I see this as another one of those Christiany “teachable moment” type films. Coming to a church basement near you…
I see this as another one of those Christiany “teachable moment” type films. Coming to a church basement near you…
“We’re an information economy. They teach you that in school. What they don’t tell you is that it’s impossible to move, to live, to operate any any level without leaving traces, bits, seemingly meaningless fragments of personal information. Fragments that can be retrieved . . . amplified . . .”
—”Johnny Mnemonic” (short story, 1981)
So I was doing some maintenance work on the site this morning but forgot to take it offline first — and so if you suddenly wound up with literally hundreds of old posts in your inbox or RSS feed — ignore, and please accept my apologies.
Here’s the deal: I had intended months ago to make Strange Herring a site dedicated strictly to movie and pop culture stuff and move everything else to another, new blog. To that end, I made “private” a good 1800 posts so that only the pop culture posts remained here.
When it became apparent the kind of work it would take to make the transition to another site, and an offer was made to move Strange Herring to a multifaith site, I decided against it my original plan, and so have slowly been republishing those old posts.
But if I forget to take the site offline, those old posts appear as “new” posts to those who subscribe to the site.
Hence, the hundreds of “new” posts.
Again–my apologies. Needless to say, if you see this site offline sometime later today or tomorrow, you’ll know why.
Well, not so new anymore. More like Gen X-hausted Atheists. Tired of the bellicosity and superficiality of so much of the Dawkins/Dennett/Harris type. Smarter, perhaps. At least about life.
Atheism is still with us. But the movement that threatened to form has petered out. Crucially, atheism’s younger advocates are reluctant to compete for the role of Dawkins’s disciple. They are more likely to bemoan the new atheist approach and call for large injections of nuance. A good example is the pop-philosopher Julian Baggini. He is a stalwart atheist who likes a bit of a scrap with believers, but he’s also able to admit that religion has its virtues, that humanism needs to learn from it. For example, he has observed that a sense of gratitude is problematically lacking in secular culture, and suggested that humanists should consider ritual practices such as fasting. This is also the approach of the pop-philosopher king, Alain de Botton. His recent book Religion for Atheists rejects the ‘boring’ question of religion’s truth or falsity, and calls for ‘a selective reverence for religious rituals and concepts’. If you can take his faux-earnest prose style, he has some interesting insights into religion’s basis in community, practice, habit.
And liberal punditry has softened. Polly Toynbee’s younger sisters, so to speak, are wary of seeing all of religion as a misogynist plot. When Zoe Williams attacks religious sexism or homophobia she resists the temptation to widen the attack and imply that all believers are dunces or traitors. Likewise Tanya Gold recently ridiculed the idea of religion as a force for evil. ‘The idea of my late church-going mother-in-law beating homosexuals or instituting a pogrom is obviously ridiculous, although she did help with jumble sales and occasionally church flowers.’
You’re never going to get a revolution off the ground with that attitude!
In light of the utter failure of the Jesus Seminar to elicit anything other than ridicule, and the eye rolls Dawkins & Co. beget, I have noticed a mini resurgence of a another brand of foolishness marketing itself in the form of the God Who Wasn’t There crowd. You know: there never was Jesus to begin with. He’s a fictional character constructed by some preternaturally gifted first-century Jews who had nothing better to do but get themselves killed for their literary troubles.
But when even Bart Ehrman goes after you for your ignorance, what hope is there?
I can respect an honest skeptic. Someone without a religious sensibility and who in convinced that the miraculous is little more than wishful thinking and the detritus of a prescientific age. Someone who asks, If there is a God, wouldn’t He have done a better job of sorting out all the pretenders? Or of getting even true His followers to agree on something?
I’ve known people of this sort who were nevertheless not hostile to religion per se or unaware of its virtues. Makes for less-interesting debates, I’ll grant you. But there’s so much left for us to argue over. For example, who puts corn — corn I tell you — in pasta sauce? That’s just not right…
By the way, and not totally off topic: Have you all seen the video of Marvin Olasky interviewing Rosaria Butterfield? Or perhaps read reviews of her book (or just read her book)? Amazing story, and a primer on how to approach people you are tempted to write off as around-the-bend lost and possible treat with a not-so-thinly-veiled contempt. Lessons here for everyone.
A mean fisherman, foodie, and sometimes magician, but perhaps most famously known as the front man for a popular Air Supply tribute band, The Apostles, Jesus H. Crist died Friday of heart failure. He was 83.
Born on or around 0 BCE, to Judith, a Palestinian exile, and Jeremy, a Gadarene lumberjack, Jesus was diagnosed as “special needs” early on. A source of grief to his parents, given to disappearing for days on end and “mouthing off” to religious authorities about the ban on women priests and artificial contraception, the lad was for all intents and purposes put away until roughly the age of 30. It was at this time that he began appearing in public to entertain large crowds with rousing oratory and acts of legerdemain alternately described as “breathtaking” and “the work of Satan,” the renowned creator of Cirque du Soleil.
It was not long before an entourage formed around this charismatic figure. Jesus’ inner circle, or band, was composed of John, Peter, George (Aramaic for “the quiet one”), and Judas. They could often be seen “playing out” at various venues, riling up the young and “alienated” (especially women) while infuriating their elders.
But success for The Apostles proved fleeting. Members of the group began to resent Jesus’ popularity, as well as his habit of arriving late for gigs after lingering at popular hangouts, weddings, and impromptu picnics. Jesus’ politics were also a source of unease. Speaking out against the 1 percent and threatening to initiate urban renewal plans without appropriate permits, it was only a matter of time before civil authorities began to label the popular personality as a troublemaker. At this time also, Air Supply opened a series of lawsuits against The Apostles, claiming copyright infringement, citing especially “Just as I Am,” which they claim Jesus rewrote without permission. Rival band The Pharisees was also suing the group for liable.
Drugs, too, were said to have played a role in the disintegration of The Apostles. Jesus was rumored to enter “altered” states in which he claimed to be the long lost son of legendary Swedish rock group ABBA. Others blame a woman, known as “Madge,” as the real reason for the band’s split.
Two days ago, a financial dispute with Judas grew heated, resulting in Jesus’ being taken into police custody, where he “collapsed” after an officer suffered an injury to his ear. Authorities blame alcohol, but accusations of police brutality are being investigated.
Funeral arrangements were not finalized at press time.
New York. This according to the Mercatus Center of George Mason University.
And by “free,” they mean. . .
We ground our conception of freedom on an individual rights framework. In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, and property as they see fit, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. This understanding of freedom follows from the natural-rights liberal thought of John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and Robert Nozick, but it is also consistent with the rights-generating rule-utilitarianism of Herbert Spencer and others.
A quick perusal of some of the criteria, however, reveals that there is a libertarian/laisse-faire preference at work here (“marijuana,” “gaming” and “tobacco” liberties are given weight in these measurements, as is “marriage” freedom). A liberal-left set of criteria applied to the states — freedom from “want,” say, or freedom from “discrimination,” all government supervised, of course — would most probably result in an inversion of this list, no doubt.
Oh, the five most free states according to Mercatus: North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and Tennessee.
And the second least-free state was . . . California.
Real quick, and like you care anymore, what with most of these films being three years old already:
Lincoln: Script good not great, played too much to a 21st-century audience. So glad they didn’t show the assassination. To watch that man die would have been unbearable. And how good was Day Lewis? If Lincoln were to come back from the dead, someone would shoot him again, just because he wasn’t as good as Daniel Day Lewis.
Silving Linings Playbook: Performances so giddy and full of life that they transcended utterly ridiculous script. A mental-illness rom-com with . . . a happy ending. Geodon, Geodon, wherefore art thou, Geodon?
Django Unchained: If you can remember it’s a comedy, you’ll be fine. Underrated performance: Don Johnson as evil plantation owner. (Proto-Klan “my hood is broken” scene had me in stitches. But Best Screenplay? I don’t get it either…)
Zero Dark Thirty: Exactly what you would have wanted from a film on this subject: filmmakers who took a step back from the material — no judgments, just grim, almost pedestrian account. Torture scenes smack neither of Roger Corman or Michael Moore. You feel neither sympathy nor blood lust nor righteous indignation. The scenes in Pakistan are documentary chilling. Chastain’s performance could have been given by any number of talented actresses, however. Hollywood never showed its hypocrisy more than by denying director Kathryn Bigelow a nomination. Complain, complain, complain about not enough women behind the camera — and here is a genuinely gifted director, and crickets.
Jack Reacher: Here’s the thing about Tom Cruise: people love to hate him, and I can’t figure out why. I don’t care about his phony baloney religion. That’s his business. It’s not like he made Battlefield Earth. But he keeps getting miscast, film after film. And yet — he’s never really bad. Valkyrie? Last person on earth I would have cast in that role. (Well, maybe Weird Al Yankovic is literally the last person I would have cast.) And yet — he wasn’t bad. Here too. If you know anything about the original Jack Reacher character, you’re thinking someone like a young Dolph Lundgren or The Rock. But 5’7″ Tom Cruise? And yet — he’s not bad. The script was tedious, and so better casting would not have saved this thing. I would recommend watching it on cable or via Netflix, though, just for the great Werner Herzog — director of such films as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre Wrath of God — playing the perfect Bond villain, and for Robert Duvall, just because he’s Robert Duvall. And if you want to catch a performance by Cruise in which he shines like a solar flare and blows away the competition, rent the putrid Rock of Ages, which is about Moral Majority types going after . . . rock n roll. In the 1980s. Right. Missed it by that much, or about 30 years. (Maybe they just confused Phyllis Schlafly and Tipper Gore.) Anyway, Cruise is fantastic, an absolute blast — and who knew he could sing?
Just caught Steven Soderbergh’s supposedly last film, Side Effects. Seriously depressed woman (Rooney Mara) is put on a conveyor belt of anti-depressants by her psychologist (Jude Law) and suffers terrible — wait for it — side effects. One side effect is so bad, a lot of people wind up in handcuffs. Quite compelling melodrama that doesn’t play like melodrama, mainly because everyone is so impassive and analytical through most of it. I do have to admit, though, that literally all the women characters in this film are either evil, weak, disloyal, or nuts. I don’t think you have to be a feminist to be disturbed by this.
AND AND, speaking of Netflix — have you seen House of Cards? Like Silver Linings Playbook, a romantic comedy about mentally ill people. That it’s the Democrats who are the evil, corrupt schemers is a nice change of pace for Hollywood. But remember: the only reason Republicans don’t play much of a role here is because they’re thought irrelevant. The Dems may be sociopaths, but they’re sociopaths on the right side of history.
Speaking of which: I’d appreciate it if you’d bookmark Intercollegiatereview.com, as I will be posting other kinds of stuff there every now and again. (For example, on Monday my post will be “This Is You, on the Wrong Side of History.”)
Thanks — and you stay classy, San Diego.