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In This Hope We Rebel: Rogue One, An Advent Story

In This Hope We Rebel: Rogue One, An Advent Story

Everybody!!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivers magnificently on the promise Star Wars fans have known still lurked within the franchise but struggled to manifest over the last seventeen years of films. Yes, I’m hyperventilating a little–but so will you. Rogue One is so excellent it would be easy to drown the internet in superlatives praising it but part of the excitement that accompanies it is the sheer wonder of witnessing a story that celebrates heroism and hope without resorting to the stale devices that characterize so many blockbusters. Gareth Edwards has composed an elegy to broken human beings consecrated to…

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Rogue One: Moral Licensing and a Father’s Love

Rogue One: Moral Licensing and a Father’s Love

Bust out your bagel-hair earmuffs and blast the John Williams! The latest installment of the Star Wars Universe, Rogue One, blasted its way into theaters this weekend. On the podcast last year, I noted my disappointment with Ep. VII, particularly derivative plot and narrative callbacks. Rogue One was the droid I was looking for. A standalone entry to the Star Wars Universe, the movie tells the story of how Princess Leia got those super-important Death Star plans back in 1977. It needed about three more minutes of character development, and a few of the CGI characters were a bit off, but…

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Manchester By the Sea: Notes on the Best Film of the Year

Manchester By the Sea: Notes on the Best Film of the Year

I’m pretty sure my wife and I would’ve gotten together without Kenneth Lonergan’s help, but you never know. It was the summer of 2002, and she was the first person I’d ever heard mention his film You Can Count On Me in casual conversation. A deceptively smart mixture of pathos and heart (and great acting), she counted it among her favorites as well. I’ve told the story elsewhere–let’s just say the episode doesn’t reflect particularly well on yours truly. But it should give you a sense of what the man’s work means to me.

When Lonergan’s long-delayed follow-up Margaret finally appeared…

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The Creation of Man by Michelangelo Sistine Chapel

Violent Ends in the Season 1 Finale of Westworld

Spoilers abound.

In the opening episode of HBO’s Westworld, Dolores Abernathy (played by Evan Rachel Wood), in a state of robotic semi-unconsciousness, says this: “Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world, the disarray. I choose to see the beauty, to believe there is an order to our days, a purpose…the newcomers are just looking for the same thing we are…a place to be free.”

Dolores (Spanish for “sorrows”) is a humanoid robot, and this is her script.

David Peterson wrote a wonderful article for Mockingbird last month reviewing the initial episodes of Westworld. As he noted, the show is loosely…

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Moana Leads the Way Home (and to the Horizon)

Moana Leads the Way Home (and to the Horizon)

One of the more attractive elements of grace-based living is that it removes (in doctrine, anyway, if not always in practice) the pressure to discern every decision correctly. Both the roughing-it-through-the-grind and seeking-the-horizon are both valid and acceptable approaches to life. This stance contrasts with FOMO-driven media in both the general and Christian spheres. Such movies, books, sermons, etc emphasize the importance of striving over settling. Persistence involves driving forward toward goals, not simply making it through.

Mbird contributors (and, I think, readers) have diverse views on theology and practice, but we are mostly united in our skepticism of the ever-striving-forward…

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When Your Popularity Arc Takes a “Nosedive”

When Your Popularity Arc Takes a “Nosedive”

Last year’s Technology Issue published a list of TV Techno-Fables, the first show on the list being Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s exceedingly bleak anthology series, which just released its third season on Netflix this month. In the list we discussed that, despite The Twilight Zone comparison often thrown at Black Mirror, the show “does not contain a whiff of Rod Serling’s compassionate humanism.” In other words, if the show is as prophetic as it often feels, Brooker sees no hope entering the equation.

That was all before Season 3, though! Most things have not changed. As with all Black Mirror episodes,…

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The Laws of Personality in The Road Back to You

The Laws of Personality in The Road Back to You

This reflection was written by Joshua Retterer.

I felt a wave of relief when I pulled my copy of Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s new book, The Road Back to You from the box. The dust jacket design was restrained and inoffensive. Why relief? The cover of Richard Rohr’s 1990 book, Discovering the Enneagram, the first  popular book on the subject, looked like a prop from the CW’s Supernatural TV series. Let’s be honest, the moment you have to explain, “No, that’s not a pentagram,” you’ve lost. For evangelicals just starting to peak out from underneath the covers after the 1980’s…

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Playing Chess with the King of Kings: Moments of Grace in The Queen of Katwe

Playing Chess with the King of Kings: Moments of Grace in The Queen of Katwe

Disney’s The Queen of Katwe prefers subtle nuances over soap-boxy platitudes, which tend to posit overly simplistic answers to the complexities of life in a fallen world. In veteran director Mira Nair’s vision, we see references to faith quietly pervading the film without ever becoming overbearing. Here, we have the kind of creative and engaging expression of spirituality found in such recent works as 2015’s Selma and The Revenant and this year’s Hail Ceasar!, Hell or High Water, and Birth of a Nation.

Based on true events as chronicled in the 2012 book Tim Crother published for ESPN, The Queen of Katwe stars newcomer Madina Nalwanga, who delivers a quiet, yet forceful…

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Needtobreathe Comes Up For Air

Needtobreathe Comes Up For Air

This one was written by the esteemed Margaret Pope.

Growing up in the Bible-belt south and actively participating in youth group, I could hardly be considered a good Christian if I didn’t listen to NEEDTOBREATHE. I distinctly remember singing “Washed by the Water” for the first time in ninth grade on a senior high youth group retreat, and the rest, as they say, is history. Wikipedia classifies NEEDTOBREATHE as an “American Christian rock band,” but I think of NEEDTOBREATHE as a rock band with a hint of folk whose members happen to be Christians. Each of their albums consists of a mix of…

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Being Boring on Beautiful/Anonymous

Being Boring on Beautiful/Anonymous

It seems like comedian Chris Gethard is everywhere I look. Like he’s emerging from the boundaries of his cult-following into the more public eye, showing up time and again on the old news feed. It’s probably because his sense of humor plays off the widespread anxiety that we all seem to have. This week he’s premiering his off-Broadway Apatow-produced play, Career Suicide, which retells Gethard’s own real-life suicide attempt–as a comedy. That tells you something about his sense of humor.

I didn’t know who Gethard was until a couple months ago when a friend recommended his podcast Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, each episode of which is…

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Nothing New: Notes on Game of Thrones, with an Eye on the Books

Nothing New: Notes on Game of Thrones, with an Eye on the Books

[Spoilers for s6e8 abound below:]

“There is nothing new under the sun” -Solomon, Ecclesiastes 1:9

“To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.” -Quaithe of Asshai

The most recent episode of Game of Thrones, “No One”, centered on return. For Brienne, Jaime, Daenerys, Sansa, Jon, and notably Arya, going forward means going back. Like the hobbits who set the Shire straight at the end of book six in Lord of the Rings, our characters must go forward, and then return to where they were, armed with new knowledge, new experience to either better “meet…

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The Door and the Stories We Tell: Reviewing Game of Thrones

The Door and the Stories We Tell: Reviewing Game of Thrones

Spoiler Alert for those who have not yet seen this past week’s episode of Game of Thrones (Season 6, Episode 5).

A drunk King Robert gallivants across a wooden stage, two conspicuous stagehands tracking his movements with a poorly-painted backdrop of woods behind him, setting the scene. Bawdiness, drinking jokes, and other low-comedy staples ensue, until dunderhead Ned Stark, idiot/villein Northern companion of the lecherous Robert, tries to grab the Throne for himself, until Joffrey, Cersei, and Littlefinger intervene to keep the pretender from taking power.

Last night’s Game of Thrones episode was brilliant in lots of ways, but from a…

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