Posted in theology

Best of the Summer

By Elizabeth Prata

This is my last day of summer. In fact, yesterday really was. Today I have a church event for 2/3 of the day. And tomorrow is the Lord’s Day.

It was a good and relaxing time of peace and quiet. I work 190 days a year in school, spread out, but the summer is the longest break educators have. I try to put the time to Godly use, making the most of my singleness. (1 Corinthians 7:32).

I had some goals I’d set out in May at the last day of school/first day of summer. I think it’s good to set goals. Reagan Rose of Redeeming Productivity has a lot of helpful essays and podcasts teaching how to be productive, if you’re interested. My father always used to say “A body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest.” (Newtons’ First Law of Thermodynamics). And boy is that true of me and my flesh! It doesn’t want to do anything. That is why I set goals. AN unmet goal drives me crazy and being driven crazy keeps me in motion.

I’ve read some books that were good, some that were bad, some that were forgettable, and some that were unforgettable. Two of them in the unforgettable category have been

From Death to Life: How Sanctification Works, by Allen S. Nelson IV. Fantastic book.

Internet Inferno: A Contemporary Warning and Reminder Regarding this Ancient Truth – “The Tongue is a Fire, the Very World of Iniquity, and is Set on Fire by Hell” James 3:6,” by Michael John Beasley. Digestible and convicting treatment on social media and the Christian.

And now this summer I add a third book in the unforgettable category: Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament by Mark Vroegop. It’s not a surprise to anyone that times we live in are bringing much sorrow, grief, and confusion. I was asked if I had written any blogs on how to biblically lament. I hadn’t but it was a GREAT question I sought to rectify immediately. I “happened” to have Vroegop’s book on lament, so I read it and wrote a three part series. Vroegop’s book was helpful in understanding the elements of lamenting, how complaints can be OK (with a caveat), and how through grief, we can trust.

I love the Puritans and I love studying about them. At Media Gratiae (The Means of Grace) they have some wonderful documentaries, and of course essays, podcasts, and a store. For my summer gift to myself, I bought the Documentary Puritan in streaming form. It’s a 2-hour documentary, and includes 35 different, shorter lessons focusing on various Puritan man, women, and topics.

I watched 21 of the short bios, I have 15 more to go. So I didn’t quite make it through all of them but I watched 2/3 of them and found the videos edifying. I loved them. I’ll continue.

I did finish my Institute for Church leadership course at The Master’s Seminary (online). The course was Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, with John Street. Those videos were sprinkled in with the Puritan ones, so having both those goals going on at the same time seemed to be a bit much for my poor brain to take in.

Open Hearts in a Closed World (OHCW) is an online conference founded by Brooke Bartz. Over the 3 years since the conference was founded, we’ve been blessed by music from CityAlight and The Master’s University Praise Band, hosts such as Media Gratiae, the Master’s Seminary and American Gospel TV, and from teachers such as Susan Heck, Brooke Bartz, Erin Coates, and Martha Peace. That’s quite something!

The theme this year for year 3 was “Spiritual Sisterhood: Going Beyond the Facade“.

I like all the teaching from everybody on the schedule that Brooke presents to us. It’s all good. This year Martha Peace’s teaching stood out to me. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and educational time. Her video is here. It is called “Developing Godly Character.”

Our church watched the 2019 documentary American Gospel 2: Christ Crucified. It’s a PHENOMENAL documentary. The film is a masterpiece of truth, and a hugely beneficent gift to the church. SO many of us were edified, left revived with gushes to share with family and friends, convicted over our sins, unified in our understanding. THANK YOU, Director Brandon Kimber! The film’s blurb says:

“The gospel message of “Christ crucified” has always been offensive. In our culture it is common for preachers to soften the offense of the cross, and the attributes of God that are displayed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. “American Gospel: Christ Crucified” explores how the paths of post-modernism and progressive Christianity lead to a different gospel, and a god created in our own image.
“But we preach Christ Crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness…” (1 Cor. 1:23)”

  • We often hear the phrase, “Jesus died for our sins.” What does that mean?
  • Is the God of the Old Testament the same as the God in the New Testament?
  • Did God the Father kill Jesus?
  • Can a loving God also express wrath?
  • Why is hell necessary?”

The pacing, the graphics, the interviewees…all so fantastic. Going through those complex doctrines together is so helpful for our church and progresses us toward not only unity among ourselves (which is GREAT) but a growing love for Christ. The day we all watched that together was one of the best days of the summer.

I like to kick back after a day of writing and absorbing Godly content with some good ole TV. I like well-written, well-acted shows, with nice scenery and clean of skin, cleavage, yelling, quick cuts, (the yelling and quick cuts leaves out most cooking competitions), and no profanity. Ha. I’m looking for a unicorn.

Bu unicorns exist. Just not in America. I found three shows I love, one is Japanese and two are Korean.

Old Enough is a long-running Japanese show of many years. Netflix has acquired the latest season. Toddlers aged 3 and up are sent on their first errand alone. They’re told to go to the store to get tofu, or to bring some mandarins to a neighbor down the street or bring Daddy his lunch. At first it seems ridiculous to watch toddlers toddle off into the world alone, crossing streets, having to remember the list of things mommy told them to get (usually two or three). But it turns out that Japan’s cities are designed for pedestrians, set in small communities with small shops, where everyone knows everyone. In addition, a cadre of crew from the show surround the kids in the form of cameramen, and fake pedestrians, gardeners, electrical workers, etc. The child isn’t alone at all. It’s a lighthearted fun, cute show of about 20 minutes each episode. Rated G!

Extraordinary Attorney Woo and Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha are two Korean dramas, or K-dramas in the lingo. I liked Attorney Woo because I like lawyer shows with court cases. It’s interesting to see how Korean courts work. Woo is autistic, and it’s the best show I’ve seen that accurately depicts a life of an autistic person, with all the intentional insults, unintentional slights, marginalization, and difficulties of the autistic person’s life and also the the life of the people around her. Though the show does it subtly and is not the total focus by any means. The show is good at subtlety with developing characters during the season, too. No profanity, skin, sexual innuendo, or really anything to object to. The elderly are honored, the clothes cover, education is prized, politeness is expected…Ahhhh.

Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is a romantic comedy (subtle comedy, not guffaw har har). A dentist resigns from her big city job in Seoul for various reasons to move to the sticks to open an dental clinic. The show presents the difficulties of changing her mindset from big city, high income, credible reputation to small town community, being involved with people not just patients, and lower reputation (Koreans apparently have a high regard for education and if you attend University you’re expected to do something huge with it). She meets a cute guy who seems to be a simple laborer and she resists on that basis, but learns there’s much more to him along the way and also about life’s priorities.

Netflix has an enormous cadre of Korean shows. You can watch them either dubbed into English or with subtitles.

I’ll Fly Away is simply the best TV show ever made in my opinion. It was SO GOOD it only lasted two seasons. (1991-1993). It stars Sam Waterston pre-Law & Order role. IMDB has the info here.

A reviewer summarized the plot: “This was a sensitive, complex series about a family struggling with the complexities of life in a small Georgia town during the Civil Rights Movement. It was ably acted by the entire cast, beautifully written. Never cloying, always intelligent.” So of course they cancelled it. It is not available on any streaming platform, but as of this writing you can see it on Youtube. The Network did allow for a concluding two hour TV movie to tie up loose ends, which was as expected, well done and satisfying. The entire series plus movie is available below, except for the 1st episode, which you can find as of this writing, below the video below.

Brooklyn Bridge is another well received, well done 1990s series that only lasted a short time Starring Marion Ross (Of Happy Days fame) and Amy Aquino, it is about a Jewish family in Brooklyn in the 1950s. The show evokes a sense of place, atmospheric and full of nostalgia, but more sensitively and realistically than Happy Days did. It’s just a plain old nice show. A Unicorn. On Youtube as well.

baba ganouj: I love making this Mediterranean dip in the air fryer. I let the eggplant cool, scrape the meat out and add lemon juice, tahini (peanut butter of I’m out), salt and blend. A hearty dip or a sandwich spread, it is one of the best things of my summer. After tomatoes!

One day I had too many grapes. So what do I do with them? I roasted them, of course! I figured out that if I roasted grapes the flavor intensifies. I topped my salmon steak with them and it added a sweet-tart flavor and juices that blended well with salmon. A new dish was born!

So that was summer. The best of! I hope you’re enjoying the warmer weather wherever you are and have an opportunity to get out and enjoy God’s green earth.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.