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Reflections on the This Is Us Premiere: Shameless Tear-Jerking and the Theme of Adoption

Reflections on the This Is Us Premiere: Shameless Tear-Jerking and the Theme of Adoption

This post contains spoilers! If you have not yet watched the premiere of “This Is Us” head on over to NBC’s website, and come back in 45 min. Be sure to have your tissues ready.

It’s been a long time since I watched, let alone looked forward to, a network-produced TV show. HBO and Netflix have been dominating the silver screen of late, while NBC, ABC and the like have become channels necessary only for viewing sporting events (which, let’s be honest, I never do on my own accord). But NBC drew me in during the Olympics, when they aired (repeatedly)…

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Life Is Too Politicized When Seth Meyers Stops Being Funny

Life Is Too Politicized When Seth Meyers Stops Being Funny

Abraham Kuyper once said that there’s not a microbe in the universe that Christ doesn’t look at and declare “mine”. It feels like American political combative discourse makes the same claim today. Whether it’s chicken sandwiches or late night television, everything is turning shades of red and blue, which will likely lead to us all becoming increasingly black and blue.

I’m a political person. I’ve donated money to a presidential candidate this year. I watch lots of cable news, I sometimes take perverse delight in the combative rhetoric. I’d like to say political infotainment is a guilty pleasure, but I feel…

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Motherhood and the Maris Crane in Me

Motherhood and the Maris Crane in Me

I love being a mom. Motherhood, however, has also savagely birthed a hideous new version of my self into the world.

For example: Parenting has become the most tedious competitive sport since Scotland invented golf in 1457, and yet I frequently run to win it. I’ve even come to view preschool drop-off as a performance opportunity.

SCENE: I tenderly pull my kids from their car seats and immediately transform into the cheeriest, most in-control yet carefree version of “mom” since Carol Brady. I don my overly-priced active wear (the official jersey of mothers everywhere). I offer excessive hugs and kisses, the likes…

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Stranger Things and Upside-Down Kingdoms

Stranger Things and Upside-Down Kingdoms

“These men…have turned the world upside down.” Acts 17:6

My husband and I recently binge-watched Stranger Things on Netflix. And by binge-watched, I mean that we finished the series in about ten days, taking into account my propensity for falling asleep mid-episode and stretching a couple of the chapters over multiple viewings–like the last one, which we viewed on a laptop from a Sydney hotel room over the course of a night (I passed out thirty minutes in) and the next morning at 4:30 (thanks, jet lag). CJ already deftly covered the appeal of the show–themes of nostalgia, redemption, purity, and…

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Mr. Robot Wants to Save the World

Mr. Robot Wants to Save the World

“Watching a group of young people rebel against the one percent — these are not new ideas,” Portia Doubleday, a star of the hit show Mr. Robot, explained to an interviewer. “They’re things that as a society we’re all thinking but don’t know how to tackle. He’s just relating to what so many of us are wondering, but don’t say, and don’t have a platform to,” she said, referencing the show’s talented creator/writer/director, Sam Esmail. We’ve seen this whole young rebel thing done, she’s right, but any good iteration usually has something fresh to communicate, and Mr. Robot is no different….

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50 Years of Star Trek

Can’t let the day pass by without acknowledging it in some fashion. Would love for the Trekkers out there to weigh in with their favorite moments. For example:

I Wanna Know What Hipness Is

TOP-Hipper-CoverI recently re-discovered a band that loomed over my childhood. Tower of Power, a brass-based soul-funk big band explosion used to make an annual headline performance each summer at the San Mateo County Fair when I was growing up. The band was local, from Oakland, which is across the Bay. As is often the case, lyrics of songs that washed over me when I was too young to understand often blow me away when I hear them again for the first time as a grown man.

Take for instance “What Is Hip” from Power’s Hipper Than Hip (Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow) LP. The song could almost be a riff on the collect for the fifth Sunday in Lent (or the Fourth Sunday after Easter, depending on which Prayer Book you’re looking at): “Grant unto thy people that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found.”

Power is tapping into the same idea on Hipper Than Hip, asking what actually is hip anyway (I wanna know). It’s really a perennial question, observation, and reality check. During a time when it seems everyone is an indie hipster creative, we ought to allow “What Is Hip” to live a second life. Watch this amazing recording of Lenny Williams leading the band in a live(ly) performance of the song on Don Cornelius’s Soul Train—hey, people all over the world, remember Soul Train!? Watch, listen, pay attention to the lyrics, and be convicted of your need for Jesus because “sometimes hipness is, what it ain’t.”

What is hip
Tell me, tell me, if you think you know
What is hip
If you’re really hip
The passing years will show
You’re into a hip trip
Maybe hipper than hip
What is hip

Phi-lippin’ Philippians: Tony Hale and Stephen Colbert Play Bible Games

As someone who has intentionally watched every episode of The Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert and followed the trajectory of a man who came out of one of the best examples of American satire into the “normalcy” of late night, I find the best moments of his new incarnation are when religion pops up. Thursday (Aug. 25) was scattershot with Philippians verses which started with Sen. Tim Kaine–who was a Jesuit missionary for several years–and continued when Mbird favorite, Tony Hale, called out their “Bible games.” What follows is Tony Hale potentially being the only guest to seemingly out-Bible Stephen Colbert.  The moment is full of hilarity especially when placed in the context of Hale’s creation of The Haven, a meeting place in NYC for Christian artists who were outcasts from the church in his earlier days. Check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

A Treatise Against Christian Hypocrisy

A Treatise Against Christian Hypocrisy

Because I am an immediate devotee to anything Mark Burnett produces, I suffered through an entire season of Fox’s Coupled this summer. If you aren’t familiar with this romantic tale, then pat yourself on the back for being a better person than me. The premise is simple: twelve single women get to filter through a lot of men to see if they can ultimately be “coupled” off. You know the drill: island location, loads of Mai Tais, one affront to feminism after another.

There was one character that had me rapt for the entire season. Her name is Alexandra “Alex” Clark,…

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Bad People in The Good Place

In case you missed it during the Olympics, NBC will have a new Thursday night sitcom this fall: The Good Place (I went to high school with Michael Schur!). It’s about an abominable woman (Kristin Bell), who, by some cosmic error, ends up in Heaven.

Not surprisingly, the show appears (admittedly from the 2-minute trailer) to propagate the notion that good people go to the “good place” and bad people go to the “bad place” (although I hold out hope that the creator of Parks & Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine will be a bit more insightful). Of course, this is the Law, not the Gospel. It is Karma, not Grace. In contrast, the New Testament affirms that the only Good Person went to the bad place so that bad people could go to the good place.

Bad Moms, Odd Moms, and Everything In Between

Bad Moms, Odd Moms, and Everything In Between

I’m a mom, so I run primarily on adrenaline and guilt. Throw in some coffee in the AM, some wine in the PM, and you’ve covered the structure of most of my days–but I’ll be damned if anyone but me reduces my life to a cliche. I’ve seen some pretty bad representations of the pulled-in-all-directions nature of motherhood, so when the trailer for Bad Moms popped up on the internet a few months ago, I approached it warily. A major Hollywood studio accurately portraying my constant ambivalence? A script penned by two men (the writers behind The Hangover, no less)?…

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The Magnetism of the Exiled Soul to Stranger Things

The Magnetism of the Exiled Soul to Stranger Things

The most succinct way to describe Stranger Things is to say that it’s Steven Spielberg meets Stephen King–meets Netflix. It’s eight episodes and totally watchable in one week, or one night, depending on how willing you are to sacrifice your REMs. (Be warned: You’ll find it hard to finish one episode and resist at least watching the incredible opening credits for the next.)

Stranger Things tells the story of Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) who, like the woman searching for coins (Lk 15), frantically searches for her missing son, Will; meanwhile Will’s group of motley twelve-year-old friends, who have also been searching for him, stumble across…

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