5 things I didn’t like about Star Wars: The Force Awakens


1. Lack of originality

The script is more interested in successfully re-launching a film franchise than it is in offering an enduring original story. Instead it is unabashed in how it borrows from the original trilogy, careless in its dramatic build up and uneven in its character development.

2. Character development

My biggest worry going in The Force Awakens was whether or not JJ Abraham would be able to create a real threat for the next trilogy…although this worry is slightly premature given that the first installment centers in establishing the core characters of the franchise against what basically can be call a stage set (insert your generic threat), it was disappointing the character exposition of Kilo Ren, the main villain. The idea of conflicted and complex Kylo Ren, like many other characters in the Force Awakens is absolutely brilliant but its execution was poor. We only get a poorly constructed scene exposing his conflicted state of mind and nothing that would engender a catharsis towards the character. The same can be said for Finn, one of the new heroes. There was nothing in the script that made me empathized for his hero’s journey. One cannot help but to think of the many ways this could have been easily address but the reality is that it wasn’t, leaving an emotional gap between the audience and the characters.

3. Predictability

The lack of originality sadly translated into a highly predictable plot. This robs its audience of those unexpected moments that thrills you and makes you wonder.

4. No singular moment that made you love the film.

Instead we get a bunch of minor moments that entice you but don’t quite make you think: WOW I LOVE THIS MOVIE. For all their faults all the prequels have such moments. Phantom Menace had the Duel of the Fate, Attack of the Clones had Yoda’s duel against Count Dooku and the Revenge of the Sith had Anakin’s dual against Obi-wan…of course these movies are deeply flaw but at least they have that one moment that made you stand at the edge of your seat.

5. Lack of internal consistency

A few plot devices used in this film are lacking in explanation.  This is a huge distraction since it not only detracted from the characters but the action of the film.  The hope is that they will be explain in future installments otherwise they will  continue to detract from what was a thrilling and fun Star Wars movie.



5 things I loved about Star Wars: The Force Awakens


By now most everyone has seen the Force Awakens and the inter web is full of reviews, comments and criticisms. Here are the five things I like the most about Star Wars, soon to be followed by the five things that I didn’t like about it.

1. The Return of the Force as a cultural phenomenon.

In an age of political tensions and tribe mentality it is refreshing to have a cultural icon such as Star Wars once again at the center of our national consciousness.  One thing that really made an impression on me was seeing families together, full of excitement and anticipation to see this movie, from little kids with their parents to teens and adult children…

Star Wars like many old folk tales reminds us that there is a constant struggle between good and evil and that there are things worth fighting for…


2. The worlds inhabited by the characters

The Force Awakes is a brilliant visual statement that captures the texture and feel of the original trilogy. It imbues a perfect balance between stunning visuals and special effects. It is a great coup for JJ Abraham attention to details and respect for its source material.


3. John Williams Score

Rey theme is just brilliant…what else can be said from a score made by one of the greatest composer of our time?


4. The return of Han Solo.

Harrison Ford brought back to life one of the most iconic character in modern cinematic universe with gusto. His performance as Solo made everything else work in the film…even its weak parts.

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 15: (L-R) Actors Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong'o, Daisy Ridley, director J.J. Abrams of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS and Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn took part today in "Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios" presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

5. The cast

The cast readily complements the script, which is light on its feet, funny and full of thrills. Oh yeah…BB-8 was brilliant!

 What are your favorite things about the Force Awakens?

Merry Christmas!!!

To all my fellow bloggers thank you for the encouragement, lively debates and support that I have received through this past year. It is wonderful to be able to share our thoughts and hopes with the world. My wishes for this Christmas is that the light of the world made flesh may bless you, give you wisdom and illuminate your life with his graces. As Catharine of Sienna once said: be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!

Merry Christmas,



Adeste Fideles

O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold him, born the king of angels.
O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

God of God, light of light,
Lo! He abhors not the Virgin’s womb.
Very God, Begotten not created;
O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him, Christ, the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to thee be all glory given.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him, Christ, the Lord.

There shall we see him, his eternal Father’s
Everlasting brightness now veiled under flesh.
God shall we find there, a babe in infant clothing;
O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Child, for us sinners, poor and in the manger,
WE would embrace thee, with love and awe.
Who would not love thee, loving us so dearly?
O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Historian Rod Bennett argues that although the earliest copies of Adeste fideles are dated to a period much later than the Arian heresy (an early heresy that denies the divinity of Christ and argues that Christ is a created being), there is good reason to believe that the original words were passed down from the time of the original Arian controversy.

Joy, beautiful spark of divinity!

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen,und freudenvollere.

Freude!  Freude!

Freude, schöner GötterfunkenTochter aus Elysium,Wir betreten feuertrunken,Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!Deine Zauber binden wiederWas die Mode streng geteilt;Alle Menschen werden Brüder,Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt…


Few composers have  enriched and delighted my life as the great master Ludwig van Beethoven.

May the light of God shine upon his face!
(Numbers 6:25)


The imperial roots of the Gospels…sort of

In today’s Advent reflection Bishop Robert Barron explains the roots of the word Gospel. I thought it was quite interesting and decided to share it with you:

Advent Reflection Day 18

“In Greek, the word “Gospel” is euangelion. Eu means good and angelion means tidings or message. This is where the word “angel” comes from, meaning simply “messenger.”

Now we automatically associate this word with religion, as in evangelization or evangelical. But at the time of the Gospels, the term euangelion was associated especially with military victory. It was the good news of triumph in battle. More to it, euangelion was associated with the deity and accomplishments of the emperor of Rome. By Jesus’ time, it had become a commonplace that the Roman emperor was considered a god. Thus when an emperor was installed, euangelion was proclaimed. And when the emperor would write a new law or win a military victory or in any other way assert his command, it was announced as euangelion.

So can you see how dangerous it is to announce the record of Jesus as a “gospel”? This good news has nothing to do with the Roman emperor and his army. It is proposing, in effect, a new emperor. And then for good measure, the writer Mark adds that he is writing the “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Well, those were fighting words, for “son of God” was another title reserved for the Roman emperor.

Do you wonder now why Christians were persecuted for the first three centuries of the Church’s life? Do you wonder why every single apostle except for John was martyred? Do you wonder now why they threw Christians to wild beasts? It’s because they announced the true euangelion.

But what, or who, was this new emperor intending to fight? And what would be the nature of his military victory? John the Baptist provides us a clue. He preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But one was coming who was greater than John, one for whom John prepared the way, and that greater man would baptize in the power of the Holy Spirit. He would take on all of human sin and swallow it up in the divine mercy.

That’s the new emperor, and that’s the dangerous good news”.

Bishop Robert Barron

Robert Barron is the newly elected Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles as a great apostolate called Word On Fire. I have posted many of his videos which touches subjects from theology and arts to pop culture and movies.

The Real Santa Claus: the story of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Mira

St. Nicholas is far more than just Father Christmas rather he was a rich man who gave up his fortune to the poor and become a  Bishop. He not only withstood persecution and incarceration for being a Christian but also defended Christian orthodoxy during the Council of Nicaea against the Arian heresy in the 300’s.

His generosity and devotion to Christ and his flock resonate to this day in western culture folklore as Santa Claus.

Happy Advent everyone!

For more information about the real Santa Claus:



Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today Gospel reading:


The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38

Blessed Virgin Mary pray for us that a culture of life takes hold of our hearts and bring us closer to the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus!

Tragedy, politicians and the media

Men are ruled, at this minute by the clock, by liars who refuse them news, and by fools who cannot govern.”

GK Chesterton
The New Name, Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays, 1917

The reaction to the yesterday tragic shooting was as perplexing as it was worrisome. The political class couldn’t wait to exploit the tragic events to advance their political agenda about gun control. Reckless speculation based on a preconceived notion dominated most of the commentary from our political leaders. The fact that real people lost their lives and that real people lost a loved one was relegated to a back seat in favor of the ever-important political ideology.

Is time that as a society we re-learn proper civil discourse. One thing is to have a civil and reason debate about gun control another is to exploit a tragic event without allowing the facts to emerge or get in the way of their political narrative. It is disconcerting that the immediate reaction from some on the left as well, some of the right is to view such events with ideological filters instead from the heart. Frustration and anger are honest and human responses to any tragedy, but when we look at our political leaders we don’t expect knee-jerk reactions full of overt political rhetoric instead we look at them for reassurance and leadership that invokes the best qualities in us.


The media was not far behind from the political left. The Daily News led the way by declaring in its front page:

“God Isn’t Fixing This. Pray They Wake Up: GOP prez hopefuls offer prayers, not solutions on gun control”.

The headline displays contempt for religious faith by ridiculing the offering of prayers for the victims. It’s as if the headline was saying: go pray to your imaginary man in the sky while we adults look for real solutions for gun control. The problem with this headline is that it not only misdiagnosed the problem, but also that it betrays an utter misunderstanding of Christian faith.

The problem was not lack of gun control, California already has so-called tough gun control laws the problem was Islamic terrorism. Gun control laws will not solve the problem with Islamic terrorism, it will enable it. It didn’t matter that Islamists caused the shooting. What mattered was that it was a “mass shooting” and therefore gun control laws must be enforced.

The selective ridicule of GOP candidates’ faith is astonishing and a condescending shot at people of faith. It ignores that for Christian God is the source of strength, courage and wisdom that is required to deal with such tragedy. That Christianity does not look at prayer as a magic dispensing machine of goods, but rather as an instrument for grace. Christians recognize that out of evil good always emerges. Christ on the Cross exemplifies this belief… to use political candidate’s faith as a slight against religious people is a sign of the sad state of our political discourse.

My prayers and thoughts are for those who lost their lives and their families and friends who they left behind.