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In Praise of Excess: The Beauty of Babette’s Feast

In Praise of Excess: The Beauty of Babette’s Feast

Another sneak peek into the Food & Drink Issue, which will be on sale at the conference this weekend! Ethan’s essay is all about grace in the 1987 Danish film (and Oscar winner) Babette’s Feast.

Last winter, my wife Hannah found out she has celiac disease, the rare autoimmune disorder that means you can’t eat gluten. Contrary to the many gluten-free fads that have taken the nation by storm, people with celiac suffer a gluten intolerance that is microscopically comprehensive. The smallest gluten part per million—a dust particle in a vat of soup—can wreak havoc on her stomach.

The fact that we’re in…

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The Beautiful Truth of Collateral Beauty

The Beautiful Truth of Collateral Beauty

In the Gospel reading appointed for Good Friday, Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?” He seems to really want to know. He seems to be searching for an answer to explain this bruised and beaten Jew standing before him and the chaotic scene outside in his courtyard. And the truth is what we come to church seeking each Good Friday. With Pilate we ask, “What is truth?” We show up before God on the day commemorating Christ’s death for us, asking such questions as, Why was this necessary? Why did God have to die for us? Why would God die for…

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Beneath the Pelagian Surface of Moana: A Conference Breakout Preview

Beneath the Pelagian Surface of Moana: A Conference Breakout Preview

Allow me to channel SNL’s Bennett Brauer (Chris Farley):

I don’t “read much” and I don’t
“look the part” I’m not
“seminary trained” or even
“theologically inclined.”

I don’t “know what ‘Pelagian’ means” and I
“don’t look comfortable in front of an audience” I
“sleep in my make-up” and
“also with stuffed animals” I guess I
“talk too much” and I
“sweat when I’m nervous” and I
“can’t remember names” because I’m
“too concerned with myself” even though I
“don’t bathe regularly” and I’ve
“let myself go.”

I haven’t “learned my lesson” my
“coffee hasn’t kicked in yet” I haven’t
“kept calm” or
“found my bliss” but I’m
“talking at this conference anyway.”

On the surface of things, Moana (Disney)…

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Beauty and (the Mark of) the Beast

Beauty and (the Mark of) the Beast

This second reflection on the revived Disney classic is written by Dustin Messer. 

“Winter turns to spring / Famine turns to feast / Nature points the way / Nothing left to say / Beauty and the Beast.” –Mrs. Potts

“Sleep is an image of death that is repeated every night. So the morning is the image of the resurrection. So the spring of the year is an image of the resurrection.” –Jonathan Edwards

How will the dark curse be broken? Sacrificial love. In the stunning new remake of Beauty and the Beast, Disney stayed true to this central theme. And why shouldn’t they?…

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The Gospel According to Beauty and the Beast

The Gospel According to Beauty and the Beast

Well, Disney, you did it again. You brought yet another animated classic to life with stunning costumes and incredible effects, transporting every audience member back to her childhood.

I am referring, of course, to Beauty and the Beast. Although a more seasoned film critic might find fault with aspects of the movie—yes, parts are slightly hokey and some of the acting is off—I would advise against arguing about the quality of the movie with a 90s kid who grew up on this story and was thrilled at the idea of enjoying it again. I loved every minute of it. I laughed. I…

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Can Love Survive Addiction and Co-Dependency?

This is a serious honor. We’ve received permission from filmmaker Kurt Neale to post his incredible new documentary, Ask: Can Love Survive Addiction and Co-Dependency?, here on Mockingbird. As you’ll see, he and his crew have given us an enormous gift, not just to those of us who’ve experienced the fearful realities of addiction and co-dependency, but to anyone who has drawn breath in the world described in Romans 7. Not to mention anyone who’s come into contact with what Andrew Sullivan calls “this generation’s AIDS crisis”. You could almost call it Grace in Addiction: The Movie. That is, the whole thing brims with honesty and humanity and compassion and, yes, real hope–the Polyphonic Spree is just icing on the cake.

Naturally, the film contains mature subject matter and language. Viewer discretion is advised.

P.S. As you’ll see, this is a work of art ideally suited for discussion. If you’re interested, I know Kurt and co are open to arranging screenings around the country. You can contact him via his website.

P.P.S. If it all sounds a tad on the heavy-side, fast forward to minute 1:19 for a hilarious Easter egg.

The Ultimate Apocalypse

The Ultimate Apocalypse

Just in time for spring, this one comes to us from our fellow survivor, Zack Verham.

“Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves?” – The First History Man (Mad Max: Fury Road)

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” – 1 John 5:11 (NRSV)

My all-time favorite book is Frank Herbert’s Dune. It’s a complete four-course science fiction buffet for nerds across the land, and it’s fundamentally post-apocalyptic. The world-building Herbert undertakes is extravagantly meticulous, and the universe as it stands when the…

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Defending The Shack (Sort Of)

Defending The Shack (Sort Of)

A look at the controversial film adaptation, this one comes to us from Bill Walker.

It will perhaps be no surprise to many readers here to learn that, overall, The Shack is simply not a high quality film. It has already received scathing reviews by critics, and for very understandable reasons, even if the popular viewership has been moderately receptive.

A movie like Martin Scorsese’s Silence, for example, is arguably superior to The Shack, and it’s unfortunate, in my opinion, that more people will likely see the latter than the former. But unlike Silence, and this isn’t unimportant, The Shack is a film that…

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“Logan” (Wolverine) – The Incarnate Superman

“Logan” (Wolverine) – The Incarnate Superman

I’ve never been a Superman guy. I think that started when he reversed the rotation of the earth to save Lois Lane. It just seemed sooo…lame. My logic was simple: if a superhero is so strong that he can (one) stop the earth’s movement, and (two) PUSH IT BACK in the opposite direction, who can beat him? For me, buying into Superman was like randomly deciding that I was a Cowboys fan who never lived in Texas, or a Yankees fan who had never traveled west of the Mississippi. Superman fandom felt like “front-runnerism” — i.e. “I’ve picked the best…

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The Red Turtle, Beautiful but Not Sublime

The Red Turtle, Beautiful but Not Sublime

The following is brought to us by Japanese film veteran Jeremiah Lawson, a look at the Oscar-nominated film The Red Turtle.

There are times when you simply have to spoil the entire film in a few sentences to even discuss the film in a meaningful way. Where some reviewers hedge and equivocate as to what the core of the story for The Red Turtle is, I’m going to put in simple terms.

Think of the world as an island; then think of the island as being embodied in flesh and spirit by a red turtle. The Red Turtle — a feature-length film from Studio…

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Desmond Doss, the Coward

Desmond Doss, the Coward

This look at the critically acclaimed film, Hacksaw Ridge, comes to us from our friend Josh Encinias.

I loved being in the House of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in college, but if I were to create a Christian fraternity today, it would be under a different namesake: Desmond Doss. Prince is the most famous former Seventh-day Adventist, but Doss is the most important Adventist you’ve never heard of. I recently spoke to David Permut, producer of Hacksaw Ridge—who walked away with two Academy Awards last night—who said he wanted to turn Doss’ story into a feature film for sixteen years before it happened.

“When I…

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Roll Credits: Freedom, Grace and the Neverending Sequel – David Zahl

Here is the grand finale video/talk from our recent Mockingbird event in Dallas, “Grace on the Big Screen.” Enjoy!

Roll Credits: Freedom, Grace and the Neverending Sequel – David Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.