Reviews: family entertainment, documentaries, resources, books, music
Reviews: family entertainment, documentaries, resources, books, music
AFA Staff
AFA Staff
AFA Journal staff reviews movies, books and other resources

August 2020Created Equal
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (photo above) became a household name after then President George H. W. Bush nominated him to the Court in 1991. Anita Hill, a law professor who had previously worked for Thomas, claimed sexual harassment during the nomination proceedings. What followed were televised Senate Judiciary hearings that took the nation’s center stage before he was finally confirmed by a narrow majority.

Created Equal is a documentary about much more than that period of time in Thomas’ life. Beginning with his early childhood in poverty, viewers are carried into his life through stunning imagery that compliments the narrative delivered in Thomas’ own matter-of-fact style via apparently unscripted words.

He is transparent about being on the path of a radical young protester and the turning point at which he abruptly turned back to the moral principles that had been instilled in him by his grandfather.

The entertaining film will leave the viewer more informed and personally endeared to the man Clarence Thomas – perhaps hoping to run into him on one of his cross-country RV trips. Parents should be cautioned that there are a few minor language issues, most when Thomas is quoting others. For viewing information, go to

Anne Reed

Billy Blackwood & Friends: From the Heart
With a huge heart for Jesus and a stellar voice to praise Him, Billy Blackwood continues his family’s rich heritage in Southern gospel music that spans more than 85 years, 45 for Billy himself. His new album, From the Heart, begins with the song “People Need the Lord” which lyrically and musically sets the Jesus-centered theme for the 11 tracks accompanied primarily with piano and guitar.

He is the youngest son of gospel music legend James Blackwood and currently leads the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. Billy played drums for J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet at the age of 14. He also played for the Blackwood Brothers, Gordon Jensen and Sunrise, and Andrus/Blackwood & Company, and he toured with Voice, opening for Elvis Presley. His new project includes “I’d Rather Have Jesus” and other old favorites. Available at or

Buddy Smith, AFA senior vice president

The God Chair
Author Ann Beckham Gainey removes all the barriers to be totally transparent in this account of her journey through a long season of health challenges that defied diagnosis and treatment.

In an early chapter, she wrote, “Most mornings, I dragged my weary body out of bed, clawing my way up to zero.”

In Chapter 7, she commiserated, “My current life had become a pretense, a masquerade, an illusion.”

Her major physical dilemma was shortness of breath, which – after two-and-a-half years – took a toll on emotional and mental health as well.

In The God Chair: One Thousand Days of Pain with Purpose, she chronicles the long, hard journey. A self-professed conscientious goal-oriented, rule-keeping, guideline-loving people pleaser, Gainey eventually found a counselor who prescribed no agenda, no Bible reading, no meditation, no self-improvement plan – just be with God and rest in Him. It was not an easy regimen to follow, but it led eventually to relief. Forty-nine chapters are packed with honesty supplemented with probing prayers and practical action points. Available at online and retail booksellers.

Randall Murphree

Giving is the Good Life
“Page turner” is a phrase often used to describe a bestselling novel. In this case, it applies to Randy Alcorn’s Giving is the Good Life: The Unexpected Path to Purpose and Joy. He includes countless inspiring stories of how generous giving changed not only the recipient of the generosity, but also the life of the giver.

Citing clear scriptural principles, Alcorn leads the reader to reconsider what it means to “live the good life.”

He tells the story of Riley, age 10, who raised thousands of dollars to buy specially built bicycles for disabled persons. After giving bicycles to three girls for Christmas, Riley remarked, “This is the best Christmas I ever had.” That’s the point: Giving is the good life.

“[W]e’ll explore the good life as God defines it,” Alcorn writes, “and discover what Jesus meant when He said, ‘I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’” (John 10:10).

He shatters the Western concept of what it means to be wealthy. He writes,
“[I]f you are living on more than $5.50 a day, you are richer than 3.4 billion people. That kind of blessing isn’t something to take lightly; it comes with responsibility.”

It is an encouraging, informative, and challenging read, well worth the time.

Available at or

Randall Murphree

Josie and the Digger’s Club
A mansion rumored to be haunted, clues, talk of a hidden treasure, and a small band of youngsters with a newly formed club organized to dig up facts and solve problems merge to create an exciting adventure. Written by Pamela Bush, Josie and the Digger’s Club: Case of the Stone Mansion, is the first in a series of three books that detail the experiences of Josie, Charlie, Lily, and Amy. Teens and preteens alike will enjoy reading about the club’s exploits as they brave danger and adversity to solve mysteries. Along the way they will also learn some important truths about the Lord and His love for them as well as His purpose and plan for their lives.

The Josie and the Digger’s Club series and other books by Pamela Bush are available at

Matthew White

Guide to Shop and Engineering
This practical introduction to the industrial arts is the creation of Kent Misegades, an engineer with more than 40 years’ experience. The North Carolina author and his wife lamented the demise of many of the basic skills once taught at the high school level to prepare students for the working world. Hence, he set about compiling Guide to Shop and Engineering: For Secondary School Students, a resource to fill that gap.

The introduction is titled “So, You Want to Learn How to Make Things and Fix Things?” The book is 219 pages – 17 chapters filled with exercises from fun projects such as making a giant paper airplane to practical ones such as building a workbench.

In addition, Misegades includes short biographical sketches of many American inventors and entrepreneurs. For example, he writes about ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, who taught himself how to make his own dummies. He tells of David Goode who launched one of the nation’s most successful snow and water ski companies in 1975 when he was only 19 years old. The book is adaptable to any educational environment – Christian, public, private, or home schools.

Available at

Randall Murphree

Beyond Betrayal
Betrayal. It’s something almost everyone experiences in life in one way or another. Moving beyond the betrayal, however, can be very difficult. For many, it takes wise counsel to help them through the healing process. That is exactly what author, speaker, and evangelist Phil Waldrep hopes to offer in Beyond Betrayal.

By sharing his personal story of being betrayed by an employee and friend, Waldrep seeks to guide readers through the difficult journey of processing the hurt, overcoming resentment, and ultimately finding healing and wholeness.

“Though betrayal can feel like the end – and it is the end of some things – it doesn’t have to be the end of you,” Waldrep writes. “It doesn’t have to color every relationship you have for the rest of your life. It doesn’t mean God has turned His back on you or is punishing you. … I promise you, the sun will shine again in your life. You can trust again.”

Available at online book retailers.

Matthew White