In Memoriam (The Oh Hello’s)

“And heaven knows I’m prone to leave the only God I should have loved/And yet you’re far too beautiful to leave me.” – The Oh Hello’s

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It’s 3 AM and I’m Talking About Superheroes

_1395260042As I write this, the clock is telling me it’s 3:16 am – a fact I completely believe, given that my head is fixing make unbridled contact with the keyboard any second now. But that’s okay. I just returned from a late showing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and seldom has exhaustion felt so satisfying.

This isn’t really a review - the wee hours of the morning are not my finest, coherency-wise - but I would like to tell you to go see this movie. Seriously, folks. Even if you’re not a fan of superhero movies, go see this one. It’s splendid, and sweetly ironic, too: here is Marvel’s “dullest superhero” delivering the smartest, coolest, and most sophisticated film in the canon to date.

If it helps, allow me to put it in these terms: The Winter Soldier is a 12 oz. steak, next to which The Avengers is a jar of Gerber baby food. Yes, I really went there. Your move, Mr. Whedon.

P.S. This may or may not have been the first Marvel film to make me misty-eyed.

P.P.S. Hold onto your butts: the action scenes are insane.

P.P.P.S. There are two post-credit scenes. You do not want to miss either one.

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The New Wave of Shock Fiction

In A Landscape with Dragons, Michael O’Brien makes a key distinction between the horrors found in classical tales and the horrors that saturate so much contemporary fiction:

These shocks are presented as ends to themselves, raw violence as entertainment. In sharp contrast, the momentary horrors that occur in classical tales always have a higher purpose; they are intended to underline the necessity of courage, ingenuity, and character; the tales are about brave young people struggling through adversity to moments of illumination, truth, and maturity; they emphatically demonstrate that good is far more powerful than evil. Not so with the new wave of shock fiction… This nasty little world offers a thrill per minute, but it is like a sealed room from which the oxygen is slowly removed, replaced by an atmosphere of nightmare and a sense that the forces of evil are nearly omnipotent.

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Flotsam & Jetsam (4/1)

Shock Report – “Back then, they called him Molech and they killed in primitive darkness. Today they call him Choice and they kill in clean, white rooms.”

Teach Him a Code of Honor – An excerpt from A Landscape with Dragons.

Aronofsky’s Noah: a panoply of Jewish paganism – Fascinating: “All this wrangling with God, but of course, Aronofsky doesn’t even believe in God. For him and his partner, ‘God’ is a literary construct used to explore the human condition. And thus, in the end, we find that all we have is our choices and our values and our mercy. And that’s what drives this apostate Jewish tradition, and what drives Aronofsky’s Noah.”

Christian Discernment and Candace Cameron as a Model of Modesty – My Mom hits this one out of the park. Just sayin.

Why Is This Issue Different? – DeYoung writes, “I received an email yesterday afternoon to this effect: Could someone please give a short, simple explanation as to why the issue of homosexuality is not like Christians differing on baptism or the millennium?”

Wolverine The Musical – ‘Who Am I?’ from Les Mis like you’ve never heard it before.

Sympathy for the Devil - Possibly the best piece on Noah I’ve read yet.

“We should not think that those who will not listen to what Scripture says will listen to anything else – so why resort to gimmickry?” - D.A. Carson

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On Defending ‘Noah’ Poorly

I haven’t seen the new Noah movie, so this is not a review, nor does it pretend to be. Let that be said up front, lest anyone try to collar me for “speaking of that which he knoweth not.”

I’ve been following the controversy generated by the film for awhile now. Some Christians love Aronofsky’s work, others hate it, and still others have a lukewarm respect for it. The arguments from all three camps have been fun to follow. But there’s one argument from the Love It Camp which I can’t stand, and that is the “not a theologian” argument. Take, for example, Jim Daly (president of Focus on the Family) arguing thusly:

Darren Aronofsky is not a theologian, nor does he claim to be. He is a filmmaker and a storyteller.

Really now. This is such obvious nonsense that I have difficulty believing it was spoken with a straight face. (And as an aside: I’ve never heard this “logic” applied to any other director or film.) Theology, in a nutshell, is simply – or not so simply – what and how we think about God. So Aronofsky is very much a theologian. We all are. We may be good theologians, we may be bad theologians, but we cannot be non-theologians.

It will be said I’m clowning about with semantics here; that what Daly meant is that Aronofsky didn’t go to seminary or graduate with a Th.D. or something like that. My response would be threefold:

First, Daly’s wording is poor, and reinforces the widespread notion that theology is something only academics do, which is a 12oz can of Grade-A crapola.

Second, his statement implies a rift between theology and storytelling, as if the one had little or no effect on the other. More crapola. All stories are theological on some level, for the simple reason that what you think of the Storyteller will determine your approach to stories.

Third, so what? So what if Aronofsky didn’t go to seminary, or get some letters tacked on to the end of his name? This does not mean he gets a free pass on the Theology Boogaloo Express. After all, the test of a good storyteller isn’t merely whether he is compelling, but whether he is truthful. A certain snake in a certain garden once told a compelling tale. It was so compelling mankind has never recovered.

Again, I haven’t seen the movie, and until I do, I will not attempt to debate those of you who have. All I’m saying is, if you’re going to defend it, you’ll have to do better than that.

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