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Innocent Bystanders, Assemble! The Viewer’s Perspective in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Innocent Bystanders, Assemble! The Viewer’s Perspective in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

This reflection comes to us from Tim Peoples.

I’m no hero, and that was brought home to me in a three-month binge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (twelve films and three TV series…thanks very much, Age of Ultron marketing!).

Several works in the MCU follow a wider cultural trend of the deconstruction of the American male (ht DZ at the Love, Suffering, and Creativity conference), which shows us how low our anthropology should be. For example, the Iron Man trilogy is mostly about Tony Stark’s attempt to atone for war profiteering, and the third installment even provides a post-Iraq/Afghanistan meditation on post-traumatic…

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Good Poems for Hard Times: A Love Letter to Garrison Keillor

Good Poems for Hard Times: A Love Letter to Garrison Keillor

In a preaching class in seminary we were all told to go around the room and tell everyone our name, where we were from, and who our favorite preacher was. While I knew it probably wasn’t the right answer, the truest answer for me was that my favorite preacher was, and still is, the magnificent Garrison Keillor.

To say that I loved Garrison Keillor with all my heart would be an understatement. I grew up on Public Radio in Mississippi. Which means that as a child I heard loads of classical music and Morning Edition. And while this was likely good…

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A Tale of Two Podcasts

A Tale of Two Podcasts

I recently went back to work (does one day a week count as going back? I say YES!) and, with a thirty-minute-minimum commute each way, wondered how to make the most of my hour spent in the car. I wanted to use the time effectively–productively, even–because, as a parent of young kids, I look at blocks of alone time much like Gollum looks at the ring.

After completing and singing the praises of Serial, I searched for another podcast that could fill my commute and leave me more informed than when I ambivalently climbed into the car that morning, tears both blurring and…

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Serially Forgiven

Serially Forgiven

I realize I’m late to the party, but I recently devoured the podcast Serial over the span of six days. (I also recently discovered what podcasts are, that they are free, and that I can use them to drown out the whines of my two children while driving around town–my version of Riding in Cars with Boys.) As the mother of two young children, I’m used to being late to all parties these days, if attending them at all. But I had become clued in to the addictive nature of the Adnan Syed story by inescapable zeitgeist (for me, this consists of…

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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 Gonna Clean that Up?…”I. Just. Can’t.”

You Gonna Clean that Up?…”I. Just. Can’t.”

A friend of mine who is working the 12 Steps recently said, “one of the most important things I do every morning is make the bed after I get up”. He went on to say that this simple discipline sets a tone for the day. This seemingly mundane task says, “I care about my life, I care about the people around me, and what I do matters”.

I thought about my friend’s comment this week when I listened to a podcast conversation between comedian Marc Maron (on a Dec 2014 episode of his WTF weekly podcast, h/t B.I.C.) and his longtime…

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My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

Say what? I was out for a jog this week and I had to stop, take out my earbuds to squeegee out my ears with my fingers, hit rewind, and hear that again. Did Ira Glass just disparage Frank Sinatra? Ira Glass is the creator and executive producer of NPR’s weekly podcast “This American Life”. I was made privy to this can’t-miss weekly series by this Mockingbird post a while back, and I’ve been riveted every week since.

Each week’s podcast features 3 segments of real life Americana stories that are centered on a basic (and usually innocuous) theme. The December…

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Serial, Contradictions, and the Jesus Stories

Serial, Contradictions, and the Jesus Stories

The Gospels are full of contradictions. There, I said it. Take, for example, the differing accounts of the resurrection. In Matthew, the two Marys – Magdelene and Jesus’ mom – are at the empty tomb, greeted by an earthquake and an angel. In Luke, Joanna and other unnamed females are added to the mix, and they see two angels, rather than one. According to John, it is Mary Magdelene only, and after running to fetch Peter and John (the author), she sees Jesus, although she mistakes him at first for a gardener. Mark ends most strangely, with the two Marys and someone…

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Step Into Their World: The Parallel Universes of Alzheimer’s and Improv

Step Into Their World: The Parallel Universes of Alzheimer’s and Improv

By following the rules of improvisation, one family finds love and humor within the wilderness of dementia.

The episode “Magic Words” aired last month on This American Life and in it you’ll hear “Rainy Days and Mondys,” the story of Karen Stobbe, her husband Mondy, and her mother Virginia, who recently moved into their house because she has dementia.

The Glory in the Struggle – Team USA at The World Cup

The Glory in the Struggle – Team USA at The World Cup

I found myself getting frustrated on my commute into work on Tuesday morning. All of the chatter on  sports talk radio was about how “lucky” Team USA was to defeat Ghana in the World Cup on Monday night, and about how poorly Team USA played. I must not have been watching the same game. I really thought I was though. First of all, do people realize that their beloved American team was not favored in this game? Ghana had knocked the U.S. (single-handedly) out of the last two World Cups, and odds were, they were going to send the U.S….

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Mike Powell and Rap’s Bored Hedonism

Mike Powell and Rap’s Bored Hedonism

How do I love Mike Powell? Let me count the ways… He’s been churning out some of the most honest and thoughtful commentary on music that I’ve read in years, all with a refreshing candor and without a trace of heavy-handedness. I mentioned his work before in my Poptimism article, but his writing is very much worth seeking out at Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, or Spin for any fan of music or music writing. Not only is he a great music writer in the traditional sense, but Powell also exhibits a uniquely confessional and personal style of writing (especially in his…

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Bringing You the (Hippie) Gospel: “Oh, And That’s Right…He Dug It.”

Bringing You the (Hippie) Gospel: “Oh, And That’s Right…He Dug It.”

I was recently introduced to this rare bit of hipness by my friend and fellow seminarian, Susan Sevier.

An early attempt at cultural relevance, Pastor John Rydgren’s circa-1967 Silhouette radio shows are so much fun.  Rydgren was serving as the head of the TV, Radio and Film Department for the American Lutheran Church at the time he produced this series.  With his hip, rhythmic baritone jive, Rydgren was seeking to connect people with the Gospel message in fresh and down-to-earth ways, and he was doing so in the midst of the cultural upheavals that characterized the Summer of Love.

Talk about dramatic parables!  Can…

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