Gareth Higgins 03-06-2014

Without conscious resistance, the flattened culture of entertainment globalization is going to continue to dominate.

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in 'Son of God.' Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Son of God is Hollywood’s take on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. While the producers clearly tried hard to use modern filmmaking techniques to bring scripture to the big screen, the attempt fell flat somewhere between the use of action-sequences, swelling music reminiscent of old Westerns, and unconvincing acting — Jesus is played by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, who managed to look irritatingly self-satisfied for most of the movie.

Since faith is such a personal, spiritual experience, it begs the question: Is it possible to make the life and ministry of Jesus into a film that accurately reflects Christianity, or does such an effort cheapen beliefs?

Danny Duncan Collum 03-06-2014

Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

He didn't just sing for the audience. He got them to sing for themselves.

Liuan Huska 03-06-2014

Nora Howell modeling her dress made of crackers

From galleries to the street, artist Nora Howell is unafraid of tough topics.

QR Blog Editor 03-06-2014

Prototype of "The Miracle Machine," which claims to turn water to wine in three days. Courtesy

By turning water into wine, Jesus used his first miracle to keep the wedding feast going. 

Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:7-10)

But maybe Jesus won't be the only one reigniting the party with homemade wine. A new device called The Miracle Machine promises to make pre-aged wine in about three days.

It’s called The Miracle Machine (of course) and it’s basically a Sodastream for wine. Like its under-21 counterpart, the Miracle Machine uses water, yeast, grape concentrate, and finishing powder packets to create decent DIY-quality vino, virtually out of thin air. Just connect the machine to its corresponding iOS or Android app, input all the ingredients, and, in true miracle fashion, wait three days for your wine to rise triumphantly from the ashes of discarded flavor packets and tap water.

Just to be clear, Jesus didn't have to wait three days for his wine. 

Flash Fiction/Short Fiction — Jason Howard Jason Howard is the author of “A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music.” His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Nation, Paste, Sojourners and on NPR.
Poverty is the new slavery. --Reverend Jim Wallis, God's Politics
Zach Czaia 03-05-2014

There are tour guides who speak / all the human tongues, and we are trampled / for being famous blades / but then are resurrected.

Eric J. Lyman 03-04-2014

Il Mio Papa, a new weekly magazine that will focus entirely on Pope Francis. Photo courtesy Mondadori Editore. Via RNS

Il Mio Papa, a new weekly magazine that will focus entirely on Pope Francis — complete with a weekly centerfold poster of the pontiff — is scheduled to hit Italian newsstands on Wednesday.

The magazine, whose name translates to “My Pope,” will go heavy on photography and colorful layouts, according to a news release from publisher Mondadori. It’s the first magazine entirely devoted to just one pontiff.

The magazine will include stories about people and events that inspire the pope; background information on papal remarks; a “saints of the week” column; a collection of international cartoons about the pope; and a list of that week’s television programs dedicated to issues related to faith and Christianity.

Heritage Auctions will present Catherine Cuellar as the guest lecturer for Culture, Community, & Commerce: A View Inside the Dallas Arts District. Cuellar serves as executive director of the Dallas Arts District, the largest contiguous urban cultural neighborhood in the United States and world headquarters of the Global Cultural Districts Network. For two decades she has worked as an award-winning multimedia journalist for national public radio stations and programs, Sojourners magazine and The Dallas Morning News, among others.
Sharon Jayson 02-27-2014

A woman smoking marijuana. Photo courtesy of Stanimir G.Stoev via Shutterstock.

National attention on a proposed Arizona law allowing business owners to deny service for religious reasons to gay people signals how attitudes on social issues have shifted dramatically in recent years.

Experts said such changes will accelerate on issues such as same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, legalization of marijuana, and childbearing among the unwed. Younger people are more liberal and less conventional, they said.

“We’re entering a period of massive social change,” said sociologist Daniel Lichter, of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. “This traditional pattern is reinforced by very large racial changes in America’s composition. The Baby Boomer generation — which is predominantly white and affluent and in some ways, conservative —  in the next 20 [to] 30 years will be replaced by a younger population, and that population is going to be disproportionately minority.”

Omar Sacirbey 02-27-2014

Nearly 60,000 people have signed a petition demanding that YouTube take down a Katy Perry video they say is blasphemous and offensive to Muslims.

About 75 seconds into the video for the song “Dark Horse,” a Cleopatra-like Perry shoots a laser at a man dressed as a pharaoh but also wearing a pendant that says “Allah” in Arabic. Both the man and the Allah pendant disintegrate.

“Blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video,” reads the petition, started by 22-year-old Shazad Iqbal of Bradford, England, who suggests Perry sets herself up as an enemy of God by shooting the man with the Allah necklace. “We hope YouTube will remove the video.”

Eric J. Lyman 02-25-2014

Russell Crowe arriving for the premiere of “Les Miserables.” Photo via Featureflash/

Actor Russell Crowe is using social media to try to cajole Pope Francis into seeing his latest film, the controversial “Noah,” which stars Crowe as the waterlogged biblical patriarch.

The $125 million film, which will go into wide release next month, already has some religious groups upset over a story line they say takes too many liberties in director Darren Aronofsky’s adaptation to the silver screen. Crowe says he’d like Francis to see the film to make up his own mind.

Crowe — who won an Oscar 14 years ago for “Gladiator,” which was set in ancient Rome — tweeted an invitation to the pope, reading in part, “The message of the film is powerful, fascinating, resonant.”

Eric J. Lyman 02-24-2014

Wine being poured. Photo courtesy of lenetstan via Shutterstock

Tiny Vatican City consumes more wine per capita than any other country in the world, according to information from the California-based Wine Institute.

According to the Wine Institute’s latest statistics, the Vatican consumed 74 liters of wine per person, around double the per-capita consumption of Italy as a whole. A standard bottle of wine is about .75 liters.

And while some of that consumption is clearly related to ceremonial Communion wine, Italian press reports say it’s more likely because Vatican residents are older (the lack of children are figured into the statistics), are overwhelmingly male, are highly educated, and tend to eat communally — all factors that tend to lead toward higher wine consumption.

Mark I. Pinsky 02-21-2014

A scene from “Final: The Rapture,” a Christian horror movie. Photo courtesy of Final: The Rapture. Via RNS

The words “Christian” and “horror movie” rarely appear in the same sentence, much less in the same film’s promotional material.

Yet that’s exactly what Tim Chey, writer and director of “Final: The Rapture,” does to promote his picture in its city-by-city rollout.

As the movie’s poster promises: “When the Rapture strikes … all of hell will break loose.”

In an interview outside the Orlando, Fla., multiplex where his film is playing on a Sunday afternoon, Chey said he’s comfortable with the Christian horror movie label, or even “Christian disaster movie.”

Suzanne Ross 02-20-2014
Members of the cast of NBC's Parenthood, DFree /

Members of the cast of NBC's Parenthood, DFree /

The writers of Parenthood, the popular NBC family drama, use an interesting device to dramatize conflict. When two characters have a difference of opinion their exchange begins in measured, even tones. One person talks, while the other listens. Then the second person talks, while the first one listens. But as their disagreement heats up, the exchange gets faster and faster until no one is listening and both characters are talking over each other so loud and fast that it’s difficult to understand exactly what they are saying. This clip is typical. It’s an argument between Sarah and her boyfriend, Mark, over whether or not she will be able to keep her promise to attend a weekend getaway with him.

Roma Downey 02-20-2014

Actress Roma Downey plays Jesus’ mother Mary in ‘The Bible’ drama documentary. RNS photo courtesy History Channel.

Tired of cursing the darkness, my husband Mark and I wanted to shine a light. To do this, we set up a production company called LightWorkers Media. The Bible miniseries, born out of this intention and released last year, grew so popular that we were able to make it into our Jesus film, Son of God.

The Bible series was in its third week when Jesus began to appear on the big screen. There was great excitement that Jesus was coming, with our trailers, various talk shows and even Twitter buzzing with anticipation.

He was beautiful and strong and kind and compassionate. His presence uplifted and encouraged people. It was everything we had hoped for.

The Editors 02-18-2014

In remembrance of Pete Seeger

Greg Coates 02-17-2014


"Did you think I’d forgotten you? Perhaps you hoped I had. Don’t waste a breath mourning ... For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain there can be no mercy. There is but one rule. Hunt or be hunted." - Francis Underwood

So ends the Shakespearean soliloquy at the end of the first episode of House of Card's highly anticipated second season.

Underwood lives by a very clear code of ethics: Get to the top and do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal. For him, the end always justifies the means. And so, although it certainly made me wince to see what happens in Season 2's opening episode, I was left in awe at the show’s brutal honesty of what a life purely committed to power potentially looks like.

Some scenes perhaps strike us viewers as far from reality (Washington can't really be that bad, can it?!?), but other vignettes are far more plausible. Consider Underwood’s commendation of a congresswoman for making the cold, calculated decision to “do what needed to be done” by wiping out entire villages with missile strikes.

Her “ruthless pragmatism” merely makes Underwood smirk.

Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in “Son of God.” Photo courtesy of Lightworkers Media / RNS

Christian leaders, including megachurch pastor Rick Warren, plan to rent every screen in numerous multiplex theaters across 10 cities for the premiere of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s upcoming Jesus film Son of God, on Feb. 27.

The unusual move reflects the confidence Christian leaders have in Burnett and Downey’s work in the wake of The Bible, a hit miniseries on the History channel.

The Son of God, an adaption from The Bible series, opens in theaters nationwide Feb. 28.