“The Giver” and the Gift That Keeps on Taking

The_Giver_posterSo I have a review over at the Intercollegiate Review Online.

An excerpt:

“When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong. Every single time.” So says the Chief Elder, a firm believer in the Reformed doctrine of total depravity, apparently.

In The Giver, the film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s 1993 award-winning, giga-billion-selling novel, we are introduced to a Community born out of the Ruins, the result of a cataclysm so devastating that remnant elites constructed an artificial environment in which there is no war, no suffering, no envy, no jealousy, no differences to fight over. Sameness is Gospel in this world composed only of shades of gray. Intimacy is monitored by pervasive video cameras, and the word love is a desiccated monosyllable. Equality is enforced by The Rules, by eugenics, and a rigid control over language and emotion. All citizens of the Community are injected daily with a medication that dulls pain, mutes feeling, and reduces everyone to a quotidian docility. The folks here are perfunctorily polite. Even the climate is finally under control. (Snow? What’s snow?)

And in the interest of creating true community, all citizens are white or light-skinned. Even superficial differences can result in competition, after all, and value judgments. (Although someone constructing the ideal “race” must have decided that whitish is rightish.) All memory of the variegated and multihued past has been wiped from everyone’s consciousness.

Well, almost everyone.


The Rapper and the Nun

So Sister Cristina Scuccia is a 25-year-old Sicilian nun who appeared on the Italian edition of The Voice. J-Ax, apparently, is a rapper of devilish reputation.

When asked by the host what the Vatican thought about her appearing on The Voice, Sister Cristina replied, “Listen, I really don’t know. I am waiting for Pope Francesco to call me on the phone . . . He always says we should go out and evangelize, telling [people that] God doesn’t take anything away from us, but will give us more.”


A Tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman

Crafted by one Caleb Slain, this is a wonderful mosaic of Hoffman’s work. My favorite performances had to have been those given in Charlie Wilson’s War, The Master, Mission Impossible III (in which he definitely plays against type, and to great effect), Doubt, and Synechdoche, New York. (His Oscar-winning performance as Truman Capote goes without saying.)

See if you agree with me that there are a couple of overwrought turns, particularly in Patch Adams and Almost Famous.

Warning: there are many many uses of the eff word. Many many.

Is This the Worst Sitcom in the History of Sitting?

Imagine some comic “genius” finds himself standing in an elevator next to a TV-network executive and decides he has 30 seconds to make a pitch for what he believes will be a groundbreaking situation comedy.

COMIC GENIUS: Think “Adolf and Eva — their home life.” Like The Honeymooners, only starring a genocidal madman and his lady love. Imagine the gags: Hitler has a bad day at at the Eastern Front and decides he’s not taking the garbage out no matter what Eva says. Eva think Hitler’s having an affair and so decides to bug his office. Hitler and Eva are tired of their wacky next-door neighbors, the Mengeles, coming over every Saturday night and showing them more photographs of “twins.”

EXECUTIVE (laughing hysterically): Stop it, stop it, oh my sides!!

Now imagine that the genius pitching the idea is decidedly not Mel Brooks.

Well, I give you Heil Honey, I’m Home!

For some more background, check out the indispensable Mental Floss’s take.

Nice Italian Boy Teaches Philosophy at Oxford

Vince Vitale is

Senior Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, Tutor in Philosophy and Mission at Wycliffe Hall, a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford, and a speaker for RZIM Europe.  He holds a D.Phil. in Philosophy and an M.Phil. in Theology, both from the University of Oxford. His primary research interests are in philosophy of religion, epistemology, and ethics. Vince is erstwhile Secretary of the Joseph Butler Society for the Philosophy of Religion and previously taught with rank of Lecturer in the Philosophy and Religion Departments of his alma mater, Princeton University, where he committed his life to Jesus Christ as an undergraduate and later served as Director of Athletes in Action Christian Fellowship. Vince has a passion for the intersection of faith and sport. He played varsity soccer at Princeton, has been awarded Blues in football and boxing at Oxford, and has traveled with Athletes in Action soccer teams to four continents. Vince and his wife Jo met at St. Aldate’s Church, Oxford.

This according to his profile at Ravi Zacharias International ministries.

In this brief video, Vince makes the case that God is not only not dead; he’s alive and well in … the philosophy departments of institutions like Oxford.

Enjoy and be edified:

H/T to TitusOneNine

A Strange Preview: Persecuted

So Persecuted, regarded as either an “action drama mystery” or a “Christian thriller,”  stars former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson as a Roman Catholic priest (and Dean Stockwell, Raoul Trujillo, and Bruce Davison as other people).

IMDB.com provides this synopsis:

Nationally acclaimed evangelist John Luther is the last obstacle in the way of sweeping religious reform in the States. When a U.S. Senator and Luther’s own supporters abduct and frame him in the murder of an innocent teenage girl, an unprecedented era of persecution is unleashed. Out on personal recognizance, Luther escapes police surveillance in search of the truth. And suddenly, a once-normal life is targeted by a team of ex-military operatives who wage a relentless campaign to eliminate the incriminating evidence. As evangelist turned fugitive, Luther vows to expose anyone involved with or profiting from the girl’s murder; a mission that brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of persecution that will threaten the entire Christian community in America.

Everybody got that?

It sounds — and looks — a tad overwrought, nay hysterical (and not in that good way, like when everyone starts screaming simultaneously and then stops abruptly). But we live in perilous times, and who knows what wackiness has yet to be unleashed upon the God botherers by those who are bothered by God.

Take a look for yourself. And remember: today’s paranoia is tomorrow’s 20/20 hindsight. (I have no idea what that means. But on the off-chance that it’s profound, I call dibs.)