Western

Gareth Higgins 09-28-2016

A GRIZZLED LAW enforcement officer, days from retirement, looking for one last challenge. A team of bank robbers, one with noble(ish) motivation, the other psychopathic. Great American vistas to enforce the notion that what we’re watching is Important. So far, so clichéd.

But Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan’s script directed by David Mackenzie, brilliantly transcends such hokum in favor of utterly honest dialogue, a plausible plot, and real settings. The drama, as embodied in career-highlight performances from its leads, takes on an almost-Shakespearean gravity. Two brothers steal from a bank that’s been stealing from them. People get hurt, but they were hurting already, so who cares? And the Old Man of the West experiences the lack of resolution that may result from even the most dogged pursuit.

Marcus (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto (Gil Birmingham), Texas Rangers chasing bad guys, have known each other for years. Marcus ignorantly throws racial insults at Alberto, believing them to be affectionate, while Alberto quietly winces. The memory of land theft and genocide is in Alberto’s bones, his half-Mexican, half-Comanche personhood betrayed by the forebears of the very authority he seeks to uphold.

Meanwhile, Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) rob branches of the bank that’s been trying to manipulate their family. Like all families, it’s a family with secrets, but the lack of healthy community bonds has allowed those secrets to wreak havoc on the lives of its members. There’s no support for moving beyond the trauma of a violent upbringing, just resignation to things as they are and belief that maybe a bit of money could get them out of it. A bleak Texas standing in for a bleak America, one in which the aching desire to connect is buried under economic desperation and get-rich-quick schemes. Even the church is in on it—a televangelist merely replicates the system of social inequality and betrayal of trust. People need help, but no one shows them how to ask for it.

Richard Twiss 05-07-2015

How Native Christians are reclaiming tradition to create an "Indigenous hymnody." 

Sami Awad 08-03-2011

100216_090527-1503-palestineWhenever I give talks on the effects of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian livelihood, the status of nonviolence as a means to resisting the occupation, and how I believe nonviolence is the only way to move forward to resolve the conflict and create a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, one of the first and immediate questions I get from foreign visitors to my office in Bethlehem is, What you said is good, but what about the Muslims? Do they also believe in nonviolence? Do they understand it?" Even if I don't mention religion in my presentation -- and I rarely do -- this question always seems to make its way in our discussions.

Debra Dean Murphy 05-05-2011
"However much we try to distinguish between morally good and morally evil ways of killing, our attempts are beset with contradictions, and these contradictions remain a fragile part of our mode
Vanessa Ortiz 04-29-2011
Well, the last time I checked, women were in the front lines of civil resistance struggles in http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/03/03/women-on-the-frontlines-in-ba..." target="_blank
Tracey Bianchi 04-14-2011
I'm a Midwestern girl coming out of her winter shell this month. Flip flops are lost companions just now crawling out from under beds and hidden closet shelves.
Gary M. Burge 03-01-2011
I've been fascinated watching an earlier blog hunker down into a strong debate about Israel and the Palestinians (February 22, "http://blog.sojo.net/2011/02/22/when-will-3-5-million-palest
02-28-2011

In recent weeks, Facebook and other social media have clearly demonstrated their capacity to do far more than just allow us to keep in touch with our family and friends. They have proven to be powerful organizing tools, capable of assisting in the creation of broad international movements for social change. Social media has proven to be a particularly powerful tool in countries in which basic democratic rights such as a free press and the right to assembly are severely restricted. At the same time, Facebook and YouTube are increasingly rendering international borders as meaningless. Western media coverage of the recent popular uprising in Egypt consistently emphasized the catalytic role of Facebook in galvanizing youth and young adults to take action against an entrenched regime that had long been viewed as impenetrable. In the days after Mubarak's departure, both the New York Times and The Los Angeles Times published lead stories describing the role of certain Facebook pages in not only serving as a call to action, but as a space in which emerging activists in Tunisia and Egypt were able to share lessons with each other. These young activists had not only managed to evade the reach of both nations' security police, they had also sidelined older opposition parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Daoud Kuttab 02-18-2011
Ten years ago, I established AmmanNet, the Arab world's first Internet radio that used technology to create audio and text content freely.
Helen Lee 02-03-2011
By now, you've surely heard about the infamous Wall Street Journal article enti
Vanessa Ortiz 01-31-2011
"All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable." -- Henr
Eugene Cho 01-21-2011
It's amazing what one article can do, but one thing that's clear is Amy Chua is going to sell some books. Cha-ching.
Jeannie Choi 01-14-2011
Dutch Winter. Chinese Mothers. Martin Luther King Jr. Here's a little round up of links from around the web you may have missed this week:
Nadia Bolz-Weber 12-22-2010
In Matthew 11: 2-11, when John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are yo
Nadia Bolz-Weber 11-17-2010
Well, it's parable day again boys and girls. Parables are like Jesus' subversive little stories of an alternate universe.
Jim Wallis 08-26-2010
This coming Saturday, August 28 will mark the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream Speech." Glenn Beck has chosen this d
Jarrod McKenna 05-21-2010
British Evangelist Steve Chalke upset a lot of evangelicals of a reformed bent with two little paragraphs in (his book that has so much worth reading in it beyond what has got all the attention)
Tony Campolo 05-19-2010

I recently returned from a speaking engagement at the Bethlehem Bible College; and what I witnessed firsthand sent chills up my back. Listening to the horror stories told to me by oppressed Palestinians elicited feelings ranging from indignation to compassion.

Jarrod McKenna 05-07-2010

"My father was born by a river bed and left to die. My mother grew up in extreme poverty. They made it. I am their story, they inspire me!" These are the words of my new friend Rudo, an amazing young woman from Zimbabwe who has come through so much and has now been chosen to be one of a thousand ambassadors of the Make Poverty History Road Trip who next week are acting to make history.

Onleilove Alston 04-23-2010

[Read more of this blog conversation in response to the Sojourners magazine article "

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