Culture

Gareth Higgins 08-05-2014

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 08-05-2014

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 08-05-2014

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.

07-22-2014
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.”
07-21-2014
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 07-17-2014

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 07-10-2014

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 07-09-2014

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

Andrew Wilkes 07-09-2014

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

Jennifer Moon 07-09-2014

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

Gareth Higgins 07-08-2014

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

Danny Duncan Collum 07-08-2014

Seven words the FCC needs to hear this summer.

Walter Wink

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

Vicki Hyman 07-07-2014

“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.

07-03-2014
"From the looks on Barack Obama's face during his time with the Little Leaguers, I would guess he enjoyed it more than the political fundraiser afterward," Jim Wallis wrote in Time magazine about the impromptu visit to the field where his son was playing.
Rick Barry 06-25-2014

"Here's how you bring light into the world," says a scruffy-bearded man in shirtsleeves and a knit cap on a Brooklyn rooftop. "First, you get up in the morning and you scream!" His mischievous grin melts into something more ethereally content as he screams. At length.

He's had plenty of practice screaming — he does it for a living.

The man is Yishai Romanoff, lead singer of the hassidic punk band Moshiach Oi and one of the half-dozen artists, activists, and culture-makers profiled in the documentary Punk Jews.

The phrase can seem like an oxymoron: The essence of punk is to challenge inherited convention, yet adherence to rich traditions of convention is the common through-line of all of Judaism's myriad flavors.

06-09-2014
Now that he’s just about finished promoting his environmentally conscious movie about a Flood that wiped out most of the world’s population in the distant past, Darren Aronofsky has signed on to produce an environmentally conscious HBO series about a “Waterless Flood” — actually a pandemic brought about by genetic engineering — that wipes out most of the world’s population in the near future.
Julie Polter 06-04-2014

Visions of Vocation by Steven Garber / Anicent Sufi Invocations and Forgotten Songs from Aleppo by NAWA / Invisible Hands by Corinne Goria / Jacob's Choice by Ervin R. Stutzman

 

 

Ed Spivey Jr. 06-04-2014

Illustration by Ken Davis

And they're using it for themselves.

Pages

Subscribe