Is Your Pastor or Priest a Man of Action? Check Out Pastor Stephen Grant in, for example, WINE INTO WATER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL, MURDERER'S ROW: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL and THE RIVER: A PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVEL by Ray Keating

Pastor Stephen Grant?

Stephen Grant is the pastor at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church on eastern Long Island. Grant is one of the more unique second-career clergy around, as he once worked for the CIA. Besides theology, his interests include archery, golf, writing, classic films, the beach, poker, baseball, and history. Grant also knows his wines, champagnes and brews. Oh yes, he generally dislikes politicians, and happens to be an expert marksman with a handgun and a rifle, while being pretty handy with a combat knife as well.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

“Dunkirk” – Christopher Nolan Forges a Masterpiece

5 Stars out of 5

Two retreats, or narrow escapes, in wartime stand out in my mind.

The first was during the Battle of Long Island during the American Revolutionary War. General George Washington’s army took a drubbing by British forces in late August 1776. The Americans were surrounded, with their backs to the East River. The end of Revolution loomed as a very real possibility. But under the cover of darkness and fog starting on August 29th and into the next day, the Americans escaped – moving some 9,000 troops, with supplies and cannons, quietly across the river to Manhattan. Washington was among the last to leave. His army was saved, and so was the Revolution.

The second occurred in late May into early June of 1940. It came to be known as the “Miracle at Dunkirk.” After being beaten and pushed to the coast by the Germans, the British Expeditionary Force, along with French troops and some Belgian and Dutch forces, were trapped at the French seaport of Dunkirk. The British government launched Operation Dynamo, cobbling together a bizarre collection of vessels, including fishing boats and pleasure craft, in the hopes of rescuing some 45,000 troops. Instead, 330,000 troops were evacuated.

This case of snatching survival – the ability to carry on the fight – from the jaws of defeat is the focus of Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” Nolan has written and directed a masterpiece that is sparse in dialogue, rich in tension, and innovative in its storytelling in terms of perspective, the use of time, and special effects. It’s also hard to think of another film that has presented aerial combat in such an intense and realistic manner, thereby generating high levels of suspense.

But while “Dunkirk” most certainly is an epic; it is more than that in that Nolan communicates the intensity of war, and how different men react under such horrors, in an intimate way. With limited screen time, one is still gripped by the stories of various individuals. Assorted stand-out and economical performances are served up by Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Fionn Whitehead, Jack Lowden, and Kenneth Branagh.

The film fittingly closes out with one of the soldiers reading Winston Churchill’s famous Dunkirk speech from a newspaper: “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

Nolan’s “Dunkirk” brings this critical moment in history to life – this most important retreat or escape – in innovative, respectful and impressive fashion.


Ray Keating is the author of the PASTOR STEPHEN GRANT NOVELS. The latest in the series is WINE INTO WATER.

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