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Kim Davis
On September 3, Judge David L. Bunning jailed Kim Davis, Kentucky's Rowan County Clerk who refused to issue same-sex "marriage" licenses. Davis, an elected official who can only be removed from office by the State legislature, claims issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples per the recent Supreme Court ruling would violate her religious liberty.

The case may represent the first time a Christian has been jailed in America over the redefintion of marriage, but because Davis is a government employee, it's a complicated situation with many angles. Christians are divided on Davis' actions, and the response by authorities. At issue are questions about the nature of religious liberty, the duty of Christians in government, and what godly civil disobedience looks like. We've asked for opinions from top Christian thinkers and gathered them here. At the end, we'll link to some of the best articles as they're released, and we'll be adding new entries here as we receive them, so continue checking back.

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'War Room' Fulfills Its Mission, but It Could Have Done More

image15With a title like “War Room,” you might think that the latest film from the Kendrick brothers would be a story of military successes and failures. Instead, it tells the story of the Jordan family’s everyday battles and the power of prayer in strategically tackling them.

Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer) and Tony Jordan’s (T. C. Stallings) marriage is falling apart. At the start of the film, they’ve practically become strangers to each other and to their daughter, Danielle (Alena Pitts). Each is successful: Tony is a top sales rep at a pharmaceutical company, and Elizabeth is a high-powered real estate agent. However, their fights are petty, and Tony is hostile, along with openly flirting with other women.

Enter Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie). Elizabeth meets the older woman when she comes to sell her house, but she finds much more than a job: Miss Clara teaches Elizabeth how to pray for her family instead of despairing over it.
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Sexual 'Freedom' Depends on the Remaking of Words

2book29“Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is ‘established by the State.’” Justice Antonin Scalia, King v. Burwell

As legal victories go, it was small. On June 22, Judge Robert A. Hendrickson and the 12th District Court of Appeals in Ohio overturned a parking violation. Sixteen months earlier, Andrea Cammelleri had been cited for violating this municipal ordinance:

"It shall be unlawful for any person to park upon any street in the Village, any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle for a continued period of twenty-four hours."

Cammelleri argued that she parked a truck, not a “motor vehicle camper.” The trial court disagreed, stating that “anybody reading [the ordinance] would understand that it is just missing a comma.”
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Marvel’s Film Disappoints with Petty Conflicts and an Underdeveloped Plot

fantastic-four-trailer-5-1422381434Why did the new film version of “The Fantastic Four” crash and burn at the box office this weekend? In a nutshell, it gives us nothing much to enjoy. Some of the old superhero tropes are there, but all the fun and life has been taken out of them. And ultimately, there’s no real reason for the superheroes to do what they do.

The film starts out promisingly enough, with child inventor Reed Richards (Owen Judge) and his big dreams. All Reed wants is to invent teleportation. He’s even got a machine in the works that might be able to do the trick. All he needs is a little power converter thingy here and a touch there and—voila!—just like that, he’s mastered the world’s fastest form of transportation, right there in his parents’ garage. But he’s also managed to kill the power in his entire neighborhood. Clearly, there’s still work to be done, so with his buddy Ben Grimm (Evan Hannemann), Reed sets out to perfect his machine.
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'The Dating Manifesto' Offers a Helpful, Hopeful Picture of Single Christian Life

9781434708878Lisa Anderson's new book, "The Dating Manifesto: A Drama-Free Plan for Pursuing Marriage with Purpose," reads like two books in one. The first book isn't bad, but it's in the second book that the author really hits her stride, giving us the full benefit of her hard-won wisdom.

Anderson is director of young adults for Focus on the Family and host of its radio program/podcast "The Boundless Show." She's also a single woman in her early 40s. This gives her a somewhat unique and very valuable perspective on the young adults she works with, and on what they're going through. "At forty-three and single, I'm right there with you," she writes in the introduction to her book. "I don't have a so-called fairy-tale ending. Quite frankly, I don't know how my story will end; I only know I'm in the race with you -- a few paces ahead, perhaps, but still running."
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How 'The Colson Way' Can Educate and Inspire Millennials

8599_97814002066431Seven a.m. in central Michigan during the school year is a dark and chilly time of day. When I was growing up, there wasn’t much that I liked about it. Including the voice that would talk on my parents’ bedroom radio around that time.

Every morning without fail, that voice would capture the attention of my parents and older brother. But I hardly ever took the time to understand what it was saying. My kid brain began to associate the deep, fast-paced voice with my painful, groggy morning routine, and it stressed me out. I didn’t know who this “Chuck Colson with BreakPoint” guy on the radio thought he was, but he was cramping my fourth-grade style.

It wasn’t until much later that I actually started paying attention to the “BreakPoint Radio” programs when they came on. Too soon after I got over my childhood prejudice, though, the news came that Chuck Colson had died. At that point, the only thing I really knew about him was his voice and something about his involvement with prisons.
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A Lack of Heart Dooms 'Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell'

Hustle-star-Marc-Warren-fantasy-drama-Jonathan-Strange-Mr-Norrell-interview-James-Rampton-577186In his review of Susanna Clarke's bestselling fantasy novel “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” Michel Faber called it “seriously flawed.” He justified this by saying, “This large, loquacious book has nothing much to say,” and “the most worrying weakness . . . is the book’s low emotional temperature . . . basic loves and hates, yearnings, hopes, and sufferings have apparently been magicked into an inaccessible realm.” Similarly, author Gregory Maguire, who reviewed the novel for “The New York Times,” asked, “Has Clarke, bewitched by her own talents, forgotten that readers need to care deeply about the characters?” However, there were some, like acclaimed fantasy author Neil Gaiman, who termed the Regency-era alternate history of magical England one of the best fantasy novels of all time.

Into this contentious landscape comes the BBC miniseries adaptation of the novel, which has just finished airing in the United States and United Kingdom. Its current Rotten Tomatoes audience score is 86 percent, and it holds an IMDB rating of 8.4 out of 10, indicating a high level of enjoyment by many viewers. This satisfaction is understandable. The series retains Clarke’s high quality of writing, as many of the charming idiosyncrasies of her Austen-imitative style as can be conveyed through dialogue and tone, and her humor. Unfortunately, it also retains her novel’s flaws.
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'Paper Towns' Misses the Point of a Failed Teen Romance

Paper-Towns-Movie-PicturesThe trailers for “Paper Towns” lead you to believe Quentin’s (Nat Wolff) love for Margo (Cara Delevingne) is epic. It prompts him to do epic things because she is his “miracle.”

This sort of thing is nothing new, really. I’m a few years past beloved YA author John Green’s target audience, but even in the coming-of-age stories of my day, high school was a little more epic, first love a little more theatrical, and figuring out “who am I?” a little more narratively pat (with a beginning and an end point) than what I actually experienced.

That hasn’t changed in young adult fiction today, and Green’s “Paper Towns”—first a novel and now a movie—is a prime example. Youth is dramatic precisely because young people lack the perspective of experience: They’re doing almost everything for the first time. The best young adult novelists tap into that heightened drama.
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Harper Lee's Controversial Novel Challenges Us to Take Responsibility for Our Own Beliefs

51fGhOk4bLL._SX348_BO1204203200_Go Set a Watchman opens with 26-year-old Jean Louise “Scout” Finch returning to her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama, for a two-week vacation from her job in New York. There, she anticipates spending time with her 72-year-old father, Atticus, her judgmental aunt Alexandra, and her close friend and would-be fiancé, Henry, whom the novel assures us is “one of her people.”

Knowing who your people are, Jean Louise learned while growing up in the Deep South, is integral to who you are and what you believe. This adage will ring even more true when Scout learns some unpleasant truths about the man whom she—like so many of us readers—has adored and looked up to all her life: her father, Atticus.

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'Pixels' Is for '80s Kids Who Are Still Kids at Heart

Pixels-2015-Movie-PhotosOnly sloppy nerds can save the day when giant Pac Man ravages the streets of New York. No, you are not on LSD—this is the premise of a full-length feature film. Adam Sandler in all his glory, complete with five o’clock shadow, bedecked in his shabbiest shorts and polo shirt, strides into the Oval Office, insults the Joint Chiefs, and solves humanity’s problems. Sure, there’s humor, romance, a half-decent plot, and eye-popping ’80s video game action, but “Pixels” sets a record for silliness.

The film focuses on Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), a good, honest, gifted video game nerd who grew up playing Pac Man and has a knack for figuring out the patterns behind old-fashioned pixelated games. Today, he installs your XBox for a living. In short, he's a failure—until his childhood game skills become vital to national security.
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'Mr. Holmes' Gets the Important Things Wrong

mr-holmes-movie“Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell. You have degraded what should have been a course of lectures into a series of tales.” Thus Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson, criticizing Watson’s romanticized accounts of Holmes’s detective work in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.”

In the new film “Mr. Holmes,” an older Sherlock Holmes has this to say: “Death, grieving, mourning—they’re all commonplace. Logic is rare.” “Mr. Holmes” joins the debate that began between Watson and Holmes in Doyle’s stories and has raged through adaptation after adaptation: Human feeling and stories? Or logic? Or more specifically, what should we think about Holmes’s absolute conviction that only the latter should be considered?

Unfortunately, as it attempts to contribute to this debate, “Mr. Holmes” falls flat on its face.
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'Ant-Man' Focuses on Family

antman-scott-lang-and-cassieFor all its spectacle and heroics, more often than not at its core the Marvel Cinematic Universe is deeply concerned with the notion of family. This search for family—and by extension, a sense of belonging and purpose—often finds its initial impetus in the complex relationships between parents and children. From the rivalry of Shakespearean proportions that springs from Loki and Thor’s quest for Odin’s approval, to Tony Stark’s tension-riddled relationship with his father, Howard, these films resonate beyond the spectacle.

The heroes of these films are flawed, and yet these imperfect individuals answer the call to be brave, to stand in the gap for those who cannot defend themselves. “­Ant-Man” is arguably Marvel’s most straightforward examination to date of what drives the unlikeliest—and smallest—of individuals to rise above expectations and assume a heroic mantle of leadership.
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'Trainwreck' Tries to Have Its Cake and Eat It Too

ct-trainwreck-movie-review-amy-schumer-20150713_1After seeing “Trainwreck,” I think Amy Schumer might be the Nora Ephron of our era. Schumer’s brand of romantic comedy is far raunchier than iconic Ephron works such as “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally,” but ultimately explores the same themes, with a similar light touch and optimism for traditional happy endings.

Schumer, who regularly skewers female stereotypes in her comedy, nevertheless in her first screenplay seems to share Ephron’s ideas of what women want. To shamelessly paraphrase “The Dark Knight, Schumer provided the romantic comedy our culture deserves, but not necessarily the one we need.
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'Self/less' Manages to Convey One Memorable Message about What Matters

selfless_2God created man. Man created immortality. --Tagline for "Self/less"

Death has some side effects. --Dr. Albright (Matthew Goode)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, first. The film "Self/less" is really nothing more than a typical, by-rote thriller that barely scrapes the surface of exploring the ethical questions that are its selling point. It is a film that aims higher than it can actually attain with the rather predictable narrative with which it propels itself forward. The ideas—as is often the case—require more time to flesh out and be absorbed by the audience than the average two-hour runtime can afford.

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The Tempting but Frustrating Quest to Make Fictional Worlds Perfect

maxresdefaultSpider-Man is back. For the third time in a little over a decade, the web-shooting superhero is being rebooted for the big screen. After the February 2015 announcement that a deal with Sony would allow the character to finally enter the seemingly all-encompassing Marvel Cinematic Universe, extensive speculation ensued about the tone of the reboot and the actor who would take on the role.

Almost immediately, fans and press entities suggested potential choices, popular options being “Teen Wolf’s” Dylan O’Brien and Donald Glover of “Community” fame. Glover, in particular, garnered support from those who desired to see an African-American or other minority actor in the role. Instead, when Sony and Marvel finally made their announcement in late June, the role had gone to English actor Tom Holland of the critically acclaimed period piece “Wolf Hall.”

For some, the idea of a fresh face with whom many Americans are mostly unfamiliar was a welcome one; for others, Holland’s racial and ethnic similarity to what is perceived as the superhero status quo was deeply troubling, even enraging. The response to Holland’s casting echoed earlier responses to the casting of currently ubiquitous Brit Benedict Cumberbatch as both Star Trek’s Khan and Marvel’s Doctor Strange, roles that many fans and commentators felt should belong to minority actors.

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