Interviews
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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The Incisive Power of…Nardwuar!

The Incisive Power of…Nardwuar!

After watching nearly 100 of these interviews, I must say that this is still (a la Slate) the place to begin in Nardwuaria: the N.E.R.D. interview. I hope you’ll watch it before reading further. Be not worried if you do not know who Pharrell Williams or N.E.R.D. happen to be. Consider it an interviewer and an interviewee–a top-tier musician and producer, who has definitely done many, many interviews. Think about how you might interview someone who has answered your note card questions a gazillion times, then watch this.

It doesn’t take many Access Hollywoods or sideline post-games or sneak-peak actor interviews…

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Another Week Ends: This American Life’s 500th, Dustin Hoffman’s Female Perspective, Midlife Crises, Man-Children, Spitzer, and Chickens

Another Week Ends: This American Life’s 500th, Dustin Hoffman’s Female Perspective, Midlife Crises, Man-Children, Spitzer, and Chickens

1) Heather Havrilesky, at it again, this time over at Aeon. Writing from the perspective of a “successful” middle-ager, she describes how nothing can really be enough nowadays. The avenues for comparison are as numerous as the avenues for self-expression. She has this to say about her own experiences:

This is the shape my mid-life crisis is taking: I’m worried about what I have time to accomplish before I get too old to do anything. I’m fixated on what my life should look like by now. I’m angry at myself, because I should look better, I should be in better shape,…

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Levi Weaver & the Ghosts that Keep Finding Him

Levi Weaver & the Ghosts that Keep Finding Him

I distinctly remember downloading Levi Weaver’s album, You Are Never Close To Home, You Are Never Far From Home, from Noisetrade just months after Derek Webb and others initiated it.  I had never heard of Levi Weaver nor knew what his music sounded like, but like so many bands I have come to love, I downloaded it because the cover art interested me.  After the first listen, I was hooked and I bought everything he produced from that point on.  If you have a chance to see Levi Weaver live or to host a house show for him, then take…

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Busted Up Michael Richards Learning to Work Selflessly

Busted Up Michael Richards Learning to Work Selflessly

I recently highlighted Jerry Seinfeld’s relatively new online show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and I promised to follow-up with a post dedicated to the episode featuring Michael Richards, who played Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld. This episode stands out above the rest for me so far because of a poignant moment toward the end in which Seinfeld and Richards thoughtfully address Richards’ unfortunate racist outburst during a stand-up comedy set seven years ago when he used the “n-word” (among many other things) to address heckling audience members. Like Paula Deen and her current downward spiral, Richards found himself…

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Reanimating the Word: Mockingbird Interviews Christian Wiman

Reanimating the Word: Mockingbird Interviews Christian Wiman

Last month, Mockingbird co-sponsored a talk with poet Christian Wiman, whose Ambition and Survival, My Bright Abyss, and Every Riven Thing have quickly become Mbird favorites. We also had the great pleasure of interviewing him – transcript below:

MB: Thornton Wilder said that “the revival in religion will be a rhetorical problem – new persuasive words for defaced or degraded ones.” And you reference the need for a “new poetics of faith” in your new book – could you expand on that?

CW: I’m of two minds about that. There’s another quote in that book from a Polish poet, Anna Kamienska, who…

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Another Week Ends: New Atheism and the Church, Jonah Lehrer on Redemption, Empathy with Batman, Wiman’s Incarnational Faith, End-of-School-Year Mothers, Billy Joel, and Eurovision

Another Week Ends: New Atheism and the Church, Jonah Lehrer on Redemption, Empathy with Batman, Wiman’s Incarnational Faith, End-of-School-Year Mothers, Billy Joel, and Eurovision

1. First off, Larry Taunton at The Atlantic has spent the last few years working through the whole “New Atheist” thing from the perspective of traditional Christianity, in particular listening (!) expansively to many committed, thought-through atheists. A nice round-up of his observations appeared this past week, with lots of food for thought, ht EB:

Slowly, a composite sketch of American college-aged atheists began to emerge and it would challenge all that we thought we knew about this demographic. Here is what we learned:

They had attended church

Most of our participants had not chosen their worldview from ideologically neutral positions at all, but in reaction to…

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When Jono Met Paul: A Short Discussion on Grace in Practice

LIBERATE gave us quite a gift on Friday! It only takes 10 minutes to unwrap. Amazing:

Jono and Paul-Vimeo HD from Coral Ridge | LIBERATE on Vimeo.

Another Week Ends: Internet Morality and Self-Help Gatsby, Mary Karr’s Finger-Wagging, Springs of Life, The Rage of Self-Control, and Finding Potterland

Another Week Ends: Internet Morality and Self-Help Gatsby, Mary Karr’s Finger-Wagging, Springs of Life, The Rage of Self-Control, and Finding Potterland

1. Over at the New York Times, A.O. Scott laments the rife materialism of recent films, focusing on Gatsby, Spring Breakers, and The Bling Ring. Fitzgerald’s message is potent given the flourishing of America’s economy right now amid anxieties from the last few years, but money really didn’t seem to be the main issue. In the movie, on the other hand:

The movie has been faulted, not entirely without justice, for its headlong embrace of the materialism that the novel views with ambivalence. Mr. Luhrmann, though following the book’s plot more or less faithfully, does not offer a stable moral perspective from which the world of its…

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Another Week Ends: Underconfidence, Kate Middleton’s Picnics, Unreported Medical Advice, D.H. Lawrence’s Christian Wonder, the Double-Bind of Summer Movies, More Christian Wiman, and (Way) Too Much Sociology

Another Week Ends: Underconfidence, Kate Middleton’s Picnics, Unreported Medical Advice, D.H. Lawrence’s Christian Wonder, the Double-Bind of Summer Movies, More Christian Wiman, and (Way) Too Much Sociology

1. How confident are you? Over at The New York Times, David Brooks surveyed his readers to get a sense for self-confidence, lack thereof, and the ways males and females experience confidence differently. While the word itself is a bit vague and murky, and Brooks found few trends in the survey data, the individual responses are definitely worth a look:

But it was really hard to see consistent correlations and trends. The essays were highly idiosyncratic, and I don’t want to impose a false order on them that isn’t there. Let me just string together some of the interesting points…

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Ambition’s Invisible Walls and the “Good Life” Ruthie Lived

Ambition’s Invisible Walls and the “Good Life” Ruthie Lived

Over at the The Atlantic, Emily Esfahani Smith released a book review-slash-sociological study last week on the relationship between ambition and community. She sets up her article on the recently released memoir of Rod Dreher, whom we’ve mentioned on here before, entitled The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, A Small Town, and the Secret of the Good Life. Ruthie Leming is Rod’s sister, the sister who stayed home in small-town Louisiana, who embedded herself in her childhood community, who embraced the ordinariness of her present and who, in her time of great and unexpected weakness (cancer), found…

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Real Christians Don’t Sin: The Least True Thing Said During the Super Bowl

Real Christians Don’t Sin: The Least True Thing Said During the Super Bowl

During his pre-Super Bowl interview with Shannon Sharpe, in which Sharpe raised the question of Ray Lewis’ alleged involvement in a 2000 double murder, Lewis made the following, completely untrue, totally unbiblical statement:

“If (the family of the victims) knew, if they really knew, the way God works, He doesn’t use people who commit anything like that, for His glory. No way. It’s the total opposite.”

I’m sorry Ray, but Moses begs to differ. As does David, and Paul. All murderers. Praise God that this isn’t true; that God does, in fact, use sinners for His glory and His purposes. He has…

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