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Westworld and the Myth of Christmas

Westworld and the Myth of Christmas

Here’s a great one from Geoff Holsclaw, Augustine scholar, Mockingcast moonlighter, and friend. Spoiler alert applies: 

The best works of art remind of us reality, or point to what could be.

Provoking the local community, one of our artists installed “Away from the Manger” on the church lawn. Life-sized versions of Mary, Joseph, and the three Wisemen were placed 15 feet away from baby Jesus in the manger. They “adults” were all gathered around a giant television tuned to Fox News.

We received outraged letters from another church about how we were profaning Christmas. The neighbors were mostly confused and the installation was…

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Mom Goggles

Mom Goggles

One of my favorite shows on television is The Goldbergs, which is a sitcom about a family in the 1980s. The mother, Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey), is ridiculous not only in her 1980s-ness (jazzercise, big hair, shoulder pads, mom jeans), but also in her single-minded devotion to her family. Her love for them often seems to travel only in a one-way direction. Her husband is apathetic. Her children are teenagers and embarrassed by her smothering affection. But she doggedly loves them anyway, in spite of herself and in spite of their protests. In one episode, her children accuse her of having…

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The Best of the Year in Television 2016

The Best of the Year in Television 2016

Back in November, The Washington Post reported that there is so much TV being produced in America today that Los Angeles is running out of studio space and production equipment. Now, I know you could argue that the scarcity reflects a bottomless appetite for distraction in our culture–that we’re “entertaining ourselves to death”. You’d have a point, to be sure. But that argument holds less water when you consider the wealth of great work that’s actually getting made. Meaning, while the mindless stuff will always be with us, it would appear that, at least when it comes to television, the quality of…

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The Cruelty of Age in “The Crown”

The Cruelty of Age in “The Crown”

Carrie Willard’s recent assessment is dead-on — “The Crown” deserves to be savored instead of binged. In the ninth episode, one of the more interesting subplots had the artist Graham Sutherland being commissioned to paint Winston Churchill’s portrait for his 80th birthday [spoilers follow]. Churchill (John Lithgow) is anything but a willing subject, nor is he excited about the unveiling of the finished product before an audience at Westminster Abbey. And while the audience applauds politely at the unveiling, Churchill’s initial disgust is barely masked by a forced smile. “A fine patriotic piece of modern art,” he manages.

After hearing that Churchill has…

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Tim Tebow’s Big God

Tim Tebow’s Big God

I’d be thrilled to have Tim Tebow as a son-in-law if my daughters weren’t spoken for. Look at him, he’s pretty perfect. Listen to him, he’s pretty easy to like. At ESPN HQ in Bristol, Connecticut, word is that everyone who works there with him loves him. He’s a super nice, cute, likable dude. I’m a Harry Connick Jr. fan too–best American Idol judge of all-time, and I watched all the seasons. So, this little exchange should be “can’t miss,” correct? Actually, that would depend on your definition of “Big God.” Take a listen:

Did you catch all that? Tim Tebow…

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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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Drunk Theology with Robert Farrar Capon

Drunk Theology with Robert Farrar Capon

This one comes from our friend Joshua Retterer, just in time for the release of Capon’s never-before-published collection of essays, More Theology and Less Heavy Cream, available today! Head over to our store to get your copy!

Reading Robert Farrar Capon sometimes feels a bit like watching Drunk History. You do a lot of mental tallying, while realizing the comedians and actors, in an inebriated state, get closer to the truth than some of the the more studious historians do. Case in point, check out Lin-Manuel Miranda’s recent appearance on Drunk History explaining the Hamilton/Burr rivalry. Capon was no different. The side effect…

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On Being Outsiders…and Not Quite Bulletproof

On Being Outsiders…and Not Quite Bulletproof

Just wanted to let you know you can all calm down: I figured out the Election of 2016.

Okay, maybe I didn’t “figure it out” so much as “choose the theory I find least disquieting among all the ones being thrown around right now.” The narrative of this election, after all, is being told and retold all over social and traditional media. There seems to be no escaping the countless voices clamoring to be heard, the opinions on why the winner won and the loser lost. One of the refrains that caught my eye early, though, and still sticks, is that so many…

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Prince Philip and Me: On Relating to The Crown’s Most Awkward Character

Prince Philip and Me: On Relating to The Crown’s Most Awkward Character

Anglophiles still mourning the ending of Downton Abbey have begun watching The Crown, a Netflix original about the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The series is beautifully made, and instead of bingeing on it, I find myself wanting to savor it slowly. This piece contains some spoilers about the first half of the series.

One of the first scenes in the first episode focuses not on Elizabeth herself but rather on her husband-to-be, Prince Philip. In this scene, before Elizabeth becomes Queen, Philip formally renounces the Greek and Danish titles that were the privileges of his birth. He does…

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CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 30:  Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs speaks to the media after the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in Game Five of the 2016 World Series at Wrigley Field on October 30, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 678125953 ORIG FILE ID: 619364242

Reversing the Curse by Making the Worst Decisions

If the Chicago Cubs had lost game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night, their manager Joe Maddon wouldn’t have been run out of the Windy City on a rail (he has to much pedigree for that) but he would have been buying his own deep dish pizza for a while. Talk about first world problems. Over their 108 years of futility (the longest drought  in professional sports history without a championship) the Cubs have had some great teams that played great only to be cursed by the most random of circumstances that were beyond their control. There was…

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Welcome to Westworld

Welcome to Westworld

HBO’s ambitious new show, “Westworld,” splits its time between a wild west-themed adult amusement park populated by humanoid robots and wealthy patrons and an off-site control room where scientists and technicians make sure everything runs without a hitch. The idea comes from a 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name, so you can bet that the robots will eventually rebel in some way (probably sans dinosaurs). The appeal of the park for visitors is that they can pursue their wildest fantasies with no apparent consequence. Some drink and gamble in the saloon before following a beckoning prostitute upstairs, and…

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Grace in Trains, Pantsuits, and Locker Rooms

Grace in Trains, Pantsuits, and Locker Rooms

A couple of weeks ago my husband, back from an extended work trip, gave me the greatest of gifts: an overnight stay in a local hotel. No, not with him. This was the gift of solitude for nearly twenty-four hours, a joy rarely experienced by mothers of young children and highly coveted by the same, particularly the introverted sort such as myself. Granted, the gift was born out of a demand on my part after a sleepless night and an overflowing toilet, but let’s avoid looking at this horse directly in the mouth, shall we?

When the time arrived, my…

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