How to pray

“Be careful not to do good deeds or give charity publicly so you will be noticed. If you do, you will lose your reward from your Father in heaven. Whenever you give anything to a poor person, don’t call attention to the fact like hypocrites do. They announce it in houses of worship and on the streets to call attention to themselves. Truly, that attention is the only reward they will get! Instead, when you help someone out, do it secretly so not even your left hand knows what your right hand is doing. Your Father who sees everything will reward you.

When you pray, don’t act like the hypocrites do, who make sure that they are noticed by standing in houses of worship and on street corners. That attention is all the reward they will get. Instead when you pray, go off by yourself, shut the door and pray to your Father secretly. Your Father who sees everything will reward you.

Don’t repeat the same prayers over and over again, like other people do. They think their prayers will be answered if they repeat them many times. Your Father in heaven knows what you need before you ask him.”

MT 6:1-8

Advertisements

The Varda

The Varda was concerned. It looked out at the scene before it, wasteland, all of it. Stones atop stones atop dry earth. The desolation stretched out as far as The Varda’s eyes could see, and The Varda could see very far – at least on the right side. The left side was nearsighted, but not just in distance.

The Varda had six eyes – two for each head. Each head had different capabilities and most certainly a different personality. The left saw the past, as far back as human history began, but no further. The center saw the present in all its glory and sadness. The right saw the future, shifting and uncertain to human eyes, but solid and sure to The Varda.

The Varda was just that, The Varda. It had no other name. How could it? With three heads and one lion-like body, it was three beings and yet one. This confounded everyone but made perfect sense to it. To name each head was to ignore the very reality of its oneness and unity within itself. It was the very example of cooperation and harmony.

World leaders should have studied it, but didn’t. They might have averted this tragedy.

The Varda was always “it” – never he, or she. How could you determine gender? It did not reproduce, so it had no need for the simple distinctions of gender. The Varda was simply The Varda, and nothing more.

All around The Varda were the cries of pain and confusion. The earthquake had ruined the centuries-old village with its monuments and temples. Shrines were in shambles. Homes were reduced to the clay that they had been built of.

Enough earthquakes had happened in the past three hundred years here that the people had stopped building anything higher than a story for their homes, or out of anything more substantial than packed earth. What was the point? It was easier to rebuild if there was less rubble in the way. Sort out the few meager belongings, set them to the side. Wet the same earth over again, pack it into simple wooden frames, let it set for an hour, pop it out and let it dry. A few days later they could rebuild the house – the same, or different this time. It was like forced redecorating. They had come to accept this as their normal.

It wasn’t normal. It wasn’t normal at all. They couldn’t see this, because of their limited sight. The Varda knew better. With time stretched out before it like a topographic map, it knew the dips and peaks of human history. It knew whether the people it watched were going to have a hard climb up a mountain of difficulty or an easy time of plenty in the valley of content.

Time was flat now, even for The Varda. It didn’t like this, not one bit. In all its aeons of life, it had never felt so blind, so lost. It was missing its one way to guide its people, to keep them safe.

There was no way The Varda could let them know how lost it was. Their pain would only be magnified. It had to adapt, to learn how to see just the now, the present. Right now, all three heads saw only what was in front of them and nothing more.

It had started when the volcano erupted.

Started? Perhaps stopped is better. The three-part vision had turned off silently and slowly, like day fading into dusk. It was so gradual that The Varda didn’t even realize it until its sight was darkness, all flat and senseless. It could see, certainly, but not with the sharpness or meaning or surety that it had known all of its life. This was different.

Now The Varda was just like the people of this land.

Time to rebuild, but this time it would be different. It would have to be.

Movies that are interesting and informative.

The Syrian Bride. (NPL collection)

Mona’s wedding day is the saddest day of her life. She knows that once she crosses the border between Israel and Syria to get married, she will never be allowed back to her beloved family in the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. Once you cross the border there is no way back and at the end of a long day, the family, the government and military officials and all those gathered on both sides of the border find themselves facing an uncertain future, trapped in No-Man’s land between Israel and Syria.

Herman’s House (NPL collection)

Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in America – 40 years and counting in a 6-by-9-foot cell. This award-winning documentary is a moving account of the remarkable expression his struggle finds in an unusual art project. The revelatory installation — featuring a full-scale model of Herman’s cell and detailed plans of his dream home — has brought thousands around the world face-to-face with America’s cruel and unusual punishment: long-term solitary confinement. (description from Amazon)

Arranged. by Zoe Lister-Jones (NPL Overdrive)

Rochel is an Orthodox Jew, and Nasira a Muslim of Syrian origin. They are both beautiful young teachers at a public school in Brooklyn. They also have something else in common – they are going through the process of getting “arranged marriages” through their respective religious and traditional customs. With both family pressure on the one hand, and the rejection of traditional values by the outside world on the other, Rochel and Nasira will have to rely on each other and their friendship to pull through this difficult time of their lives, striving to be strong women in charge of their own happiness, while keeping their deep religious and cultural convictions.

Discover the Gift (NPL Hoopla)

Within each of us, there are special Gifts simply awaiting discovery. The sense of joy, power, fulfillment, freedom, and unconditional love that we experience in our lives is directly related to these Gifts, yet so many of us have yet to unlock their full potential, leaving us longing for a sense of happiness and fulfillment. For sister and brother team Shajen Joy Aziz and Demian Lichtenstein, something was missing in their lives until they tapped into the power of their own unique Gifts, leading to a profound personal transformation that has enabled them to connect to the fullness of life. Their incredible personal journeys of spiritual growth have fueled their desire to share what they have learned and in Discover The Gift, they share their story and take us step-by-step through this journey of discovery which has the power to change not only individual lives, but can transform our entire world.

The Exorcist in the 21st Century (Amazon, NPL Hoopla)

Director Fredrik Horn Akselsen reveals the secret and mystical world of Catholic exorcisms in his documentary THE EXORCIST IN THE 21st CENTURY. In the film, Constanza, a Colombian woman, claims to have been possessed by demons for 15 years and sees the Spanish exorcist as her last hope for spiritual liberation.

Vision (NPL Hoopla)

Hildegard von Bingen was truly a woman ahead of her time. A visionary in every sense of the word, this famed 12th-century Benedictine nun was a Christian mystic, composer, philosopher, playwright, poet, naturalist, scientist, physician, herbalist and ecological activist. Vision is a profoundly inspirational portrait of a woman who has emerged from the shadows of history as a forward-thinking and iconoclastic pioneer of faith, change and enlightenment. (German with subtitles)

The Machine that Made us. (NPL Hoopla)

The printing press was the world’s first piece of mass-production technology. Its invention changed the world as dramatically as splitting the atom or sending men into space. It ignited a cultural revolution that shaped the modern age. It changed the way our brains work, replacing a spoken culture with a written one. It is the machine that made us who we are today. Take a trip with Stephen Fry to explore the story of the machine and the man who created it – Johann Gutenberg.

A Will for the Woods (NPL collection)

What if our last act could be a gift to the planet? Musician and psychiatrist Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial in this immersive documentary.

While battling lymphoma, Clark has discovered a burgeoning movement that uses burial to conserve and restore natural areas, forgoing typical funeral practices that stress the ecosystem. Boldly facing his mortality, Clark and his partner Jane have become passionate about green burial, compelled by both the environmental benefits and the idea that one can remain within the cycle of life, rather than being cut off from it. The spirited pair have inspired a compassionate local cemetarian, and together they aim to use green burial to save North Carolina woods from being clear-cut.

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

Justin Duerr is obsessed with uncovering the meaning behind the Toynbee Tiles, an urban phenomenon of cryptic plaques embedded in the asphalt of major U.S. and South American intersections.

The Forgotten Kingdom
Atang is an unemployed, aimless young man who spends his days in the slums of Johannesburg. When his father dies, Atang must give up his selfish ways and fulfill his father’s humble last wishes: to be buried in the rural, mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho.

– On Amazon Prime –

The Way (with Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez)

A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El camino de Santiago” from France to Spain.

With One Voice

With One Voice illuminates the unity of humanity through the single message and mystical tradition that binds all faiths together.

The Monastery and Mr. Vig (True story, no actors)

Jørgen Laursen Vig owns a Danish estate, with a ramshackle castle, on the island of Fyn. He dreams of turning his castle into a Russian orthodox monastery.

The Human Scale

With the majority of the world population in urban areas, architect Jan Gehl is reimagining how to make cities more sustainable and livable. Rather than examining structures, Gehl & his team meticulously analyze spaces where people interact.

The Calling

A story of personal and spiritual fulfillment, THE CALLING follows young Joanna on her journey to self realization.

The Philosopher Kings

In search of wisdom found in unlikely places, The Philosopher Kings takes us on a journey through the halls of the most prestigious universities in America to learn from the staff members who see it all and have been through it all: the custodians.

Buying the Spirit

Beautifully-made with unbelievable access to voodoo practitioners, this film offers an unrivalled insight into this frequently misunderstood religion.

Padre Pio Sanctus

The definitive biography of the saint from Pietrelcina, Italy.

Hildegard

A drama of the life of Hildegard of Bingen – abbess, visionary, playwright, and composer.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon
A drama about the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Frequencies

In a parallel world where human frequencies determine luck, love, and destiny, Zak, a young college student, must overcome science in order to love Marie, who emits a different frequency than his own. This unique and experimental drama blends science fiction and romance to create a futuristic tale where love, science, and fate collide.

Senn

Charles Dickens meets Arthur C. Clarke–A lowly factory worker is delivered from a world of misery and discovers his destiny via an ancient object on the other side of the stars. – – The acting is uninspired, but the story and the photography (setting and special effects) are more than worth your time.

Sometimes in April

(Drama) In April 1994, one of the most heinous genocides in world history began in the African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people were killed in a terrifying purge by Hutu nationalists against their Tutsi countrymen. This harrowing HBO Films drama focuses on the almost indescribable human atrocities that took place a decade ago through the story of two Hutu brothers–one in the military, one a radio personality–whose relationship and private lives were forever changed in the midst of the genocide. Written and directed by Raoul Peck, (HBO Films’ Lumumba) the movie is the first large-scale film about the 100 days of the 1994 Rwandan genocide to be shot in Rwanda, in the locations where the real-life events transpired.

The White Meadows

In this dreamlike film, Rahmat the boatman navigates the brackish waters of a coastal land, collecting the heartaches and tears of its inhabitants. But he remains powerless against their misguided attempts to appease the gods and make the land green again, whether by offering a bride to the sea or forcibly “treating” the eyes of a painter who sees in different colors.

Foreign Letters

In this touching tale of young friendship Ellie, a 12-year-old Israeli immigrant, and Thuy, a Vietnamese refugee, form a powerful bond that helps Ellie cope with the hardships of adjusting to her new life in the states.

The Life and Faith of C.S. Lewis

Narrated by Academy Award-winner Ben Kingsley, this multi-award-winning program is the most complete portrait of the world-renowned author considered by many to be the greatest Christian writer of the 20th century.

Jellyfish

Winner of the Caméra d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, JELLYFISH is a richly imaginative portrait of three very different women emotionally adrift in Tel Aviv. While Batya, a struggling waitress, cares for a mysterious child that appeared to her out of the sea, newlywed Keren nurses a broken leg and a ruined honeymoon and Filipino migrant worker Joy tries to support her son back home.

Dimensions

Love, betrayal and time travel in 1920s England. A brilliant scientist becomes obsessed with revisiting his past – no matter what the cost. Jealousy, desires and greed surround him, clouding his judgement and sending him spiraling towards madness.

Kiss the Moon

In the midst of a rapidly changing Pakistan, three generations of eunuchs bravely unravel the ancient rituals and religious beliefs surrounding their spellbinding community. Could the encroachment of Western conceptions of homosexuality be the beginning of the end for the once-prized eunuchs?

(The majority of the descriptions are taken from the listing)

Tell the truth, go the second mile, and love your enemies.

Tell the truth.

“The Law of Moses also says that you shall not break your vows – you must honor your vows to God. But I’m telling you something deeper – don’t make any vows! Don’t swear by heaven because it is God’s throne, and don’t swear by the earth because it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem because it is the city of David, our great king. Don’t even swear by your head, because you can’t change even a single one of your hairs white or black. Simply let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no’. To say anything more than this is wrong.”

MT 5:33-37

Go the 2nd mile.

“The Law of Moses says ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I’m telling you something deeper – don’t retaliate against someone who does wrong. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn and offer him the other one. If someone sues you to take your shirt away, give them your coat as well. If someone demands that you carry a heavy load for a mile, carry it 2 miles instead. Give to anyone who asks and don’t refuse anyone who wants to borrow something from you.”

MT 5:38-42

Love your enemies.

“You’ve been taught the message ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’ But I’m telling you something deeper – love your enemies and pray for people who persecute you. By doing this you will reveal yourself to be children of your Father in heaven. God makes the sun shine on those who are evil as well as those who are good, and God makes rain fall on the just and the unjust alike. How does it help you if you are nice only the people who are nice to you? Even sinful people can do that. If you welcome only your friends, how are you doing anything different than everyone else? Even people who don’t believe in God do that. Your goal is to be perfect, just like God is perfect.”

MT 5:43-48

Murder begins in the heart

“The Law of Moses says ‘Do not murder,’ and if you do you will face judgment. But I tell you something more – even if you are angry with your brother without reason you will be subject to judgment. Even verbally abusing him and calling him names will get you brought into court. Cursing him will put you in danger of the fires of hell.

Therefore if you are about to give your offering at the altar in the Temple and you recall that someone has something against you, leave your offering before the altar. First you have to go and make things right with him and then come and make your offering. Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way to court, otherwise he might hand you over to the judge and then you’ll get thrown in prison. Trust me, you’ll be stuck in there until you pay every bit of the debt!”

MT 5:21-26

Christ fulfills the Law

“Don’t think that I came to negate the Law of Moses or the words of the Prophets. I did not come to negate them but to fulfill them. Mark my words, not a letter or even part of the letter of the Law will disappear until the reason for the Law is realized. Because of this, anyone who violates even the smallest commandment and teaches other people to do so will be in the lowest position in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever obeys and teaches the commandments will be seen as great in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”

MT 5:17-20