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Call Me Aaron Burr, Sir

Call Me Aaron Burr, Sir

During a 1995 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, Pat Conroy related a story about his father, Don, that epitomized the patriarch’s delusional view of identity. The two men were discussing why Pat’s mother left Don when the elder Conroy broke down sobbing. Thinking that Don had finally realized the error of the ways, Pat quoted the ensuing conversation to Gross: “‘Dad, do you understand what you did wrong?’ And Dad said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘What is it, Dad? What did you do wrong?’ And my father said, ‘I was too good. I didn’t crack down hard enough. I was…

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To the End of the Line: Captain America: Civil War and the Demands of Love

To the End of the Line: Captain America: Civil War and the Demands of Love

How far would you go for your friend?

Not an acquaintance, not an associate, not a work buddy: a friend, your companion, the counterpart whom you love. To what length would you go to protect her? Is there anything that would compel you to hesitate rushing to his side? What if the entire world were arrayed against him? Would you consider what the world had to say for even a second? Or would you grit your teeth and absorb its fury like a lightning rod for the one you love? Captain America: Civil War poses this question and shows us how…

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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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All is Lost and Yet, All is Not Lost

All is Lost and Yet, All is Not Lost

I finally caught up with the nearly dialogue-free Robert Redford film All is Lost (written and directed by J.C. Chandor, writer/director of Margin Call). Redford stars as “Our Man”, an aging-but-capable mariner who finds himself lost at sea. Apart from a bit of opening narration (Redford reading what amounts to a giving-up-on-life note, telling loved ones that he tried, and that he’s sorry) and a screamed expletive when he realizes that all might indeed be lost, the only lines in the film are Redford calling out to a couple of passing ships for help.

The ships don’t stop. All is lost.

And…

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Toiling to Make Film Life from Comic Death: Batman v Superman Invokes and Bungles Two Canons

Toiling to Make Film Life from Comic Death: Batman v Superman Invokes and Bungles Two Canons

From our comic book expert, Wenatchee the Hatchet, here is a critical take on the recent blockbuster, Batman v Superman.

Prelude to Two Problems

As the “dawn” of the DC cinematic franchise, Batman v Superman falls apart at what I would call the level of mythos. This film had the dual task of continuing the story of Henry Cavill’s Superman from Man of Steel while introducing a new Batman. But the failure of the film is in its invocation of the images, iconography and concepts of two different canons: the Judeo-Christian canon, and the canon of DC comics. It might be expected that the…

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The Limits of the Self in King Louie’s Temple

The Limits of the Self in King Louie’s Temple

“Oobee doo! I wanna be like you! I wanna walk like you, talk like you, too. You’ll see it’s true—an ape like me can learn to be human too!”

While some of the story has been changed or updated since the 60s, one thing you absolutely can look forward to in the new Jungle Book is a snazzy rendition of the song, “I Wanna Be Like You,” sung by King Louie, the ape who wants to be human. Where in the old Disney movie King Louie was an orangutan, in the new version he takes on the form of a Gigantopithecus, a…

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The Disappointing Heroism of Indiana Jones

The Disappointing Heroism of Indiana Jones

This one comes from Mockingbird friend, Jared (Indy) Jones. 

For my birthday a few weeks ago I got an amazing gift: the complete Blu-Ray set of all four Indiana Jones films. (Yes, there are four of them; no you cannot just pretend the fourth one was never made.) Indy has been in the news lately since Spielberg and Ford agreed to take a shot at a fifth installment in the franchise, which is as yet untitled (though some pretty amazing titles are already being thrown around). Indiana Jones 5 will almost certainly be… Actually, I have no idea if it will be good or not.

These movies hold…

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Wes Anderson and the Catastrophe of Redemption – David Zahl

To tide you over until Mockingbird in NYC, here’s another talk from our conference in Tyler, TX. David Zahl speaks about the Gospel according to Wes Anderson.

Wes Anderson and the Catastrophe of Redemption – David Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

The Future’s Past: Time Travel and Justification in Fiction, the Bible and You – A Conference Breakout Preview

Here’s another preview of a breakout session for the upcoming Mockingbird Conference in NYC on April 14-16!

If one accepts the premise that pop culture expresses, sometimes despite itself, every essential truth of modern life*, then the screenwriters’ super-cliche, “I should have killed you when I had the chance,” is a mirror to our souls. We are awash in regret. Opportunity, whatever it was, has been missed and so failures past have compromised the future. Time is not on our side, but an enemy we must control.

*This is Mockingbird. Of course you accept it.

Where science has failed to provide a solution, fiction has succeeded: time travel. Starships and superheroes, Time Lords and terminators, and yes, Bill and Ted have all excellently ventured through the ages to set things right. Time travel is more than a plot device–in practically every case, it is a symbol for the ability of human beings to correct ourselves and our world. Which is to say, time travel is always about justification.

That is ample reason to explore time travel from a Christian perspective. But there is much more to consider. The Bible makes startling assertions about time and where we stand in it. A dying Moses addresses a generation who never saw the Exodus, yet speaks as if they had, a generation of time travelers. Hebrews tells of Christ who appeared once, at the end of the ages, to remove our sin–but the ages roll on and the death of Christ is long past.

You can’t get very far in any biblical discussion of Jesus and his love for sinners without running hard into questions about time–what time is it? Is now the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel? The question of who we are is inextricably linked to the question of when we are.  And so, we might also say that justification is always about time travel.

In this breakout, we’ll discuss time travel and justification along these two avenues, fiction and the Bible, enlisting the aid of as many famous travelers as we can manage, and then take a hard look at where the two trajectories slam into one another. Along the way we might discover what real time travel looks like, how it’s done, and why it’s the boldest good news you’ll ever hear.

bill-and-teds-excellent-adventure-sigmund-freud

Pre-register here!

Rock Meets Bottom: When Love Finds Deadpool

Rock Meets Bottom: When Love Finds Deadpool

This post comes to us from our friend RJ Grunewald.

After an experimental treatment turns Wade Wilson into a mutant with healing powers–while simultaneously retaining his wit and a crude sense of humor–Wade Wilson becomes Deadpool and gives himself to hunting down and destroying the man who left him disfigured and ruined.

Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to have the story ruined for you, you should probably stop reading this.

Wade Wilson, before becoming Deadpool, is a sarcastic, profane, and funny vigilante. He’s a bad guy who deals with worse guys. Wade uses his wit and looks to get with whatever women…

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#OscarsSoRighteous

#OscarsSoRighteous

Here’s another one from Eric D.S. Dorman:

This man was robbed!

The 2016 Academy Awards demonstrated once again (in Full HD) that the Oscars are no longer about celebrating filmmaking, but peddling righteousness. It’s a platform for the arbiters of uprightness to parade in front of viewers everything they’re required to care about in order to safeguard their justification. It’s a theater for displaying self-salvation.

The environment and indigenous peoples. Sexual violence and marriage equality. Transphobia and sexism. Racism and war and partisan politics and mental illness. Every issue emphatically declared or emotionally acknowledged, and each met with enthusiastic approval.

It’s not that…

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PZ’s Podcast: Cursed Objects

PZ’s Podcast: Cursed Objects

Episode 212: Cursed Objects

There was a silly vicar in an English stage revue entitled “Beyond the Fringe”. His sermon was a total send-up. (You can Youtube it easily.)

Recently, however, I was in a situation in which that spoof came across as gravitationally serious. I was engaging — unsuccessfully — a problem of some long standing, and nothing was working! Not my spiritual director, not my small group, not my meditations, not the dharma, not my flesh and blood nor my friends. Nothing was working. Then I remembered an illustration from the satirical sermon in “Beyond the Fringe”, the one about…

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