Interviews

Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

1. Well, we knew about Mary Flannery’s early life of training chickens to walk backward (1932); it appears that God marked O’Connor out as different from pretty early on. We remember the short stories of violent grace and brilliant essays, and we even got to read some excerpts from her year-and-a-half-long prayer journal (written while still studying for her MFA at Iowa) in September. Well, three days ago the full work was released, edited by her friend William Sessions, and The New Yorker posted a great review/primer for anyone interested in fiction, O’Connor, prayer, the South, grad school, wooden legs, etc:

She reckoned that her success…

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On TV: Why BBC’s Luther Is The Scariest Show On TV

On TV: Why BBC’s Luther Is The Scariest Show On TV

I am coming up on my one-year anniversary of Mockingbird graciously allowing me to become a contributor. It all started with my series on the intersections between horror cinema and Christianity: “In the Event of a Cosmic Horror”. So I couldn’t leave the Halloween season alone without some sort of post dealing with horror and the faith. In that spirit, I would like to present my case for why BBC’s Luther is the scariest show on TV.

Television has broadcast its fair share of horror over the years—The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The X-Files, Supernatural, Fringe, American Horror Story, just…

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Mockingbird Interviews Francis Spufford

Mockingbird Interviews Francis Spufford

In celebration of the American release of Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense, we sat down (via Skype) with Francis Spufford to talk about his book, its American release, and the “Yeshua” chapter that still has us reeling. We talked about other things, too; like the problem of human emotion, like hipster irony and David Foster Wallace, like the “cruel optimism” of the world we live in, and Spufford’s own take on the Good Samaritan story.

For the full interview, though, you might just have to wait until for our first issue of our first ever…

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Andre Dubus III on Tragedy and Happiness in America

Andre Dubus III on Tragedy and Happiness in America

From his interview yesterday on the Diane Rehm show, starting at about the 3:30 mark:

AD3: “Frankly, I have this belief (that) if you scratch the surface of any human being, across the country, across the world, at any moment of any day, even right this moment, everybody’s in some kind of trouble. It’s normal. It’s just part of human existence. I think that in America, we freak out about that. I think we’ve been sold a bill of goods, that we think we’re supposed to be happy all the time, especially if we’re successful.”

DR: “It’s in the constitution!”

AD3: “Yeah. ‘Life, liberty…

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Another Week Ends: Breaking Bad Wrap-Ups and Walter White’s One-Way Love

Another Week Ends: Breaking Bad Wrap-Ups and Walter White’s One-Way Love

As you may have seen on any of your go-to websites this week, the internet has been inundated with Breaking Bad wrap-ups. And, besides the oft-dour Twittersphere, it is plain to see that its ending had an overwhelmingly positive response. It finished on top, with more viewers (10.8 million) than it’s ever had, or ever expected to have; and regardless of the colossal pressure given to any show with such a closed-loop system of justice, the show seemed to deliver a fitting ending with tight report. But it wasn’t the mechanics of the finale so much as the final characterization…

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Happy Birthday, Graham Greene and Wallace Stevens

6a00d83451c83e69e20120a5663af8970c-300wiTo the masters of the pen, we wish a happy birthday to Graham Greene and Wallace Stevens. This is from an interview Greene did with the Paris Review back in 1953 (ht WB). Greene, as we’ve said before, had an impeccable grasp of the upturned nature of the love of God, its invisibility to the pious and visibility lended to the humbled (the term “whisky priest” is his). Here he is talking about the “nerve of a theme” that traces through many of his greats: Brighton Rock, The End of the Affair, The Living Room, The Power and the Glory:

Steady, steady. Let’s put it this way. I write about situations that are common, universal might be more correct, in which my characters are involved and from which only faith can redeem them, though often the actual manner of the redemption is not immediately clear. They sin, but there is no limit to God’s mercy and because this is important, there is a difference between not confessing in fact, and the complacent and the pious may not realize it.

 

Wings Like Eagles and an Unlikely Love Song: Grace Gone Viral

Wings Like Eagles and an Unlikely Love Song: Grace Gone Viral

On the viral video front, if you’re feeling bogged down by all the heavy and life-sapping stuff out there, you’ll be glad to see that in contrast two very life-giving videos have recently landed on YouTube and are worth watching. They each provide a taste of grace. First, there is this one from a camera mounted to an eagle soaring through the French Alps. I want to say that this is what grace feels like: a sense of liberty, awe, beauty, response, and youthfulness (in all the ways that are good). To quote Isaiah:

He gives power to the faint, and to him…

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“The Harder I Fight”: Neko Case on Parents, Depression, and Her New Album

“The Harder I Fight”: Neko Case on Parents, Depression, and Her New Album

I’ve never gotten into Neko Case, but after hearing an interview she did on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” I’m definitely going to listen closely to her latest album, called The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. In the interview, Case tells the story that inspired her new song “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” but the song itself also tells the story. Here are the lyrics, ht BP:

Hey, little kid that I saw at the bus stop one day
It was nearly midnight in Honolulu
We were waiting for the shuttle to take us…

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Joss Whedon Avoids the Void and Searches for Hope

Joss Whedon Avoids the Void and Searches for Hope

A terrific and wide-ranging interview with filmmaker-guru Joss Whedon appeared in the recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, ample proof that he remains the most interesting guy in Hollywood. A couple of memorable soundbites/aphorisms include:

“I look back at my work and see a rage-filled hormonal autobiography that spans over four different series–five now–and several films. There’s lots of fear, lots of love and confusion and sex, and deep-seated anger at the bullies of the world, be they corporations or demons. I don’t have a ton of enemies. I get along with people pretty well when I’m not annoying them to death….

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The American Hustle and How We’ve Failed

The American Hustle and How We’ve Failed

Last week The Atlantic ran an interview with “cultural historian and social critic” Morris Berman on “how American culture misses life’s meaning.” Berman, who got so fed up with America that he up and moved to Mexico, pinpoints the American “culture of hustling,” in which we’re all living on the treadmill of capitalism run by collective consumer values, as the culprit of our failure as a country. Berman puts it like this:

This is, in some ways, the subject of my book Why America Failed. America is essentially about hustling, and that goes back more than 400 years. It’s practically genetic, in…

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Hector Black Forgives The Man Who Murdered His Daughter

Hector Black Forgives The Man Who Murdered His Daughter

I recently learned about Transom.org through This American Life. If you like TAL, you might enjoy listening to the Transom podcast, which produced an amazing (and relatively brief) interview with Hector Black, an elderly organic farmer, whose adopted daughter was killed by a crack-addicted burglar. Black describes this terrible incident and the ensuing relationship he developed with the perpetrator, Ivan Simpson, including publicly forgiving him. At Simpson’s trial, Black delivered a written statement. It all reminds me of the man who forgave the “Green River Killer.” Here are some highlights from the interview:

I was saying how much we loved Patricia, how…

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How Karaoke Saved One Man from a Total Eclipse of the Heart

How Karaoke Saved One Man from a Total Eclipse of the Heart

You start to sing karaoke, and some kind of psychic heart-switch flips. If you’re lucky, and the beer doesn’t run out, it’s more than just a night of debauchery. It’s a spiritual quest. This spiritual quest, like so many spiritual quests, involves Bonnie Tyler.

After the sudden death of his wife, music critic and Rolling Stone journalist Rob Sheffield found unexpected comfort in karaoke. After moving from Charlottesville to New York, Sheffield found himself, night after night, in front of drunken strangers in dingy karaoke bars, mic in hand. But rather than jolting his audience out of their stupor and…

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