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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

This one comes to us from our friend, Jason Thompson.

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…

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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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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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