Reviews
Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner, pt 1 (“Was”)

Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner, pt 1 (“Was”)

One advantage of the Internet is providing a certain type of community for people in places where there’s little of it, and in that spirit we’re starting a Mockingbird reading group (no law!), which will really just be planned serial blog posts with commentary encouraged. The book will be Go Down, Moses, a favorite among Faulkner’s works, and one with a fair amount of thematic consonance with what’s going on at Mbird. The novel itself is a series of interweaving and cumulative short stories, with a novella about a bear taking up most of its second half. The critical approach will be…

Read More »

Another Week Ends: Blinded with Science, Stumped by Meaning After God, Paralyzed by the Law of Ice and Fire, Outmaneuvered by a Cheeseburger and Oversimplified by Gallup

Another Week Ends: Blinded with Science, Stumped by Meaning After God, Paralyzed by the Law of Ice and Fire, Outmaneuvered by a Cheeseburger and Oversimplified by Gallup

1. Aquinas followed Aristotle in claiming the end (telos, purpose) of biology is medicine. Science has long been a technical discipline designed primarily to promote human flourishing / well-being. Of course, it was always contemplative to a degree, satisfying curiosity or even, as Aquinas also notes, teaching us about God. The study of creation reflects upon the Creator. One wonders what the role of science is today, what a panel of researchers would say if asked. My best guess would be something along the lines of increasing knowledge for knowledge’s sake; if pressed further, one might say that pure knowledge works to bolster happiness and/or…

Read More »

Is It My Fault? Shedding Light in the Darkness of Domestic Violence

Is It My Fault? Shedding Light in the Darkness of Domestic Violence

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have done it again. As with their earlier work on sexual assault, Rid of My Disgrace, their most recent book Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence, goes where most Christian authors can’t or won’t go. Justin and Lindsey have the unique pastoral ability–and the theology to back it–to shine a light in the darkest of human experiences: abuse from the hands of another human. Truly, the Holcombs are lights in the darkness.

The book is broken into three sections, four if you count the substantial appendices. The Holcomb’s first move is…

Read More »

Sally Lloyd Jones and Being Afraid of the Dark

Sally Lloyd Jones and Being Afraid of the Dark

Last week as I was tucking our 3 year old son into bed he whispered to me, “Mama, I’m scared of the dark.” I tossed out the first thing in my brain that would make him feel better and make him stay in bed, “Don’t be scared. God is with you.” I really don’t like religious platitudes. For some reason I thought my toddler wouldn’t mind as much.

Immediately my child sat up in bed, looked around and said, “Where?”

After mentally going through the list of answers adults said to me when I was his age (your heart, right beside you,…

Read More »

New Music: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence

New Music: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence

Matthew Linder (who gave Mbird a delightful treatise on Willy Wonka) and I, for well over a week and counting, have been infatuated with the newest Lana Del Rey album, and conversations over Facebook and email ensued. Below are some of the highlights of our discussion of what we both consider a tremendously beautiful and heart-wrenching album.

 

Blake:

So from the first listen, I felt an aural tie to the gothic americana genre, but without the usual folk/bluegrass instrumentation. Gothic americana is notorious for using religious allusion and imagery for often non-religious reasons. It is all tied into this idea of Flannery…

Read More »

Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

For those interested in human folly and hard truths, look no further than John Gray, a political philosopher whose work On Progress and Other Modern Myths (The Silence of the Animals) debunks many of our species’ self-flattering stories about where we came from and where we’re going. An agnostic himself, Gray realizes the decline of Christianity won’t issue in quite the same unproblematic post-religious paradise that some of his contemporaries might think:

For humanists, denying that humanity can live without myths can only be a type of pessimism. They take for granted that if human beings came to be more like the rational…

Read More »

Willem Dafoe Plays Eliphaz (in The Fault in Our Stars)

Willem Dafoe Plays Eliphaz (in The Fault in Our Stars)

Disguised as a chick flick, The Fault in Our Stars woos floods of teenage girls while simultaneously offering a startlingly honest commentary on life and death. Sure, it’s a used plot (cancer-stricken teens fall in love) and an even more used conflict (inexplicable suffering), but The Fault in Our Stars strikes up a whirlwind of important questions, which, chances are, will challenge viewers beyond their expectations. These are important questions. Questions of Joban proportions.

Because let’s face it, all the characters are there: Job, Job’s family, Job’s friends. The Fault in Our Stars, based on John Green’s bestselling novel, addresses inexplicable…

Read More »

Changing the Human (and Mutant) Heart in X-Men: Days of Future Past

Changing the Human (and Mutant) Heart in X-Men: Days of Future Past

I must confess that after last summer’s Superman debacle I was a little burnt out on superhero movies. They’re made with such frequency now, and many are so formulaic. Yet no matter what they keep making money. Naturally many studio executives are loath to deviate from this formula of prophecies, will-they-or-won’t-they romances, and of course, massive amounts of CGI destruction.

I’m happy to report that X-Men: Days of Future Past breaks the mold. In fact, it proved to be one of the most creative superhero movies I’ve seen in a very long time. By incorporating time travel, it functions as a…

Read More »

What Do Dave Eggers, Dirty Toes and Shampoo Have in Common?

What Do Dave Eggers, Dirty Toes and Shampoo Have in Common?

If God was interested in being clean, I wonder if he might have stalled the incarnation a millennium or two until the days of close-toed shoes or indoor plumbing. He would then have had the fortune of choosing from fifty different kinds of shampoo at Kroger, or the experience of a soothing pedicure to rinse out the Palestinian dirt from under his thick yellow toenails.

Cultural progression, it seems to me, moves increasingly anti-dirt. Dave Eggers’ newest book, The Circle, focuses on a not-so distant future in which the latest form of social media, TruYou, has usurped all other internet big…

Read More »

New Music: Propaganda’s Crimson Cord

New Music: Propaganda’s Crimson Cord

Welcome to Blake (B.I.C) and Carl’s review/conversation about Propaganda’s newest release, Crimson Cord. We exchanged some emails over the course of a few weeks and arrived at a few conclusions about the album, but also dug deeper in questions of hip-hop and Christianity and how the two intersect.

Carl: So, what do you think about Crimson Cord overall?

B.I.C.: I think this album is more consistent than Excellent, Propaganda’s last release. It feels like it has a bigger story to tell throughout its run time. Excellent was, in my opinion, a more striking album overall, but it suffered from inconsistency and…

Read More »

The 5 Best Sports Movies You May Have Missed

The 5 Best Sports Movies You May Have Missed

Last week, as I watched 3 of my beloved TV series have their season finales – “The Good Wife” (the best show not talked about much on Mockingbird–there, I said it) “The Americans” (best 2-season binge watch currently available) and “Survivor” (the original reality show competition, accept no substitute) – it struck me that we’re entering the summer season. It’s the time of year when we go to our blu rays, On Demands, Redboxes, and Netflix to catch up on films we’ve been meaning to see, but have not because we have been too busy just trying to keep up…

Read More »

Did Michael Jackson Xscape from His Own Face?

Did Michael Jackson Xscape from His Own Face?

Sooner or later anyone interested in the subject of identity is going to have to reckon with Michael Jackson. You just can’t get around him, especially not this week, which brought the release of his second posthumous record, Xscape. No one has delved more deeply or compassionately into the questions of identity posed by the King of Pop than journalist Margo Jefferson. In her penetrating treatise On Michael Jackson (written while MJ was still alive), she confronts the, er, white elephant that dogs every tribute to the Gloved One:

In the past two decades we’ve watched Michael Jackson morph from a…

Read More »

Reviewing The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography

Reviewing The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography

I was honored a few months ago to be asked to review Alan Jacobs’ new biography of The Book of Common Prayer for Modern Reformation magazine, one of my/our favorite periodicals. Seeing as the issue in which it appears just hit stands (May-June), here’s a generous portion of the article. Be sure to head over to Mod Ref and subscribe to read the whole thing:

To borrow a phrase from faux fashion icon Mugatu in Ben Stiller’s film Zoolander, liturgy is so hot right now. A minister at an evangelical Congregational church in Massachusetts uses The Book of Common Prayer at every…

Read More »

On TV: Checking in with Game of Thrones

On TV: Checking in with Game of Thrones

1. Rolling Stone yesterday published previously unreleased GRRM material, editorial outtakes from an interview with Martin from last week. Among other great material, this gem on low anthropology, followed by a great redemption quote from the published interview, ht AOC:

On the show’s ambiguous line between good and evil:

We see a moral evolution, perhaps, on the part of the human race. But there are collapses and detours, and strange periods of aberration. Remember, we had democracy in ancient Greece. We had a republic in ancient Rome, and yet then somehow for the better part of 2000 years, we forget about those forms of…

Read More »

Kumare: The True Story of a (False) False Prophet

Kumare: The True Story of a (False) False Prophet

This fabulous review/reflection comes to us from Josh Hall:

Plenty has been said about the documentary Kumare, and I certainly don’t want to stir up controversy. What happens in it is undeniably fascinating and worth talking about: this guy, by all accounts a normal American male, gets the idea to set out into the world as a “false prophet”. With pseudo-message and made-up rituals in hand, he brings a camera crew along to capture the whole thing. Not your typical documentary.

His stated purpose is as follows:

“My problem wasn’t with spirituality, but with spiritual leaders. Why do we need them? I wanted…

Read More »