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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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To the End of the Line: Captain America: Civil War and the Demands of Love

To the End of the Line: Captain America: Civil War and the Demands of Love

How far would you go for your friend?

Not an acquaintance, not an associate, not a work buddy: a friend, your companion, the counterpart whom you love. To what length would you go to protect her? Is there anything that would compel you to hesitate rushing to his side? What if the entire world were arrayed against him? Would you consider what the world had to say for even a second? Or would you grit your teeth and absorb its fury like a lightning rod for the one you love? Captain America: Civil War poses this question and shows us how…

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The Uncomplicated and Stubborn Love of Ordinary Grace

The Uncomplicated and Stubborn Love of Ordinary Grace

This book review comes to us from our good friend and author, Jim McNeely.

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

I recently read a novel by William Kent Kreuger called Ordinary Grace, and it set me thinking on the message of grace I so dearly love. The book is told from the perspective of Frank, who is an adult telling the story of the summer of his thirteenth year, a summer…

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Toiling to Make Film Life from Comic Death: Batman v Superman Invokes and Bungles Two Canons

Toiling to Make Film Life from Comic Death: Batman v Superman Invokes and Bungles Two Canons

From our comic book expert, Wenatchee the Hatchet, here is a critical take on the recent blockbuster, Batman v Superman.

Prelude to Two Problems

As the “dawn” of the DC cinematic franchise, Batman v Superman falls apart at what I would call the level of mythos. This film had the dual task of continuing the story of Henry Cavill’s Superman from Man of Steel while introducing a new Batman. But the failure of the film is in its invocation of the images, iconography and concepts of two different canons: the Judeo-Christian canon, and the canon of DC comics. It might be expected that the…

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Book Review: Falling Into Grace by John Newton

Book Review: Falling Into Grace by John Newton

Most of what lives on bookstore shelves marked “Christian” should actually be marked “Self Help with the Name Jesus Thrown In” (I’m looking at you, Osteen). But John Newton’s latest book, Falling Into Grace: Exploring Our Inner Life with God begins not with us climbing the corporate ladder to the Kingdom, but with us falling. In fact, Newton makes it pretty clear from the beginning:

“This book is an invitation to let yourself fall. It’s a reminder that because you’re already home free from the beginning, any fall can always be a fall into grace. And so don’t expect to find within these…

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NAPOLEON DYNAMITE [US 2004]  TINA MAJORINO, JON HEDER           Date: 2004

Awkwardness and a Theology of the Cross

This review of This is Awkward, by Sammy Rhodes, comes to us from Brian Mesimer.

“It’s been said that a friend is a gift that you give yourself. Maybe it’s better to say that friendship is giving someone the gift of yourself. You in all your ruined glory, waiting to be opened and enjoyed.”  – This is Awkward

Martin Luther’s dichotomy between the theology of the cross and the theology of glory is a well worn theological concept. Like a good sweater on a cold day, it’s a way of viewing life that you want to keep putting on when the time calls…

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Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment:  A Tragifarce in Two Acts

Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment: A Tragifarce in Two Acts

This review comes from Gilbert Colon.

Mikhail Bulgakov, grandson of two Russian Orthodox priests, is experiencing a minor resurgence. The Soviet-era author’s short story collection, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, finished a two-season run in 2014 as an Ovation cable series starring Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. Russian television turned his novel The Master and Margarita, about Satan coming to Stalin’s Moscow, into a 2005 miniseries. And finally this year saw, thanks to Manhattan’s The Storm Theatre (at St. Mary’s Church, 440 Grand Street), the American premiere of the Bulgakov bioplay Collaborators, first staged at London’s National Theatre in 2011…

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Rock Meets Bottom: When Love Finds Deadpool

Rock Meets Bottom: When Love Finds Deadpool

This post comes to us from our friend RJ Grunewald.

After an experimental treatment turns Wade Wilson into a mutant with healing powers–while simultaneously retaining his wit and a crude sense of humor–Wade Wilson becomes Deadpool and gives himself to hunting down and destroying the man who left him disfigured and ruined.

Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to have the story ruined for you, you should probably stop reading this.

Wade Wilson, before becoming Deadpool, is a sarcastic, profane, and funny vigilante. He’s a bad guy who deals with worse guys. Wade uses his wit and looks to get with whatever women…

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No More Parties with Kanye: A Review of Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo”

No More Parties with Kanye: A Review of Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo”

“Name one genius that ain’t crazy.”
–Kanye West, “Feedback,” The Life of Pablo

No one who is actually crazy calls himself “crazy.” A healthy person admits her illness. A truly mentally ill person never admits his mental illness. A borderline class of person exists who calls himself “crazy” not in earnestness but in flippancy, as an in an unconscious admission of decadence and denial, as an unapologetic announcement.

The “artist as madman” meme is like many shibboleths and stereotypes—rooted in a grain of truth, but abused and degraded with popularization, used to justify rather than challenge, like the current fad of practicing mindfulness…

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Another Regeneration Cycle: RNDM by Mega Ran

Another Regeneration Cycle: RNDM by Mega Ran

My favorite scene in Doctor Who is when the Eleventh Doctor, facing regeneration into the Twelfth Doctor, tells his grieving companion (Clara),

We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.

Like the Doctor, rapper Raheem Jarbo has shifted identities in public. He started his career with The Call, an astonishing indie rap album, under the name Random, but he shifted his focus to what he terms “chip-hop” in his the concept albums Mega Ran…

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Mockingbird at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa

Mockingbird at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa

Charlie Kaufman’s newest film, Anomalisa, is not for everyone. I don’t mean that in an exclusive, some “get” it and others don’t, kind of way. I mean that the the film is a very real (ironic considering it consists entirely of stop-motion animation) depiction of the dislocation and alienation that pervades modern existence, and I predict that even the most optimistic among us will leave the the theater with his 32 oz. cup of Cherry Coke half empty. But wait! Kaufman’s bleak and banal picture of reality may be difficult to watch, but for those willing to endure the dark…

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