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Be of good cheer, little pup, for thou too in resurrection shall have a little golden tail. ~Martin Luther @revdeaconb

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    Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 2)

    Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 2)

    Too long for one post, we’re looking at the advent of the “sadcom,” a unique TV comedy developed over recent years. Sadcoms are shows that find humor in the debauched and dysfunctional lives of lead characters, punctuating that wildness with sincere moments of sympathy. For a longer breakdown, check out part 1, with a review of BoJack Horseman‘s season four.

    It’s worth asking how we got to this place, where alcoholic horses and mad-scientist grandpas become critically acclaimed television for adults. It’s a question that Elizabeth Bruenig’s write-up “Why is Millennial humor so weird?” worked to answer last August in the…

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    An Obituary from Beyond the Grave

    An Obituary from Beyond the Grave

    With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to remember the sobering reality that death comes for us all. Hooray! That’s the case for many as the streets fill up with ghosts, ghouls and zombies, though that certainly isn’t the case universally. In my neighborhood, the ghosts and ghouls are generally outnumbered by the hoards of Jedi, Avengers, and Disney Princesses that come with open pillowcases. For a master primer on our cultural denial of death, look no further than Ethan Richardson’s piece in the Mockingbird Magazine’s Love & Death issue.

    While we may be in a…

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    Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 1)

    Portal Guns, Talking Horses, and the Future of TV Comedy (Part 1)

    On the TV front, two new seasons of Mockingbird favorites are now out for your viewing pleasure. Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty just finished its third season, with Nielsen knighting it the most popular comedy on television, and Bojack Horseman’s fourth season is now available for binging on Netflix. Both shows are regulars in our “best of TV” columns each December, occupying a fair amount of Mockingbird HQ water cooler chitchat. It’s a little silly to think that TV shows featuring an alcoholic super-genius grandfather and a washed up 90s sitcom-star horse garner critical acclaim and commercial success, but that’s…

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    Everybody Touch Somebody: Glory & Grace in Last Chance U

    Everybody Touch Somebody: Glory & Grace in Last Chance U

    The very first shot of the second season of Netflix’s documentary series Last Chance U shows a hot Mississippi sun peeking out through trees. The second shot is of a small church near the rural town of Scooba. The third shot is also of a church, while the audio of a preacher addressing his congregation plays as a voice-over. “As the coach watched himself on that screen, he didn’t like what he saw” expounds the voice-over, referencing the show’s first season. “Can you imagine if a documentary was made about your life? And they followed you, the good the bad,…

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    Another Week Ends: Empathy Gadgets, Billy Joel, Axl Rose, Campus Sinners, Finnish Sports, and an Arvo Pärty

    Another Week Ends: Empathy Gadgets, Billy Joel, Axl Rose, Campus Sinners, Finnish Sports, and an Arvo Pärty

    The biggest news of the week is, of course, the news that Mbird is hosting a Reformation Conference in D.C. this October! Check out the conference page for details, mark your calendars for October 27-28, and get ready celebrate 500 years of the Christian tradition we love so much. Now: onto our regular wrap-up.

    1. Here at West Virginia University, we are a mere 8 days away from move in weekend. It’s been a quiet news summer on the free-speech front, though the think-pieces certainly haven’t stopped coming. As schools prepare for another semester of classes, there are no signs that…

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    Mining Netflix: Lion (2016)

    Mining Netflix: Lion (2016)

    In the Mining Netflix series, we usually post the best of the internet’s films that didn’t get a wide release, or didn’t have a big marketing budget. Not the hipster obscure films, but the good stuff that falls through the cracks, movies most folks might not have had a chance to see. To feature 2016’s Lion in this column is a bit disingenuous. The film garnered six Oscar nominations, though it failed to nab any, and made waves on the film festival circuit too. Still, it’s now on Netflix, and worth a watch for a good cathartic cry. Mild spoilers…

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    Acceptance is the Difference Between Evaluation and Condemnation

    Acceptance is the Difference Between Evaluation and Condemnation

    This passage comes to us from John Jacob Raub’s 1992 book, Who Told You That You Were Naked: Freedom from Judgment, Guilt and Fear of Punishment. Raub is a Trappist Monk from the Abbey of Gethsemani, the abbey Thomas Merton called home. The book, so far, is a deep dive into the helpful waters of psychological Christianity, and his distinction between evaluation and condemnation has been particularly helpful:

    Jesus said, “Do not judge” (Mt 7:1), but just what type of judging was he prohibiting? Certainly we are to make practical judgments. We judge to say “this” rather than “that,” “do this,”…

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    Old Ways and New Ways in Master of None Season 2

    Old Ways and New Ways in Master of None Season 2

    Bust out the Italo and pull out your pasta makers! Aziz Ansari’s Netflix project Master of None is back for season two, exploring the difficulties of love and relationships in 2017. The show continues with storytelling inspired by Aziz’s Modern Romance research project, a book we loved so much that we invited co-author Eric Klinenberg to #MbirdNYC16. Sadly, book deals prevented us from sharing the recording, so just trust me when I report that it was one of the best (funniest? most poignant?) talks at an Mbird gathering from someone “outside” the fold.

    Season one, united by the theme of “fear…

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    A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

    A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

    Readers of the blog may be familiar with the 2001 French film Amélie, an indie love story powered by actor Audrey Tautou’s impish smile and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical storytelling. It’s on Netflix right now–if you’ve got time this week, put the kids to bed, snuggle up with a loved one, pop open a bottle of wine, and enjoy a bit of that inimitable French joie de vivre. 

    Once you’ve caught up by seeing the movie, you can join the rest of the viewers in confusion over the reality that Amélie is now a musical. Attendees at last week’s NYC conference could have taken the N train to…

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    Hopelessly Devoted: Ezekiel Thirty-Seven Verses Four Through Six

    Hopelessly Devoted: Ezekiel Thirty-Seven Verses Four Through Six

    Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord’” (Ezekiel 37:4-6, NIV)

    This is one of the most famous passages in Ezekiel, and what a wild scene! The throwback King James English calls this…

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    Fear Models and Clean Antennae: Pete Holmes on Fresh Air

    Fear Models and Clean Antennae: Pete Holmes on Fresh Air

    Another TV season, another bid for our wallets. HBO is making its case this season with comic Pete Holmes and Judd Apatow’s latest, Crashing. Holmes is famous for his standup comedy and “You Made It Weird” podcast (see our writeup), and his biography of “almost-youth-minister-turned-comic” is one for the annals of Christendom. Fewer ex(?) Evangelicals have articulated so well what a law-saturated theology can do to a person. For those of us who can’t afford HBO-to-go yet, here’s a few lines from Pete Holmes interview on NPR’s Fresh Air that make it hard to say no. Hold on to your wallets!

    On the relationship between…

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    Internet Trolls Have a Case of the Mondays

    Internet Trolls Have a Case of the Mondays

    A doozie of an article from the WSJ last week, provocatively titled, “We’re All Internet Trolls (Sometimes).” The piece highlights recent research out of Stanford and Cornell on the patterns and habits of internet trolling. Like any study of taboo topics, the research has its own missing pieces, but some of the findings are, frankly, revealing:

    New research by computer scientists from Stanford and Cornell universities suggests this sort of thing—a generally reasonable person writing a post or leaving a comment that includes an attack or even outright harassment—happens all the time. The most likely time for people to turn into trolls?…

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