On the viral video front, there is an incredible story circulating about Kevin Richardson, the so-call “Lion Whisperer,” a South African zoologist (not the Backstreet Boy) who playfully interacts with lions and hyenas on animal sanctuaries. While watching the video, I kept thinking to myself this guy is crazy and going to end up like the Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin or Timothy Treadwell, the subject of the film Grizzly Man, who were both killed by the wild animals they studied. In comparison though, there is something very fascinating and almost otherworldly about how comfortable Richardson is with these lions—they actually know him and…
Another Week Ends: Secret Auden, Eagleton Deicide, Remembering Wes, Method Acting, True Detective, and Russian Tourist Tips
1. Holy smokes! Have you read Edward Mendelson’s “The Secret Auden” in the NY Review of Books?! If not, run don’t walk. It’s a jaw-dropping, incredibly inspiring catalog of the clandestine episodes of grace initiated by our all-time favorite Wystan–about as honest a Matthew 6:5 vibe as I’ve come across in ages. Lest these remarkable stories be dismissed as mere hagiography, Mendelson (author of the indispensable Later Auden) doesn’t lionize the great poet, instead tracing the ‘good works’ back to their root–which is not a sense of earning or credit (clearly) but of genuine humility brought on by piercing self-knowledge….
Some thoughts on grace and the new LEGO movie come from Michael Belote, author of the wonderful reboot:Christianity blog and author of Rise of the Time Lords, doubtless the best (review here) geeky intro to Christian doctrine available.
Something weird is happening in Hollywood. Just four months ago, the world was introduced to Frozen, a children’s movie chock-full of theological nuance. As I wrote at the time, I felt like this was the best religious movie in years, and figured it would be quite a while until I saw something similar.
Boy was I wrong.
A few weeks ago, I took my sons (who are…
The first issue of The Mockingbird, our brand new quarterly magazine, is in the mail! If you signed up for our mailing list, you should have one coming to you, free of charge. If haven’t, sign up before March 1st and we’ll happily send you one. If you want to subscribe, look no further than magazine.mbird.com. (Remember, Mockingbird’s monthly donors receive a free subscription!)
In the meantime, here’s the line-up for our maiden voyage.
The Real Real Orange County: Looking Back on MTV’s Laguna Beach by Dan Varley
There Is Nothing the Matter with My Heart: Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and My Myth of Me by Zach Williams
For the Record: Mockingbird’s Netflix Queue, Must-Hear TED Talks, A Kurosawa Primer, Top 5 Church Debates, and an Elvis Gospel Playlist
Transformational: The Hidden Spirituality of America’s Great Movement by Ethan Richardson
“Friends Don’t Get Serious”: John Cassavetes, James Baldwin and Tall Tales of Angry Men by Charlotte Hornsby
When a Measure Becomes a Target: Inside the Economics of Repentance by Will McDavid
A New Way to Tell It: An Interview with Francis Spufford (click here for a preview)
A Vision for the Storms by Blake Ian Collier
Coming to Terms with the American Hero Fix by Sarah Condon
Dying to Live: What Are the Side Effects of the Modern Hospital? by R-J Heijmen
This one comes to us from Netflix aficionado/guru Joe Nooft:
It’s over. The carnage is finished. Some blood may have been shed, but we made it; we survived. Yes, Valentine’s Day came and went. Your sentiment to its 362 day hibernation probably banks on your personal Facebook status, or maybe the functionality of your love life. Depending on your relational footing, last week may have been on the receiving end of a stubborn battering ram armed with personal complaints, all strategically targeting last Friday’s holiday. Or perhaps you drowned last week in an overflow of pastel colored, heart shaped candies, tattooed…
Another Week Ends: Hoffman and Addiction, Parenting Confessionals, Harris v Haidt, Trite Apologies, Super Bowl Commercials and Transform(ers)ational Ministry
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, of Magnolia and, more recently, The Master fame, passed away this week in what the press generally called a “heroin overdose”. On the subject of addiction, it was painful and touching recalling his role in Owning Mahowny, and a moving reflection on Hoffman’s death comes from fellow Hollywood icon and recovering addict Aaron Sorkin at Time, ht BJ:
I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant…
This comes from Emily Stubbs:
Spike Jonze’s newest film, Her, is beautiful, provocative, and, above all, relevant. Man (Theodore Twombley, played by Joaquin Phoenix) falls for highly evolved, Siri-like Operating System next door (Samantha, voice played by none other than Scarlett Johansson). Given its subject matter, the film speaks to many of the fantasies that we place in technology. In this modern era known as the digital age, not only is technology going to cure cancer but also my loneliness. Our desire for deep emotional connection—the new driving force behind technology—culminates in the creation of the OS that, at least for…
The first time I realized Philip Seymour Hoffman was astonishing was when I saw the movie Magnolia. In it he plays the character of a nurse named Phil Parma. Phil has been charged with caring for an elderly man dying of brain cancer. As is the case with so many nurses, Phil goes far beyond the call of duty, and attempts to connect the dying man with his prodigal son. It is a beautiful movie about the desperate pain and honesty of the human condition. And it seems appropriate that in remembering the life of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I think of this compassionate character first.
I suppose the second…
Sunday was Groundhog Day. As is my tradition (and should be yours if it isn’t already), I watched Groundhog Day the film, again (BING!). I also watched the DVD extras, which include some fascinating commentary from director Harold Ramis, also of Stripes, Caddyshack, and (Egon in) Ghostbusters fame. Unfortunately, the DVD special features I want to share with you are not available online, but I found a very similar and short interview with Ramis below. In these interviews he explains why the film continues to be a timeless existential classic applicable to anyone’s life situation, or religion, capable of saying new things to them each time they watch it. By the way, if you haven’t seen Groundhog Day yet, it’s about time—don’t wait till next February. Buy it so you can watch the special features.
Another issue from Joe Nooft.
“I’m from where people get shot on a regular basis, and it’s nothing.” That place is not Pine Hill. No, Pine Hill is tranquil, painted with gold beams of sunlight that singe through a thick forest canopy, and where the bluebird song saturates the crisp air. In Pine Hill the pace of life is stripped down to pure existence, life and death. No, Pine Hill is not where Abu, the 300+ pound African American protagonist, is from, but it is where he is going.
I was initially skeptical about picking Welcome…
This one comes to us from Brandon Bennett:
Apple recently put out an excellent advertisement—as always—for its iPad Air in which you hear Professor Keating (Robin Williams) from the 1989 film Dead Poets Society quote Walt Whitman’s “O Me! O Life!”:
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,…
What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Then Professor Keating asks, “What will your verse be?”
In other words, into this grand tapestry…
This one comes to us from Joe Nooft:
I love sad movies: the tear-imposing, hope-impairing films that by their finale have lost all resolve. If I go to a cinema to see what I anticipate will be a gloomy movie, I want to leave that theater, two hours later, in shambles. I want to get into my car and ride home in silence. A necessary silence because I know that no melody can parallel the mental melancholia of what I just experienced in that cold, dark theater. I love sad movies. Weird? Maybe.
As someone who wastes way too much time…
Another Week Ends: The Geel System, Secular Happiness, GMOs, the Faith of Malcolm Gladwell, and Bobby Petrino (Again)
1) Aeon covers the small, “half-crazy” Belgian town of Geel, where the mentally ill have taken refuge and been given a family for over seven centuries. Given its reputation in the 1300s after the martyr Dymphna was killed by her mentally ill father, the town has become well-known by Belgians as a place of respite for the mentally handicapped, where they are brought into a family and treated as such. The tradition continues today, and people wonder where the lines have been drawn between “therapy,” whatever that means, and “belonging.” The people of Geel even built a hospital on the…