Category: Arts & Leisure

Cults and Daggers: can you fit God in the machine?

As the author of a book about Christianity and video games, I’m naturally interested in how game makers choose to represent religion. So when I read what was supposedly a review of Cults and Daggers, but was really a poignant, troubling and beautifully written reflection on author Nathan Grayson’s loss of faith, I had to play this game. And now I wish I hadn’t. It’s not because my faith has…  [more]

Imagining prayer

It was early fall and the start of another academic semester when the accident occurred. A new student, testing his long-boarding skills on the mountainous roads that surrounded our college, had hit the pavement hard without the protection of a helmet. I had yet to meet the young man, but as the college chaplain I rushed to the hospital to join his family. Once inside I was ushered to an upper floor marked by an…  [more]

Louis C.K. is not a good person

Louis C.K.’s recent Saturday Night Live monologue drew fire by surmising that child molestation must be really, really fun - otherwise, why would molesters risk so much to keep doing it? He generally survives the outrage that such jokes evoke by being the first to admit his own moral failings. No one in public life today is quicker to point out that, “Yeah, I’m not a good guy. I am not. I wish I was…  [more]

Holding onto hope in Mad Max: Fury Road

When things fall apart, as they have in Mad Max: Fury Road, it can be telling to watch how society rebuilds itself. In fact, at least in the movies, few things so starkly reveal the fallen nature of humanity and its structures than a dose of genre apocalypse. A resuscitation of the Mel Gibson franchise of the 1980s, Fury Road takes place in a post-apocalyptic desert where gasoline and water are in excruciatingly…  [more]

Forgiving Don Draper

Was last night's Mad Men finale everything we wanted it to be? The answer says as much about our theological perspective as it does about our aesthetics. When it comes to serialized television finales, what we viewers seem to want most is a reason to believe in a creator that is benevolent in our own image. We become keenly aware that the fates of characters we’ve followed for years rest in the hands of a…  [more]

Why I think Mad Men is headed for the abyss

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:14 From the animated opening credits of the first episode, AMC’s Mad Men has been about holding one’s composure in the face of life’s terrifying abyss. We see a silhouette of a man entering a well-appointed office, which he claims by setting his briefcase on the floor.…  [more]

Avengers: Age of Ultron’s tiny dollop of grace

“There is grace in their failings. I think you missed that.” There aren’t many quiet exchanges in Avengers: Age of Ultron, another run-of-the-mill, punchplosive Marvel movie. But near the end we do get an intriguing discussion between two central figures. It’s something of an addendum, after yet another city has been destroyed in the rubble-strewn climax. The villain – a malevolent,…  [more]

Mumford & Sons’ milder Wilder Mind

So yeah, Mumford & Sons have ditched the prospector clothes and the acoustic instrumentation for Wilder Mind. It’s hardly surprising, either. Babel took the band’s trademark arena folk to unsustainable heights and, as with post-Rattle and Hum U2, it was time for the poster boys of populist Americana to dream it all up again. Unlike their Irish forebearers, however, these sons seem to have lost the…  [more]

Ex Machina and what it (might) mean to be human

What makes us human? And how is that related to the way we’re made in God’s image? These are perennial questions that tantalizingly linger along the edges of the new science-fiction thriller Ex Machina, my favorite film of the year thus far. Written and directed by Alex Garland, who brings a cool mercilessness to the proceedings, Ex Machina imagines the birth of artificial intelligence in the form of a…  [more]

Podcasting’s still, small voice

I sing the praise of Ira Glass, Sara Koenig and Jad Abumrad. I tout the triumph of closely produced programming: This American Life, Serial, Radiolab. I hail the voice of the podcast. At Slate, Jonah Weiner extends this paean by suggesting that the podcasting voice can increase the range of what we care for. He refers to the “empathic encounter” of audio fare that “knocks us outside of a blinkered…  [more]

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