

    I’ve read some amazing books from evangelical authors, and some lousy ones. I don’t read the Christian version of pop psychology anymore (I’d consider one if I thought it was decent though). I’d rather read original social science info than what is watered down and then has Bible verses attached (not always appropriately). On the other hand, I do appreciate authors who are well read and develop a Christian approach from the ground up. I used to be afraid to read some of them. Now I just choose to read more slowly if they are hard. And by reading those authors, they now seem easier to read. Also read books that have been recommended to me (sometimes good, sometimes I wonder if the person knows me very well)

    I have several books by the same authors on my shelves and piles (Dee, you’re one of them!). Once I have someone or a topic in my brain, I often see them when I’m not looking. If the book is expensive and I really want it, I pay close attention to reviews. I’ve stumbled into some amazing, little known books by semi-well-known evangelical authors on clearance sections in Half Price bookstores. However, I wouldn’t call Os Guinness, N. T. Wright, or even Yancey as those that fit some superficial evangelical stereotype (and the family business of one of those authors wouldn’t fly in legalistic churches anyway).

    Most recently, I’ve sought out (Christian) authors from/about other cultures, and am reading from IVP, “Misreading Scripture through Western Eyes.” And when I went to Midday Connection to listen to Dee around Christmas time, I also listened to someone who talked about Christmas from the perspective of Middle Easterners. I might try to find one of his books, because the info seems to have huge implications for how we interpret Scripture.

    IWe don’t have a Christian bookstore here, and the books I like most aren’t necessarily the ones I’d find in one anyway. So, no danger of confining myself to evangelical authors. But also no hard and fast goals regarding reading (I do want to read some books again, including Idol Lies). Might be a good idea to make it a goal to read fewer books, but I don’t intend to do that.

    Quote from Keller: “When you listen and read one thinker, you become a clone… Two thinkers, you become confused… Ten thinkers, you’ll begin developing your own voice… Two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise.”

    Unfortunately, some authors I read aren’t thinkers.

    Unrelated comment: Dee, I thought it was funny when you talked about not raising children to sit in the house and judge people who did the “five wrong things” because I counted, and my memorized list IS 5 things: Don’t drink, dance, smoke, play cards or go to movies. I think it’s because they all lead to sex.

    1. Renee–So agree with your thoughts on “Christian-ized” pop psychology. I really appreciate what I find on CCEF

      1. Yes, I like CCEF, too! It is solid. I even like some “regular” psychology. What I don’t like is when fluff or old ideas, that for good reason, have been semi-rejected by “regular” psychology get Bible verses attached and then provided to the general evangelical audience as something brand new and credible. I don’t even like it when “good” psychology has Bible verses attached and is presented to a Christian audience as something original.

        Years ago, in one of the first couple years I was here, I was frustrated with Christian-ized (good word!)pop psychology books, and said in class (completely tongue in cheek), “If you want to make some money, take some psychology ideas, attach Bible verses, and throw them into a book.” A Christian student came up to me after class wondering more about how to do it! I’ve been more careful about wise cracks in class ever since.

  35. 5. Comment on the above.

    I agree that we should be concerned about offensive elements in movies and books…if offensive elements are offensive for offensive sake, then the movie or book isn’t for me, but as mentioned, sometimes the offensive elements are truly part of “real life” and to withhold them would be untrue…”Sarah’s Key” and “The Kite Runner” both come to mind. Both are fictional stories set in real life events…both having offensive portions that makes one’s stomach lurch to think of the abuse…the offenses described did actually happen…similar to “Roots” and “The Hiding Place”. We can’t and shouldn’t hide from these truths.
    I agree that not everything is appropriate for all ages…a child’s maturity should most definitely be considered in decision making of what they are being exposed to.
    I am also in agreement that God works through any one He chooses to, Christian or not, and we should not limit our selection of entertainment solely based upon whether an author, actor, director, etc. is Christian.

    6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year?

    I am pretty picky about what I watch and read…I like to learn; I like information/entertainment I’m taking in to expand my mind and/or heart. I will not waste my life watching violent, over-sexualized, man bashing, family or female degrading, etc. dramas, sitcoms or books…there is just way too much good stuff out there to settle for less.

    I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction; Christian and non-Christian authors. Biographies are a favorite, especially if a person I deeply respect. I really like fiction based upon real-life/times…Tessa Afshar’s “Pearl in the Sand” is an example. Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts” is a favorite, as is “Promise Me” by Richard Paul Evans. I’m much more of a reader than a movie/television watcher. Sometimes my girls suggest movies for me to watch…some, like the “Lord of the Rings” series, I surprisingly really enjoy, others don’t make it much past the beginning.

    I believe that young minds…and those not so young…:) can be awfully impressionable; I would much rather expose myself to something that will “feed” me or give me “food for thought” rather than something that has the capacity to wreck havoc in my life.

    I don’t have any plans of changing my criteria for books and movie/television watching; my being picky about what a read and watch has worked well for me…I only have so much time and I want that time well spent.

    1. Nanci, wish I could delete my answer and just say “ditto” to yours–although I don’t read as much as I’d like to, and I never seem to get to fiction, though I enjoy it so much more than the parenting ones on my shelves 😉 Appreciate all you said.

    2. oops…my being picky about what I read and watch …

      1. Thank you for your kind words, Dee…I hope you enjoy the sample chapters. “Pearl in the Sand” is a fictional rendition on the story of Rahab with accurate historical facts. I heard Tessa Afshar interviewed; she explained that she did an in depth study to get the history/culture/etc. correct. “Promise Me” is just good, romantic fiction.

  36. I’m watching the musical stage version and just heard “I dreamed a dream” for the first time. Oh my…it brought me to tears. That is my life right now…though I have God to lean on, and in Him I have my peace.
    But still, that song…truly touched my heart.

    There was a time when men were kind
    When their voices were soft
    And their words inviting
    There was a time when love was blind
    And the world was a song
    And the song was exciting
    There was a time
    Then it all went wrong

    I dreamed a dream in times gone by
    When hope was high
    And life worth living
    I dreamed that love would never die
    I dreamed that God would be forgiving
    Then I was young and unafraid
    And dreams were made and used and wasted
    There was no ransom to be paid
    No song unsung
    No wine untasted
    But the tigers come at night
    With their voices soft as thunder
    As they tear your hope apart
    And they turn your dream to shame
    He slept a summer by my side
    He filled my days with endless wonder
    He took my childhood in his stride
    But he was gone when autumn came
    And still I dream he’ll come to me
    That we’ll live the years together
    But there are dreams that cannot be
    And there are storms we cannot weather
    I had a dream my life would be
    So much different from this hell I’m living
    So different now from what it seemed
    Now life has killed
    The dream I dreamed.

    1. I weep with you, Krista. I almost hoped you would not watch this movie, because I knew it would be so hard for you to watch. I pray that the dream you have lost will one day be replaced by a dream from God that is deeper and truer than you possibly could imagine. I love you.

      1. Thank you, Mom. I love you too. Really, I am fine. I’m leaning on God completely. This song definitely touched me, though.

  37. I’ve heard this song before, but tonight in a way it made me think of Jeff…
    Here’s part of the song. So touching:

    On my own
    Pretending he’s beside me
    All alone
    I walk with him till morning
    Without him
    I feel his arms around me
    And when I lose my way I close my eyes
    And he has found me

    In the rain the pavement shines like silver
    All the lights are misty in the river
    In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight
    And all I see is him and me forever and forever

    And I know it’s only in my mind
    That I’m talking to myself and not to him
    And although I know that he is blind
    Still I say, there’s a way for us

    I love him
    But when the night is over
    He is gone
    The river’s just a river
    Without him
    The world around me changes
    The trees are bare and everywhere
    The streets are full of strangers

    I love him
    But every day I’m learning
    All my life
    I’ve only been pretending
    Without me
    His world will go on turning
    A world that’s full of happiness
    That I have never known

    I love him
    I love him
    I love him
    But only on my own

    1. Krista, you are growing closer and closer to the Lord through your pain and sorrow. I’m so sorry you have to go through this tho.

      1. Thank you Joyce. You are VERY right. I truly am growing closer to God through all of this. I have never felt such joy and hope in my life, even with all that is going on. I am LOVED by God, He is my Abba Father, and He holds me near. I can trust Him, COMPLETELY!

  38. Last week, Elizabeth (right? maybe someone else?) mentioned having difficulty focusing on the movie itself because of experience on stage. During the movie, I was struck by how distracted (and “convicted”) I was by something in the movie. The first thing I said when I got out was “I really do need to get to the dentist.” That still is #1 on my list for behavior change related to this movie … and it sounds horrible. When my mom was alive, I felt as if I sometimes did what I “had to do.” It seemed higher priority to take care of my her than myself, and the last time I went to the dentist was when I took her; I didn’t realize until a few months ago that I had been in an exhausted daze for a long time. Yet in many ways, it is so related to the movie. As resources (emotional as well as financial) dwindle, we give up what we once thought was essential. In the movie (and in reality), when people are fighting to survive, values become more obvious — e.g., Fantine’s concern for Cossette, Valjean rescuing Marius for Cossette.

  39. 5. Comment on the above.
    6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year?

    I agree with most of what Dee said. When I go to a movie, I like to feel like I am being entertained. With the Hollywood type movies and TV shows, unfortunately they are getting move graphic in their violence, language and sex, which completely turns me off, even if it is incorporated into the story. I am disappointed to see comments from some actors who think that nudity should be “normal” in anything. TV shows are starting to cater to the lowest level. I really like mysteries, however TV shows that are into solving a mystery start off interesting, then they digress into graphic scenes at which point I quit watching. I don’t go to many movies, they are expensive and I am okay with waiting until they are out on DVD. I don’t think I have a specific criteria, but there are certain actors I don’t like, I don’t like anything that involves vampires (books, movies or tv). I do watch action movies (I have a teenage boy), I also watch romantic type (with my daughter), but I personally prefer some scifi, mysteries or history type. I do like Grisham type books and movies.

    My criteria for what I watch has been changing, I am more conscious of what the show is about, I start asking myself why am I watching this. If I am watching because I enjoy the show (and the content is okay) then it’s probably okay to watch. Unfortunately, I also watch shows just because they are on, as a distraction or just to veg. It is the latter that is starting to cause me to second guess whether I should really be watching or not. I am starting to see that I probably watch too much. I don’t have to really think about anything when I am watching a show and that’s probably why I should watch less. Oddly, if I watch a show and then it starts to become sexual, then I quit watching, but if there is violence I seem to be okay, only when it starts being graphic then I quit watching. I am not sure why my criteria is the way it is, I assume that God is leading me to look at things from a holiness perspective which should be reducing my watching as I am starting to pay more attention to my viewing habits.

    I used to read more than I have been over the past few years and I am not totally sure why that is and I really should read more and watch less. When I read, I read more christian type books so those then have my brain paying more attention to God, as opposed to when I am watching TV and just shut my brain off. I guess that would also be my goal for this year.

  40. 1. What stood out? The crushing poverty and misery represented by Jean Val Jean and Fontine, because of their own sins and the heartlessness of a cruel culture. It was suffocating and represents the situation of many around the world. BUT the grace shown by the Bishop to Jean Val Jean ‘wrecked’ me. He was ‘purchased’ by one act of lavish grace. Not only did he get to keep the silver instead of being returned to prison, the Bishop lavished upon him the precious candlesticks and called him brother. Like Christ’s one act of grace gives us imperishable riches, the Bishop’s one act gave Jean Val Jean a new life as a wealthy man. (He did, however, violate his parole by disappearing into a new life of kind factory owner and eventually mayor)

    Anne Hathaway’s performance of Fontine’s decline into painful prostitution and her despair was compelling. She did receive her heart’s desire in the end, care for her precious Cosette. On the larger world stage, the Fontines of the US and the world exist because of the heart of the Bride doesn’t break over the things that break the heart of Christ (as Dee said).

    The other powerful contrast for me was the wonderful chance to see the contrast between Jean Val Jean and Inspector Javert’s response to a single act of grace. Jean val Jean received it, was transformed and given new life. Javert could not receive it and it destroyed him. It was a powerful reminder that we must yield to grace, receive grace. We do not deserve the gift of grace and we cannot save ourselves. When we try to earn our own redemption, aren’t we kind of telling Christ that his cross didn’t do the trick for us?

    2. Memorable lyrics…So many lines. In fact, while I have seen the musical on stage several times, the movie allowed me to hear and understand lyrics I had never before heard. It made the experience feel ‘new’ again. My favorite is “Bring Him Home” and I loved the ending when Jean Val Jean reprises that in a prayer to God. (confession: sometimes I pray beginning with those words-in song- ‘God on High, hear my prayer….’ and then sing my prayer , albeit not on key or with a soaring voice.)

    And along with Dee, Jean Val Jean wrestling with whether or not to receive grace, to be “purchased” out of his crime in “Who am I?” and the reprise as to whether or not to let another man be sacrificed for him by false accusation.”

    6. How do I decide what to watch? “Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely….let your mind dwell on these things.” I watch very little TV overall. My choices settle on shows whose worldview is consistent with truth, beauty and goodness. There isn’t much. Downton Abbey is one I enjoy. I just discovered ‘Call the Midwife” set in the East end of London after WWII. Shows that celebrate or elevate sexual promiscuity I simply avoid. Since there is nothing ‘real’ about reality shows, I also avoid those. I would much rather curl up with a book. I avoid shows with stars whose private life celebrates sexual immorality as well. And shows whose world view is ‘godless’ are not my thing. It isn’t that they are necessarily openly or intentionally anti-christian. They simply have no room for the idea of God to factor into their relationships, decisions, etc. Since, my natural drift, as a sinner, is toward sin and away from God, watching some of those shows is like sin crouching at my door.

  41. Welcome C. Marie…loved your comments!

    Also Welcome to Judy and Sandra and Cathy, sorry If I welcomed you twice Cathy…I’m taking better notes now! Love having all of you here with us. And if your just reading along and not wanting to comment, we’d love to have you join in. We are all sister’s here and not judging anyone, but rather learning what breaks God’s heart and praying for God to show us to care about what breaks his heart. (Love that so much, Dee)

    Also, Laura Dancer…I haven’t stopped praying for Sarah…she is always in my prayers:)

    1. Thanks Joyce! You are kind 🙂

  42. 6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year? – Like some of the other ladies, it’s not just cut and dry. I like movies on the Hallmark channel and on Lifetime, but I do enjoy too the real life story type movies though some of those movies have scenes that sometimes make me feel uncomfortable but to relive a life event for a movie it may sometimes need to be in there. I love to read. Always looking at books either on-line or in book stores and what I read the most are christian books and light feel good romance but try to stay away from the “trashy” ones.

  43. Ladies if I can jump in and ask for prayer for my daughter in law. We have been at the hospital since 3 yesterday afternoon as she got induced and after 12 hours her water has finally broke and the pitossin and epideral have been administered finally. Starting to make progress. Praying the rest of the labor and delivery go somewhat quickly for her and all is ok with both. Thank you!

    1. is there a baby yet???

    2. Julie praying for her and the baby…for everything to go well and the baby to be fine…also for the nervous daddy, Kyle!

    3. Logan came into this world at 12:21pm weighing in at 7lbs 4oz but no length yet as they were cleaning him up still when I left. Mom, baby and daddy are all doing fine. Thank you for the prayers.

      1. Congrats Julie! So glad they are all doing well. 🙂

      2. Congratulations, Julie and parents.

      3. Thank you ladies. I’ve loaded some of pictures taken with cell phones on to my facebook page but there will be more added from my camera once I get some sleep.

      4. Congratulations Grandma!!

      5. Praise God…congratulations to all, and welcome to the world, baby Logan.

      6. Julie–SO thankful to hear this!Wonderful praise!

    4. Yay!!! Congratulations Julie!!!! Thank you Lord for keeping these people safe. Thank you for helping them be calm and strong through this difficult time.

  44. Paul and I are reading the book “Redeeming Love” together. it is AMAZING. its very hard to read, very much like Les Mis, the darkness is so ugly. It is a modern day Hosea story, well 1800s, and this man just keeps on loving this woman who is SO unlovable. and as soon as she feels love she runs away. Since I have been sick Paul has taken care of me, he has cleaned the kitchen, organized the mud room, fixed a rotting ceiling in a bathroom….I feel cared for, cherished, like i am not a burden to him for the first time ever when being sick.
    We took a month off TV and are reading together, it has been so good. I can’t believe how much easier it has been to respect him when I am feeling cared for by him. Not that I dont NEED to respect him all the time, its just a LOT easier when im feeling loved 🙂 we have read all the marriage books….love and respect…crazy cycle….sacred marriage….but I see why Jesus taught in parables, a story grips the heart more then all the “self help” books ever could.
    I highly recommend “Redeeming Love”

    1. Cyndi, I’ll write that book down. Hope your feeling better and so glad your hubby is being so sweet while your sick!

  45. Just finished watching the 2010 stage musical, Les Miserables. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!! Wow, just wow. I really want to see the movie now!

  46. 5. Comment on the above.

    I agree it can be a daunting task to decide what is okay and what is not when choosing what to watch; certainly, in some cases the violence, language, or other questionable material seems to be essential to the story. In other cases, it is not necessary to tell the story. I remember watching The Painted Veil. It contained a scene of adultery, which was not “nice”, yet the story of this estranged husband and wife and how their marriage was redeemed was incredible.
    I agree that God can use a story in a powerful way to give us a wake-up call, to open our eyes to show mercy to the unloved, the outcast, the prisoner. I don’t think that a movie must be a Christian movie to send out a powerful message.

    6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year?

    I certainly think we need to carefully consider what to watch/read, because I’ve watched some movies in my past, when I was not a Christian, that I dearly wish today that I’d never seen. You just don’t forget those images; they’re stored in the brain and they tend to invade my thoughts at certain times. I know my areas of temptation and weakness, so I avoid media that would in any way feed them.
    I clearly recall growing up watching a certain soap opera. I continued to watch it after I got married and even after my son was born. One time on the show, one of the characters was shot. I was surprised when my son, age 3 at the time, said the next day, “Grady got shot!” I realized that this was real to him, and I made a decision that day to never watch the soaps again, and I never did.
    I don’t watch much TV anyway; I don’t turn it on during the day. Okay- I actually enjoy watching “Arthur” with my daughter when she comes home from school…I’m glad she still likes it!
    My goal for this year is…I’m trying to read through the Bible from start to finish. I’ve started before and only got so far, so I’m determined this year…I’d also like to read and FINISH a few books – I start a book but never seem to get through the whole thing.

    1. Download the YOU VERSION Bible application on your phone, computer, and/or ipad. You can start a reading plan and this program queues it up for you. It syncs with ALL your computers. AND it can read it outloud to you. This was one of the BEST things I did last year. It helped me achieve my goal to read through the Bible in a year and I DID it. You can start anytime and you can catch up, too. Last year, I did the Mc’Cheyne reading plan . We read through the Old Testament, New Testament and Psalms twice. The fun thing was reading about events in the Old Testament, followed by related readings in the New Testament when it was possible. This year, I am reading the Bible using a Chronological plan.

      1. I meant that we read through the Psalms twice. The OT etc just once.

      2. C. Marie -I too love the You Version App It allows so much flexibility and the reminders to catch up if I miss a day or two help as well. I especially like the read a Bible in a year “CCV” because it is Mon-Fri allowing weekends for your readings to be based on your Pastors directives and/or cath up time from the week.

      3. Thanks for telling us about this you version…I really love it!

  47. I asked my oldest son who is still home from college to go with me to see Les Mis – we are going tomorrow afternoon!

    1. Great!

  48. MONDAY: How Do You Decide What To Watch or Read — and what not to?
    5. Comment on the above.
    I love the observation on “Les Mis”, secular movies vs Christian based.
    I love documentary movies and I like well made movies like “Lincoln” that are based on historic moments in our country.
    I have HBO because they do have real good documentaries. But alot of their series are to vulgar and I won’t watch them.

    I really agree with this statement about Christian films,

    “So many of them whitewash life or make Christianity seem like it is all about us — that God exists to help us, that He revolves around us instead of we around Him. This life isn’t just about making our own lives better but about caring about the things that break God’s heart!”
    I so appreciate that statment! I really don’t care for alot of the Christian based films out their because for me, they are too cheesey!

    Life is raw, hard and sometimes cruel. We dont live in a “Leave It To Beaver” society.
    We live in a society that is trying to indoctinate our kids. Trying to tell teach a new definition of marriage, that abortion is a right. And that is only two examples.

    What I appreciate about the movie “Les Mis”, is the rawness of the characters. The goodness that was seen in Valjean. It really is the best movie I have seen!

    6. How do you decide what to read and what to watch? Do you have any goals for this New Year
    My goal is to limit the news and Facebook. seriously!
    Now that I’m in school and trying to workout four days a week, plus work a full time job and have precious time with my grandson , Asher. I think I could meet that goal!

    1. Good for you, Laura Marie!!!

    2. Wow, Laura, that’s a full plate…way to go!

  49. 7. Is there a lyric from Les Mis that particularly impacts you? If so, share it. (Many of the songs are available on You-tube.) Why did it impact you?
    This one is too hard for me to answer since I have not had a chance to see the movie and probably wont’ be able to for a while so I will just stick to reading and smiling at other peoples responses.

    8. In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

    A. Do you agree or not? Explain.
    Nope…and in all honesty, my first thought was more of a judgement, I wondered what Bible she was reading. Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” I don’t see anywhere in that passage (or others) that makes a condition of our forgiveness that the other person repents. Quite honestly, if I hadn’t gone through the painful process of forgiving anyone who had hurt me but never apologized, then I would be one very bitter woman. My holding a grudge and not ever letting it go until that person had apologized to me would only be detrimental to my life. I doubt very much that the people who have hurt me the most ever even think about it or even think they did anything wrong.

    B. How would the story in Les Mis refute that?
    I haven’t seen the entire story so I should probably remain silent on this one.

    C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented?
    Before. He saw his son in the distance and ordered the party for him before the son uttered a word. I suspect the son had been forgiven long before the father even saw him, otherwise he would not have reacted with such joy at seeing his son.

    D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?
    This is a hard one to answer as I suspect it would be different for each person…although having been through this myself it is hard period. I personally have had to go through this process a few times, with different people. The process of getting to the point of forgiveness was different each time.

    The two that stand out are my ex and a guy I used to work with. With my ex that one was about a 5 year process and the Lord used Lot’s wife to remind me. Every time I would start to think about the “stuff” my ex did, a quiet voice in my head would say “remember Lot’s wife”. It wasn’t that I looked back with longing, but that when I dwelled on the events in question that the Lord was telling me that if I am focused on those then I can be as useless as a pillar of salt and can’t move forward…and He wanted me moving forward. That took a long time, but the Lord was patient with me and guided me through and eventually the thoughts were fewer and further in between. The other big one was a guy I used to work with grabbed me and shook me. That one was harder for me even though he had to find another job and I had to go and talk it through with a counselor and I am still not completely sure that I have worked that one through totally. I am pretty sure I have forgiven the former coworker, but I had a really hard time with the other guys in the office who thought I should have just gotten over it and kinda resented the fact that I made them choose who was going to continue to work there as I insisted that it would not be both of us. I eventually left that company as I couldn’t deal with the stress anymore, so like I said, I think I have worked through it all but I really hope I didn’t just work through part and bury the rest.

    In both cases I did give God a list of what I thought should happen to both…He listened, let me vent, possibly even chuckled at my suggestions, but didn’t use any of them. That’s okay as I reached the point where I could honestly ask God not to hold anything they did to me against them in the judgement. I figure that they will have enough to account for if they are not saved before they stand before Him that they don’t need what they did to me on top of that. Also, since I am aware that God doesn’t prioritize sins, then the things I am responsible make me just as guilty a sinner as they. Since Jesus had nails hammered into his hands and feet and took the weight of all mankind’s sin on His shoulders, if He doesn’t hold onto what my sin did to Him, then I shouldn’t hold onto the sin of others to me…but I will definitely say that from my weak human perspective, some things are easier to forgive than others. Jesus has a whole lot more grace and mercy than I do on this stuff.

    I also think that it is a life long process to NOT turn and think about those offenses again. I used to find that if I spend any amount of time looking at the past offenses, they can bring emotions up that are really in the past. I wonder if part of the “forget” process is acknowledging the events of the past but not spending any time with them, detaching the pain of the event from the event itself. These days I can look back without the emotion, but I think to look back is to give those things power and the real power is from the Lord and He wants me looking where I am going, not where I have been.

    1. Mary, loved your comments….you’ve come a long ways!

    2. I appreciate your words, Mary. You obviously have worked through a lot. There is much to ponder here.

      1. Looking forward to it.

  50. 8. In the Dec 2 issue of World Magazine, Janie B. Cheaney wrote an article saying (if I understood her correctly) that we are only called to forgive the repentant.

    A. Do you agree or not? Explain.
    In General, I really like Janie Cheaney so I was surprised to be a bit bewildered by her article. TO give her the benefit of the doubt, I am going to conclude that she is defining her terms differently than I might. I think she may be equating the Navy Seal’s family’s quick decision to forgive with someone who refuses to grieve the loss of loved because somehow they conclude that grieving shows a lack of faith. Is it really forgiveness if you haven’t weighed the injury that needs to be forgiven? Have we really come to grips with the loss of a loved one if we haven’t grieved? I think she is reacting to the kind of cheap forgiveness that becomes expected, that doesn’t weigh the cost.

    Where I differ is that most of my forgiving occurs without the awareness of the one I am forgiving. I believe that a decision to forgive as a matter of practice is a Christian discipline. As Martin Luther says, “the Christian life is repentence.” It should be constant, frequent. So should forgiveness be…a matter of extending grace, not because I can extend it personally, in my own strength, but because Christ forgave my sins with the sacrifice of his life.

    C. Did the father in the story of the prodigal sons forgive his younger son before or after he repented? The Father not only forgave the prodigal son before he repented but he was constantly on the look out for him, longing for his return.

    D. How it it even possible to forgive one who is not repentant?
    Because it isn’t about the other unrepentant person. It is about my relationship with Christ. If Christ forgave my sins, of which I am unaware and unrepentat, can I deny that his Cross hasn’t already covered the sins of those who injure me? If, however, I don’t perceive my sin as all that big a deal, then I can deny forgiveness to someone who has done the unforgiveable. If our eyes are on our injury then it is impossible to forgive…..great evil has been done. Unspeakable things. They don’t DESERVE forgiveness. And they don’t. But if my eyes are on Jesus, I can remember that no one DESERVES forgiveness and yet, Jesus forgave and paid. My desire is for nothing to come between me and my Lord, and nurturing an injury does.

    9. Gary Haugen says that idolatry and injustice are the two things God hates most. In the message you will hear by Haugen this week, he takes us to Psalm 10. Read Psalm 10.

    A. How are those who commit injustice described in verses 8-11? They are predators, looking to attack the weak.

    B. What kind of injustices in the world come to mind by the above description? immigrants , young girls sold into sexual slavery in other countries, foster children in the US unleashed on the streets of our cities at age 18 with few choices, the elderly without family, a cultural message that encourages people to rely on anyone but God for their well-being…I could go on.

    C. What does the psalmist tell us about God according to Psalm 10:14-18? God sees. He will restore Justice.

    Haugen asks, “What is God’s plan for rescuing the oppressed?” His answer: We are. There is no Plan B. I’m eager for you to hear him tell his story, for I think it will encourage you with what can be done.

    I love that. “We are” God’s plan to restore justice.

    1. Wow, C. Marie..I do love reading your posts..I do hope you stay with us. I like what you said about cheap forgiveness without weighing the cost..and how you handled what Janie Cheaney said.

      1. lol Dee we must have been writing this at the same time-I promise I didn’t read your post first! 😉