Recommendations (September 2018)

Periodically, we ask our contributors to give us recommendations for books, music, movies, and podcasts. Here are some of those recommendations! Enjoy!

Morgan Pitts

Watch: Christopher Robin
Winnie the Pooh was so much a part of my childhood that this film was like experiencing deep nostalgia in the best way possible for 104 minutes. There were moments when I actually laughed out loud in the theatre, and moments when I turned to see my husband with tears in his eyes. There is much to love about this film, but I think I most enjoyed its simplicity. The story is uncomplicated and balances bitter and sweet in a beautiful way.

Read: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
I read Sing, Unburied, Sing in January and still find myself thinking about the characters and the story regularly. This book is a piece of art, written in beautiful lyrical prose that reads like music. The story is difficult in places, but I think that is the beauty of this book. The characters were complex and infuriating and brave, and at the end of the book, I realized the gift of this read is a type of empathy. (As a side note, this is an adult read. There are references to difficult, adult topics, as well as “magical” or “mystical” religious leanings. I do not think these should keep you from engaging with this fantastic read, but a word of warning may be appropriate.)

Listen to: Dwell
I can’t recommend this app highly enough. Dwell has been incredibly helpful to me in how I engage the Word in my daily life. The app is beautifully designed with such attention to detail. The voices are unique and the speakers’ love for Scripture pours through their reading of it. The artwork for passages of scripture and playlists is lovely to look at as well, and the background music (which can be muted if you prefer) helps to keep me engaged in the story. I’ve been listening to Paul’s letters on my way to and from work, often listening to the same book multiple times to get a good feel for the flow and context of the writing. Here is the link to Dwell in the App Store. If you’re an Android user, Dwell is scheduled to be released in the Google Play store this fall. Until then, you can check out Dwell’s website here to stay up to date and listen to some sample passages.  

JR Kerns

Watch: E:60 Pictures - Ryan Leaf
A former second-overall NFL Draft pick, Ryan Leaf played four seasons as a professional football player before retiring. After leaving the game, he became addicted to painkillers. A few years in prison finally helped him get sober, and he now works for Transcend Recovery Community, a program of sober living houses. This documentary was a brilliant display of how someone can use their history of harmful addiction, flip it on its head, and use their experiences to help others.

Read: Fierce Marriage, by Ryan and Selena Frederick
This is a book that I am currently reading. I will admit that I am not the biggest reader, but my wonderful wife brought the authors to my attention through the Fierce Marriage Podcast. I’ve been tremendously encouraged by how they present the gospel as being a central part of marriage, not just a side attraction. So, if you are looking for a good book/podcast to read/listen to with your spouse, check them out!

Listen to: Good News, by Rend Collective
For the past several years I have been a huge fan of Rend Collective's music. This album was yet another reminder of why I like listening them. I’ve always enjoyed their Irish Folk style, but more importantly, they write their songs with strong roots in Scripture. Listeners will experience a wide range of emotions: they may find themselves smiling as they sing along with songs of celebration and victory, or crying out in a song of lament with "Weep With Me."

Josiah Pitts

Watch: Lincoln
Though it released in 2012, I have a feeling that this film will be relevant, timely, and moving for decades to come. Over the course of 150 minutes, Steven Spielberg masterfully tells the story of President Lincoln’s frenzied attempt to pass the 13th amendment near the end of the Civil War. A landmark performance by Daniel Day-Lewis makes Abraham Lincoln feel as if he were still alive today. In these days of cutthroat politics and constant outrage, we would all benefit from emulating a man like Lincoln.

Read: Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, by S.C. Gwynne
Though Stonewall Jackson chose the wrong side in the Civil War, his life was a case study in the astonishing. This biography details his career as an instructor at the Virginia Military Institute, and his eventual rise to the status of legend as a general in the Confederate Army. Whether or not Civil War history interests you, this book is an excellent read. I have no doubt that you’ll find yourself drawn into the life of this quiet, devout, duty-bound man. (Side note: I actually listened to this book on Audible - it’s great for long drives.)

Album: Resurrection Letters, Vol. 1, by Andrew Peterson
Andrew Peterson is one of the finest songwriters of our day. He has a way of crafting Scripture and story together that is positively magical, memorable, and moving. Resurrection Letters, Vol. 1 is actually just one album of a three-part series that all flow together to tell the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Though Easter might be a few months behind us, as Christians we are always celebrating the resurrection - and these songs provide one of the best ways to do so.