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Film/Music/TV

Water, Blood and Gasoline: The Full-Throttle Gospel of Mad Max: Fury Road

Water, Blood and Gasoline: The Full-Throttle Gospel of Mad Max: Fury Road

This one comes to us from Adam Morton, who tell us at the outset that, “While I do my best to minimize them, if you’re concerned about spoilers, rush out now and see the film.”

“My name is Max. My world is fire and blood.” The film’s opening words declare an existence that is already hell, life and death hardly distinguishable under universal wrath. Small pockets of humanity, if not civilization, persist within the wastelands, the scraps of the Before Time (an Edenic memory of our world) savagely contested among desert warlords and their gangs of deranged motorheads. Ordinary folk are…

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The Final Confession of Donald Draper

The Final Confession of Donald Draper

Spoilers, people, spoilers.

“I broke all my vows. I scandalized my child. I took another man’s name and made nothing of it.”

Thus goes the bottoming out we’ve been waiting for these past 7-8 years from Don Draper. His long dismantling, both self-instigated and otherwise, reached its endpoint in Mad Men‘s finale. Don’s marriage, his position, his children are gone–the various phone calls make that clear. Even his “niece” Stephanie refuses to let him be needed, going so far as to remove his last shred of agency, stranding him at the retreat center. Reduced to nothing, Don makes his confession to…

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Being Human in an Age of Ultron

Being Human in an Age of Ultron

This review comes to us from Ian Olson – spoilers follow.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is a bafflingly different film from its cherished predecessor. It takes enormous risks which, when they succeed, succeed spectacularly, but at their worst only fail to spark. What The Godfather Part II is to The Godfather, Age of Ultron is to the first Avengers, and the enlargement of scope and emotional intensity smooth out the splintered edges where Joss Whedon’s vision outstripped his reach. Its scope is astonishingly wide: it probes an array of existential questions and, in true Whedon fashion, doesn’t shy away from…

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No Human Voice: A Review of Doug Burr’s Pale White Dove

No Human Voice: A Review of Doug Burr’s Pale White Dove

This comes to us from Matt Redmond:

And I stepped out slowly between that sordid throng
Comin’ not a word – soundin’ like a song
While it just kept goin’, I just walked on
A song with no human voice

I don’t know where Doug Burr gets his songs from. But I would assume they come from a similar place as Flannery O’Connor’s stories. You expect Hazel Motes or The Misfit to show up any moment.

The first song I ever heard from Burr came out of nowhere. After stumbling onto a website looking for something else, I found myself listening to…

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May Playlist

Bill Fay Asks Who Is the Sender?

What a supremely pleasant surprise to find out that Bill Fay, one of our all-time favorites, has a new record coming out next week, Who Is The Sender? It’s streaming over at NPR as we speak. The tracklisting alone yields several possible future offertories, e.g., “Bring It On Lord”, “A Frail and Broken One”, and the title track, which Bill explains in the press release this way:

What the piano taught [Fay] was how to connect to one of the great joys of his life. “Music gives,” he says. And he is a grateful receiver. But, it makes him wonder, “Who is the sender?” Fay – who after more than five decades writing songs is finally being appreciated as one of our finest living practitioners of the art – asserts that, for him, songs aren’t actually written but found…

The joy and sadness are indeed deep in this material, which Bill describes as “alternative gospel”. Though it clearly stems from his belief, he doesn’t seek to proselytise or convert anybody, but just hopes to share the concerns he puts into the words and the feelings that he receives from the music: “Goodness, beauty, comfort. If something gives in the world, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Maybe that’s what music wants to do.”

Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

From our Work and Play Issue, this list comes from Jamin Warren, who blew minds at MbirdNYC15 this past Friday. For those who want more Jamin, his gaming festival Two5Six is taking place in May, and the lineup looks pretty unbelievable. He’s also hinted at an Mbird group rate, which if you go here you can redeem.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, an esteemed, well-respected cultural historian named Johan Huizinga undertook a very strange project given his post. He wanted to understand the nature of play in all of its forms. What Huizinga found and subsequently argued was that…

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“This American Life ” – On Re-purposing Our Monuments of Shame

This American Life ” – On Re-purposing Our Monuments of Shame

There was a great story on NPR’s “This American Life” this week.  Back in 1999, on an annual list of 354 U.S. & Canada Cities, Kankakee, Illinois was voted the worst – number 354. The criterion included crime rate per capita, climate, unemployment rate, etc. When the list came out, David Letterman (a nearby Indiana native) felt some compassion for Kankakee, knowing that they had (like a lot of Mid-West towns at the time) lost a lot of lot key industries in the 90’s, leaving the town a shell of itself.  The last thing he felt that the town needed…

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You’ll Always Be a Part of Billy Joel

You’ll Always Be a Part of Billy Joel

For the first few years I sang our son lullabies, I was very intentional about him only hearing church hymns. We’d rock to “Lift High the Cross” or “Let us Break Bread Together.” Sometimes, if I was feeling really crazy, I’d throw in the Doxology. I know, I’m intense.

My aims were good. I wanted the music of the church to be a part of his earliest memories. And what better way to do it than in those sweet moments just before bedtime?

And then, at around the age of 2, he started to rebel. It was the Christmas season that did…

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Bridging Church and Culture: A Conference Breakout Preview

Bridging Church and Culture: A Conference Breakout Preview

Seven years ago, Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA renovated a small, single-car garage into a downtown art space and then guess what we named it? We named it The Garage. Since then we’ve hosted monthly art openings, potluck dinners, letter-writing days, some amateur film screenings and literally hundreds of concerts (five years ago, The Lumineers played in front of eight people on a rainy Sunday, long before they were writing songs for The Hunger Games, #neverforget). The space opens out onto a street and, during concerts, passers-by either gather at the entrance or in a park on the other…

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Things Happen (to Dawes)

Yesterday NPR debuted the new video by Dawes, for “Things Happen”, the terrific first single from their upcoming album, All Your Favorite Bands (out June 2). Who plays the central troubadour in the Sgt Pepper suit? You may remember him from such projects as The Mockingbird Devotional, and this post. Nate Michaux is my hero:

Pick Up Your La-Z-Boy and Follow Me: An NYC Conference Preview

The Theology of False Absolution in Christian Kitsch

i-115d13b18d3b104621321fd8c7cc6c6f-chief_of_the_medical_staff_greene_lHave you ever unsuspectingly picked up a novelty mug from your local Christian book store, looked at the image on its side and found yourself thinking, “Hey, I thought Rembrandt was the ‘Painter of Light’? Who does this Thomas Kinkade guy think he is anyway!?” Well, you’re not alone! Join us as we explore how paintings and visual art speak a language all of their own; some words of which ring more true than you think, and others…well, you didn’t really think Kinkade’s work qualified as fine art, did you? J

1) First, we’ll look at paintings by artists such as Warner Sallman and Thomas Kinkade, and consider what the paintings themselves communicate about theology (by examining what subject they depict, and, more importantly, how).

2) Next, we’ll consider the theology of the gospel itself, and in what ways these paintings support or supplant that message.

3) Finally, we’ll examine works by Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon, and Vincent van Gough (among others), and repeat our strategy from above, though hopefully with a different outcome!

If you’re an artist, a theologian, or just an amateur art historian who’s curious to see in what ways theology and visual art may intersect, this breakout session is for you. The format of this session will be conversational, so come ready with lots of questions.

Pre-Register for our NYC Conference today!