Culture

the Web Editors 8-12-2014

We lost a funny man on Monday to a sad and persistent disease. Robin Williams passed away last night of an apparent suicide.

In memory of Williams, we've compiled a few of our favorite scenes.

1. Aladdin

Williams' performance as the lovable Genie: "Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck!" 

 

 

 
Tom Deignan 8-12-2014

Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges star in “The Giver.” Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company

This Friday, a movie version of the classic novel “The Giver” opens in theaters with an impressive cast, including Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges. “The Giver,” originally written by Lois Lowry, explores a seemingly perfect world where all conflicts have been resolved and annoyances — such as bad weather and adolescent “stirrings” — have been eradicated, allowing this culture to achieve a beautiful state of “sameness.”

As you can imagine, this utopian society is not so utopian. “The Giver” focuses on young Jonas, who has been selected for a daunting task: to serve as society’s sole proprietor of memory and emotion. Jonas learns about pain and sadness, but also experiences beautiful colors, a thrilling sleigh ride and ultimately learns to feel love. In other words, Jonas learns what it means to be human — and that his world may not be so perfect after all.

“The Giver” is the latest in a wave of dystopian stories that have washed over America in recent years. From this summer’s “Purge” sequel and “Under the Dome” to the latest “Hunger Games” movie (due out in November), people can’t get enough of these apocalyptic fantasies, in which seemingly perfect worlds turn horrific.

Why such an appetite for dystopian stories now?

Reggie L. Williams 8-05-2014

Excerpt from Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance, by Reggie L. Williams

Julie Polter 8-05-2014

Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. IVP Books.

Anne Colamosca 8-05-2014

The Kennan Diaries. W. W. Norton & Company.

Gareth Higgins 8-05-2014

Brendan Gleeson in Calvary

Calvary is a rare and beautiful film, one that tells the truth, or at least asks for it honestly.

Julie Polter 8-05-2014

Accidental Theologians by Elizabeth A. Dreyer / Extending the Table by Mennonite Central Committee / Overrated by Eugene Cho / Burning Down the House by Nell Bernstein

Jason Storbakken 8-05-2014

Following a musician's journey through the rough and the redeemed.

Photo by Stephanie Berbec Photography http://stephanieberbec.com/

Photo by Stephanie Berbec Photography http://stephanieberbec.com/

No abundant bright bloom of flowers on the CD cover or obscure Latin in the title or gentle dance of cursive font describing the song list, nothing can hide that this is not your light-and-breezy summer release of cruising-with-the-top-down jams, but rather, a full-blown concept album of folk hymns about the art of dying.

The Art of Dying (officially Ars Moriendi) represents a brave and risky move for the make-it or break-it breakout album of an up-and-coming band. The Collection’s courageous collection of orchestral pop hymns chart and curate the grieving heart of a gifted songwriter and the community of bandmates and fans that surround him.

At a time when the flame of the alternative folk explosion still burns bright despite much backlash, this North Carolina ensemble shows up as the son of Mumford and Sons, married to Edward Sharpe’s second cousin, with too many members to pack the tiny stages of clubs and bars, with a sound fit for mountaintop vistas, and songs as mystic visions that pierce the veil between life and death.

Despite the heavy earnestness of the entire package, it’s exactly the grief-support-group that my ears need, and I imagine a rendering of fragile faith and hope against hope that our world craves. The Collection manage to sing about Jesus and Thomas and the prodigal son without getting pushy, dancing on the fringe of explicit CCM, exploring sacred-meets-secular crossover paths and gritty crossroads that groups like Needtobreathe, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, and Gungor have already traveled.

Death remains that earthly finality to render our denial mute — and our religious musings about whether it represents cosmic reunion, bodily resurrection, or eternal rest are powerless when we admit that the mysterious premonitions of the “heaven is real” crowd are but passing glimpses and not bulletproof facts. The Christians that remain relevant in our world have invested in the Kingdom here, now, and all around us, and they don’t shove tracts that guarantee afterlife fantasies in our faces on the same street corners where tramps and hobos sleep and sometimes starve.

7-22-2014
Those few who are well-known to an international audience are surprisingly accessible. Jim Wallis is the founder of Sojourners Magazine, New York Times best-selling author, public theologian and television commentator. Walking alongside, he told me that meaningful immigration reform is today much closer to becoming a reality than it has been in many years. The reason is because “the evangelicals are behind it and they are pressing the Republicans, who are coming around to it,” he said. For evangelicals “this is a moral and spiritual issue, not merely a social or economic one.”
7-21-2014
Dean Nelson, the prose editor, is the founder and director of the journalism program at PLNU (Point Loma Nazarene University) who writes occasionally for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Christianity Today, Sojourners and other national publications and has co-written 11 books.
Brian Truitt 7-17-2014

World’s top exorcists form a supergroup in “The Devilers.” Image courtesy Matt Triano/Dynamite Entertainment

There’s never a better time for a bunch of holy avengers than when all hell actually breaks loose.

The Dynamite Entertainment series The Devilers debuts Wednesday as an action-packed supernatural comic book full of demonic beasties, big-picture philosophies, and heroes that have to put religious differences aside in order to save Vatican City – and the world – from being turned into brimstone.

“When suddenly it’s ‘Oh that is a giant hellmouth that opened up in front of me,’ that changes your beliefs,” said series writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (The Bunker, The Life After), who’s doing the The Devilers alongside artist Matt Triano.

Julie Polter 7-10-2014

The Disposable Project by Raul Guerrero / Jesus Was a Migrant by Deirdre Cornell / The New Black by Yoruba Richen / How to Be a Christian Without Going to Church by Kelly Bean

Rosalie G. Riegle 7-09-2014

Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom. W.W. Norton and Company.

Andrew Wilkes 7-09-2014

Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World. IVP Books.

Jennifer Moon 7-09-2014

Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing. The Crossroad Publishing Company.

Gareth Higgins 7-08-2014

Studios have been realizing that there is an audience for long-form storytelling that is willing to think.

Seven words the FCC needs to hear this summer.

Walter Wink

In scholarship and life, Walter Wink sought the truth with passion.

Vicki Hyman 7-07-2014

“The Leftovers” is an American television series that premiered on HBO in June. Photo court. Paul Schiraldi, HBO/Warner Brothers

HBO’s “The Leftovers” is the feel-good series of the summer, if your summer revolves around root canals and recreational waterboarding.

Indeed, it’s pretty grim stuff — but quite engrossing and worth your time, thanks to intense performances by Justin Theroux and Christopher Eccleston, and the way creators Tom Perrotta, who wrote the book on which the series is based, and Damon Lindelof, best known for screwing up the end of “Lost,” unflinchingly tackle the nature of grief and the limits of faith.

Can you call it an apocalypse if you can still get a decent bagel afterwards? It’s three years after what has been termed the Sudden Departure, when 2 percent of the world’s population — Christians, Jews, Muslims, straight, gay, white, black, brown, and Gary Busey — suddenly disappeared.

Pages

Subscribe