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Trump Semper Accusat

Trump Semper Accusat

Another from new contributor Eric Dorman:

Election season is always nasty, brutish and long. This cycle is no different, really, except that it’s worse. There are candidates running now who make some of the folks from the past few elections look like scholars and saints. Bread and circuses, indeed.

Of course, the chief offender is Donald Trump, and most of the culture hates him for it. Left, right, center, every major news outlet regularly publishes diatribes against him or exposés about him.

Some people have thought about Trump more creatively, though. For example, Paul Zahl used Trump as an instrument for identifying some of…

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President Jesus and Holy Week, Part II

President Jesus and Holy Week, Part II

Back in 2008, the New Monastic figurehead Shane Claiborne wrote a generally well received book titled “Jesus for President,” riffing off Woody Guthrie’s folk tune “Christ for President.” In the book, Claiborne argued that American Christianity was too invested in the American political system and, as a result, ignoring a significant amount of Jesus’s moral teachings. The title seems to have stuck- “Jesus for President” – and perhaps it’s just my carefully curated Twitter feed, but the phrase seems to be making a comeback again in 2016.

It’s an understandable sentiment: many Christians are scratching their head this year regarding the…

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An Email Blast, A Cancelled Rally, and Straight-Line Power

An Email Blast, A Cancelled Rally, and Straight-Line Power

Among the odder stories of the 2016 election cycle so far has been Louis CK’s recent email blast urging fans not to vote for Donald Trump.

Did you know Louis CK has a new show, by the way? He’s self released it–it’s called Horace and Pete, and you can only get it through his website. Someone around the Mbird blogger crew will get to it eventually, especially since our previous profiles of Louis CK’s material have been cautiously approving. And! he co-leads the show with Steve Buscemi, which sounds incredible.

So if you’re on Louis CK’s email list, you’d have received an update…

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Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment:  A Tragifarce in Two Acts

Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment: A Tragifarce in Two Acts

This review comes from Gilbert Colon.

Mikhail Bulgakov, grandson of two Russian Orthodox priests, is experiencing a minor resurgence. The Soviet-era author’s short story collection, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, finished a two-season run in 2014 as an Ovation cable series starring Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. Russian television turned his novel The Master and Margarita, about Satan coming to Stalin’s Moscow, into a 2005 miniseries. And finally this year saw, thanks to Manhattan’s The Storm Theatre (at St. Mary’s Church, 440 Grand Street), the American premiere of the Bulgakov bioplay Collaborators, first staged at London’s National Theatre in 2011…

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How Alexander Hamilton Got His Groove Back

How Alexander Hamilton Got His Groove Back

I’m that guy who made you watch “Lazy Sunday” two years after it aired on SNL, because he just heard it on his Weird Al Pandora station. (My gracious brother and sister-in-law have mercifully never mentioned it since.) Today, I’m the guy who heard a clip of Hamilton—after it smashed from Off-Broadway to Broadway to the Grammys—and has been obsessed ever since. Whatever, though, because I’m all in.

One of the odd features of Hamilton (a mostly hip-hop biography of Alexander Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda) fandom is that most people cannot feasibly see the play anytime soon. It’s currently playing in one New York…

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Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Paul Reubens, John Levenstein, Gray Eubank- Photo Credit: Augusta Quirk/IFC

Fearing “the Other” in November 2016

On Monday, NPR did a story on a newish vocabulary word making the rounds this election cycle, one that touches on last week’s thoughts on attempts to define an “Evangelical.” The word is “Otherize,” and if you have three minutes and want to hear more, check the story below:

Generally, to “otherize” someone is to label them as different and suggest they are against you in a zero-sum competition. Although it is a term often used to describe a method of victimization, it’s also a strategy that anyone, including victims, can employ. In the election context, “otherizing” becomes a political game…

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The Primary Definition of an Evangelical

The Primary Definition of an Evangelical

This election cycle, Donald Trump’s ascendancy to front-runner status has given religion beat writers a whole new angle of thinkpiece to write: what exactly is an Evangelical, and why are they voting for Trump. At least a half-dozen of them are produced daily, it seems, from major publications like The Washington Post and the New York Times to your friendly neighborhood religious blog. Evangelical bastions like Christianity Today magazine and Liberty University are weighing in on the discussion, and even smaller Evangelical outlets like Relevant Magazine are trying to parse the Trump phenomenon. Flummoxed political insiders aren’t the only ones left…

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Further Thoughts on The Donald

Further Thoughts on The Donald

A post-Super Tuesday reflection from Scott Larousse:

It’s likely that history will view Donald Trump in one of two ways: a flash in the pan, or the harbinger of a change in American politics and, to an extent, society. Many of us might hope it’s the former, in part because Trump as a President would lack the experience other candidates might have and would probably be more volatile – that is, there would be a wide range of outcomes if he were President, and many would agree that the odds of an extremely damaging action by him would be greater under…

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Partisan Narratives (and Cruel Choirmasters) in an Election Season

Partisan Narratives (and Cruel Choirmasters) in an Election Season

Slightly updated for context:

Living in a “swing battleground state” (VA), I get the privilege of witnessing the escalation of hostilities from a front row seat every election season. And escalate they do! From the ads on TV to the volunteers at the door, the signs on the street to the telemarketers on the phone, it’ll be hard to hide come November. Last time around, apparently even Walking Dead viewers were on the fence (Arrow viewers, not so much).

There’s obviously an important place in a presidential race for indignation and culpability, anger and blame, etc. The permanence of the logs in…

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How Do You Preach to the Donald? (Or, Thoughts on the Afflicted and the Comfortable)

How Do You Preach to the Donald? (Or, Thoughts on the Afflicted and the Comfortable)

Donald Trump went to church last Sunday. Lots of people did. My guess is he doesn’t do that on the regular. Nor do most people who at one time or another have been religiously observant but for some some reason have been on a kind of hiatus. But you run for president and go back to church and people take notice.

I suppose it’s the job of the press to take note of such things. I don’t begrudge them. There is a curious bi-product of this kind of reporting though. It poses a kind of religiously voyeuristic Twilight Zone question: what…

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Serial Season 2 and the Second Prodigal Son

Serial Season 2 and the Second Prodigal Son

While ancient near east history lessons may add layers to the text, the basic story of the Prodigal Son– a father’s love for his two wayward sons- is easily accessible across millennia. The heartwarming first half of the parable, with the angry runaway’s return to his unexpectedly gentle father, transcends time. Who has ever lived and not longed for a paternal love like that?

And yet, the beloved first half of the parable is a setup for the second half’s word of judgment. The father’s grace divides the family, and as the party for the returned runaway kicks into high gear,…

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Election Year Wisdom from W.H. Auden

If we were never alone or always too busy,
Perhaps we might even believe what we know is not true:
But no one is taken in, at least not all of the time;
In our bath, or the subway, or in the middle of the night,
We know very well we are not unlucky but evil,
That the dream of a Perfect State or No State at all,
To which we fly for refuge, is a part of our punishment.
Let us therefore be contrite but without anxiety,
For Powers and Times are not gods but mortal gifts from God;
Let us acknowledge our defeats but without despair,
For all societies and epochs are transient details,
Transmitting an everlasting opportunity
That the Kingdom of Heaven may come, not in our present
And not in our future, but in the Fullness of Time.
Let us pray.

For The Time Being; A Christmas Oratorio