Thursday, October 13, 2011

Movie Review: The Visitor

OK, since perhaps you are still reading the book from last week, I'll save some of the other books for later. So how about a movie?

Title: The Visitor
Director: Tom McCarthy
Staring: Richard Jenkins.
Etc: Released 2008, 104 minutes long, PG-13


The film was screened at a lot of film festivals (Toronto, Sundcance, Miami, South by Southwest) and was nominated for quite a few awards (winning several, Jenkins was even nominated for an Academy Award for best actor). It's one of my favorites. As you can see from the trailer, The Visitor is the story of Walter, a professor, who comes to his rarely used NYC apartment to find it's been rented out by a scammer to two young immigrants. Walter begins to form a relationship with them and the story goes from there.

The plot is not exactly twisting, and you pretty much know what is going to happen, but the characters stick with you.

It's a lovely film, and it puts a face and story to immigration policy and the immigrant's struggle--but it's worth your time whether you care about immigration or not!

So do yourself a favor and add it to your Netflix queue, hit up your local movie rental store, or if you are cheap resourceful like me--pick it up for free at your local library (FYI: FW/Haltom City/Abilene all have copies!). 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Christians at the Border

OK, remember last week when I suggested you start slowly with a couple of half-hour podcasts? They were thought provoking, weren’t they?

Well, to up the ante, I am also going to recommend a book by the same person.

Here’s the details:

Title: Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible
Author: M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas)
Page count: 143 pages

Christians at the Border deals most specifically with Hispanic immigration, but can be applied to other aspects of immigration, too. The book is on one hand a more thorough look at the immigration stories and teachings in the Bible, (if the lectures piqued your interest in that area, the book will flesh things out some more). He has two chapters on the Old Testament materials and one from the New Testament which all end with “implications for today” sections. Carroll also deals with some of the main points of contention in the debate over immigration (the impact on national identity and economics) and discusses the impact Hispanic immigration has on American religion. The author gives a good overview of the history of Hispanic immigration in the US, too (which will brings the current immigration discussion into new light).

As far as style, the author has a PhD, but the book is written so that you can all read and understand it (there aren’t a ton of statistics and charts, and he makes an effort to define all his terms). He also helps put a personal face on the issue of immigration. Part of the way he does that is that Carroll himself is half Guatemalan and half Irish-American. One of the things I really appreciated about this book is that Carroll can easily identify with both the majority culture and the Hispanic community.  He takes the heat out of the discussion.

It’s a great place to start thinking about Hispanic immigration from a Christian perspective, or even just from a balanced viewpoint (the chapter on history/economics/American identity is really helpful). There’s also a great appendix with lots of varied resources if you want to start digging deeper.

It’s short, easy to read and practical…but it also pushes you to think outside of the dialogue we are used to hearing in the immigration debate.

Give it a look! (Besides, my mom already ordered the book after hearing the lectures last week. And you know you want to be like her!)

OK, I’ll leave you with the book’s dedication (first to the Hispanic community, and then to the Christian church in the US):

Al pueblo Hispano—
peregrinos en tierra ajena,
artesanos de una vida nueva,
semilla de esperanza—
paz y animo para el largo camino

To the Christian church in the United States:
may we never forget that we are
sojourners in a strange land,
and that among us
there is neither Jew nor Greek

PS. The book has also been translated into Spanish. You can buy it on Amazon and can maybe find it in your local library—I know Hardin-Simmons and TCU have copies.