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Slow Zoom Toward the Mysterious Unseen

Slow Zoom Toward the Mysterious Unseen

Here’s a beautiful reflection from our friend, Elsa Wilson.

We don’t do a lot of waiting nowadays. A few extra seconds of Internet load time merits a complaint call. We don’t like waiting, but we’re asked to do a lot of it. We especially don’t like waiting when it comes to movies. We tend to favor fast cuts and snappy punch lines. These movies “reward” the viewers (and also usually the characters) for their time by pairing questions with answers, effects with causes, and situations with explanations. There are actually storytelling formulas that dictate how long the viewer should be left to wonder…

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A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

However many years a man may live,
   let him enjoy them all.
   But let him remember the days of
      darkness,
   for they will be many.
— Ecclesiastes 11:8

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
— John 1:5

I wake up mornings in the darkness, to get ready for work, or writing if it’s a day off. I let my wife sleep and I close the bedroom door after I press the switch for the hall light. I turn on all the lights in the kitchen, even the under-cabinet fixtures that have separate switches because it’s…

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The Cruelty of Age in “The Crown”

The Cruelty of Age in “The Crown”

Carrie Willard’s recent assessment is dead-on — “The Crown” deserves to be savored instead of binged. In the ninth episode, one of the more interesting subplots had the artist Graham Sutherland being commissioned to paint Winston Churchill’s portrait for his 80th birthday [spoilers follow]. Churchill (John Lithgow) is anything but a willing subject, nor is he excited about the unveiling of the finished product before an audience at Westminster Abbey. And while the audience applauds politely at the unveiling, Churchill’s initial disgust is barely masked by a forced smile. “A fine patriotic piece of modern art,” he manages.

After hearing that Churchill has…

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“Young, Scrappy, and Hungry”:  The Restless Hearts of Hamilton, Bruce Springsteen, and St. Augustine

“Young, Scrappy, and Hungry”: The Restless Hearts of Hamilton, Bruce Springsteen, and St. Augustine

This one comes to us from Nancy Ritter. 

If you had told me in 2010 that in six years I would spend my Saturday nights watching a documentary on a musical about Alexander Hamilton or cheering its star Lin-Manuel Miranda as he hosted SNL, I would have scoffed at you. I was in high school when a friend showed me the video of the Pulitzer Prize-winning star performing at the White House for the Obamas, rapping about the life of Alexander Hamilton. I had been raised on 1776 and was consequently a loyal John Adams girl.

“I’m not into it,” I told her….

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Reflections on Art, Irony, and the Good News of Goosebumps

Reflections on Art, Irony, and the Good News of Goosebumps

Children’s book author Adam Gidwitz rang in the most wonderful time of the year (October, what else?) with an article in The New Yorker about the world-renowned series, Goosebumps. Marveling at the franchise’s unparalleled success, Gidwitz posed an unexpectedly contentious question: Should good children’s books teach a lesson?

The conundrum of the “good” children’s book is best embodied by the apparently immortal—or maybe just undead—series “Goosebumps,” by R. L. Stine. “Goosebumps” is a series of horror novellas, the kid’s-lit equivalent of B-horror movies. It’s also one of the most successful franchises in the business, selling over three hundred and fifty million copies…

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Run Don’t Walk: ‘Martin Luther’s Reformation’ at the Morgan Library in New York

Run Don’t Walk: ‘Martin Luther’s Reformation’ at the Morgan Library in New York

Calling all Mockingbirds! Attention, all Mockingbirds!

Adam and Eve in excellent company

Run Don’t Walk to the Martin Luther exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York. And first let’s get a couple of details straight. The Morgan is at the corner of 36th Street and Madison Avenue, which is exactly six blocks south of Grand Central Station. You can check out the opening hours on line, and the Morgan is only closed Mondays. Also, it’s a great place to go to the bathroom — always an issue in New York — and the cafe is excellent, and never crowded. Plus,…

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The Beatific Vision of Knight of Cups Director Terrence Malick

The Beatific Vision of Knight of Cups Director Terrence Malick

This post was written by Gilbert Colon.

A Vanity Fair headline commenting on the trailer for filmmaker Terrence Malick’s recent film Knight of Cups – starring Christian Bale as a lost soul screenwriter wandering the wasteland of hedonistic Hollywood – read “Existential Despair Is So, So Beautiful” (by Nick Romano, 11/25/15), as if Malick’s body of work was merely the empty aestheticization of suffering. Some commentators, perhaps parroting one another, went so far as to dismiss his films as feature-length perfume ads, but these detractors have entirely missed Malick’s point.

If Malick’s films are indeed existentialism, they are the existentialism of Søren…

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Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty”  (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 2

Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty” (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 2

This is the second part of Benjamin Self’s reflection on beauty. Check out part one here.

“Is it true, prince, that you once declared that ‘beauty would save the world’? Great Heaven! The prince says that beauty saves the world! And I declare that he only has such playful ideas because he’s in love! Gentlemen, the prince is in love. I guessed it the moment he came in. Don’t blush, prince; you make me sorry for you. What beauty saves the world?”

— Ippolit, in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot

I.

As I attempt to expand a little further on this whole theory that…

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Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty”  (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 1

Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty” (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 1

This fascinating piece comes to us from Benjamin Self. This is the first in a two-part reflection.

My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
my heart is sick…
For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?

— Jeremiah 8: 18, 21-22

Painting by Gerald Cassidy

I.

The Sunday evening after this summer’s June 12th shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, several members of my church and I joined a few thousand other people from Louisville and Jeffersonville on the Big Four Bridge over the…

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Love Imputed: Grace in Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program

Love Imputed: Grace in Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program

This one comes to us from our friend Lindsey Hepler.

At a conference in Philadelphia two weeks ago, I heard Jane Golden, the Founder and Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, speak about her work in the city for the past three decades. Established in 1984 as a city-funded anti-graffiti project under the leadership of Philadelphia’s first black mayor, the organization is now the largest public art program in the U.S, with a collection of over 4,000 murals. Their programs address many of the city’s “intractable problems” through civic engagement, art education, restorative justice, and mental health services….

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In the Valley of the Blind

In the Valley of the Blind

This post comes to us from Bobby Goodrich. 

A general in the Athenian navy, Sophocles had seen the empire at its height, and he’d also seen it falter. He’d seen the dream that was Athens crumble under it’s own hubris as one Greek city-state, and then another, chafed under Athenian despotism and broke ranks. He watched as her people suffered under Spartan blockade and plague ravaged the city–and it was in the midst of this decline that he penned Oedipus Rex, a play that is actually not primarily about incest (Freud’s interest notwithstanding) but about human ignorance.

See, the real tragedy of Oedipus…

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Beyoncé, Lemonade, and the Things We Inherit

Beyoncé, Lemonade, and the Things We Inherit

This one comes to us from Heather Strong Moore.

What happens when one of the most successful and influential artists of our time experiences a deep and fairly public heartbreak? She takes those lemons and makes them into Lemonade. Beyoncé’s “visual album” was released on April 23rd and already it’s made history with every track appearing on the Top 100 charts. In her hour-long film that accompanies the majority of the tracks, she tells the story of a broken relationship and the process one goes through when one’s life falls apart.

This story appears to be about her 8-year marriage to Jay-Z and a…

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