Category : Movies & Television

(TGC) Trevin Wax–Should We Pull The Plug On Cable News?

A steady diet of cable news reinforces the idea that everything is about politics, that everything is life or death, and that we should all devote our attention to the big news story every day. (Consider how news channels count down to big events, as if the entire country waits breathlessly for whatever the channel determines is most important!)

No TV 

Recently, I finished Andy Crouch’s The Tech-wise Familya book from a journalist and writer who I’ve long respected for his insight into faith and culture. Crouch is a brilliant commentator on society and culture. And he doesn’t have a television in the living room. The TV is in the basement. (The family turns it on so rarely that his daughter wasn’t even sure they had one!)

John Piper, a preacher and writer highly influential in American evangelicalism (especially among younger generations) doesn’t have a TV at all. He’s never had one.

Which makes me wonder: could it be that the reason Andy Crouch’s cultural analysis is so astute and Piper’s devotional and exegetical writing is so compelling is because they don’t spend time in front of the screen?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television

(Premier) Star from hit Television show ‘Gladiators’ joins Archbishop Sentamu’s evangelism drive

A former star of the hit television show Gladiators-turned evangelist is joining a major evangelism event being led by the Archbishop of York in Merseyside.

Warren Furman, known as ‘Ace’ on the 1990s programme Gladiator, is sharing with primary and secondary school pupils his journey to faith as part of the Believe in Birkenhead initiative.

Speaking with Premier, Bishop of Birkenhead Rt Rev Keith Sinclair said his prayer for the four-day campaign was that “people who might have thought God wouldn’t give them a second thought realise God’s love for them and God’s work in their lives, and they start to begin a journey to come back and engage with that reality.”

Mr Furman’s being joined during the question and answer session on Thursday by the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu and several local Anglican bishops.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Movies & Television

(Atlantic) Kurt Andersen–How America Lost Its Mind

When did america become untethered from reality?

I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness. “Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart … Face it, folks, we are a divided nation … divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart … Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Entertainment, History, Movies & Television, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology

(CT) ‘They Call Us Monsters’ Offers a More Compassionate Brand of Juvenile Justice–a look at Ben Lear’s directorial debut production

The question at the heart of Lear’s film, then, isn’t whether these children deserve to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Undoubtedly, they do. Rather, it’s whether we’re willing to take a second look at these “monsters” and see something of ourselves in their plight.

The simple fact is that there’s no such thing as an “adult” crime, just as there’s no such thing as a “respectable” sin. Apart from God’s unmerited grace in Jesus Christ, none of us would have any hope if God had elected to deal with us the way our legal system deals with juvenile rapists and murders.

As people who know better than any the transformative power of grace, we have every cause to support an approach to justice that holds offenders accountable while still leaving room for the possibility of redemption and restoration. There are plenty who would say that the final scene of these teenagers’ lives has already been written, and they’ve walked out on the rest of the show. They Call Us Monsters dares to suggest that there are plenty more unexpected plot twists yet to be revealed, if we’re willing to stick around for the whole production.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Sam Shepard in 2014: ‘America is on its way out as a culture’

These days, he reads a lot of Irish writers. “They are head and shoulders above,” he says. “It’s the ability to take language and spin it.” And a lot of South Americans, too, “because they seem to have a handle on the ability to cross time and depth.” He struggles to think of contemporary American writers he rates, beyond Denis Johnson. “The thing about American writers is that as a group they get stuck in the same idea: that we’re a continent and the world falls away after us. And it’s just nonsense.”

Did he ever get stuck in that idea? “I couldn’t see beyond the motel room and the desert and highway,” he says slowly, and turns his glass a little. “I couldn’t see that there was another world. To me, the whole world was encompassed in that. I thought that was the only world that mattered.

“And it’s still there,” he adds, “but now it’s redundant because everything’s replaced by strip malls.”

The situation, he believes, is irredeemable. “We’re on our way out,” he says of America. “Anybody that doesn’t realise that is looking like it’s Christmas or something. We’re on our way out, as a culture. America doesn’t make anything anymore! The Chinese make it! Detroit’s a great example. All of those cities that used to be something. If you go to a truck stop in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, you’ll probably see the face of America. How desperate we are. Really desperate. Just raw.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., History, Movies & Television, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(Gallup) Andrew Dugan–Moral Acceptance of Polygamy in the U.S. is at Record High — But Why?

It is certainly true that moral perceptions have significantly, fundamentally changed on a number of social issues or behaviors since 2001 — most notably, gay/lesbian relations, having a baby outside of wedlock, sex between unmarried men and women, and divorce. But these attitudinal changes did not occur in isolation. They have occurred alongside important cultural and legal changes, including the rising propensity of divorce following changes to state laws at the end of the 20th century and the gay rights movement that ultimately succeeded in legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015, to name a few.

No such shifts have occurred with respect to polygamy. It remains illegal in all 50 states. And only this year, the state House of Utah, a state that outlawed the practice in 1895 in order to gain admission into the union, passed a bill that would, among other things, increase the penalties for convicted polygamists. And while academic research finds that covert polygamous marriages do exist in the U.S., they are uncommon and are largely confined to some immigrant Muslim groups and Mormon sects that have broken away from the mainstream church.

In short, there is little reason to believe that Americans are more likely to know or be polygamists now than at any other time in the past. But there is one way Americans may feel more familiar with or sympathetic to polygamy: television.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Movies & Television, Sexuality, Sociology

(FT) Netflix looks to become world’s entertainer as it hits milestone, passing 100m subscribers

2007 was a vintage year for technology. While there has been plenty of coverage of the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, the same year also saw Netflix, best known then for renting DVDs by post, launch another novel product: online movie streaming. At the time, some Netflix investors fretted about the expected $40m cost of launching its streaming service during its first year.

A decade later, Netflix’s share price performance has far exceeded even Apple’s 700 per cent increase since 2007, with the internet TV group’s stock skyrocketing by more than 6,000 per cent in the same period. This week added another 15 per cent to those gains, after second-quarter results showed its total subscribers had reached 104m, shooting through Wall Street forecasts.

Netflix described the symbolic milestone of exceeding 100m members as “a good start”. 

“We connect people with stories,” its recently redrawn mission statement says. “Someday, we hope to entertain everyone.”

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Entertainment, Movies & Television

(Economist) 2 documentaries probe Myanmar’s religious strife between the Rohingya and Buddhists

Though these films neatly complement each other, they are being received rather differently. “The Venerable W.” was shown with pomp at Cannes, while “Sittwe” was banned from the Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival in Yangon. This year’s edition was dedicated to Miss Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, with censors deeming the movie “religiously and culturally inappropriate”. Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, brands the decision as “ludicrous”. The ban, he explains, reveals the government’s authorities persistent bias against the Rohingya and the reluctance to present them as victims in any capacity. “The Rohingya have been put in a separate, untouchable category by the government, and any real discussion of their situation gets tarred with the same brush.”

“Sittwe” found an audience in Thailand instead. For Lia Sciortino Sumaryono, the director of Southeast Asia Junction, a non-profit organisation which hosted the screenings in Bangkok, the issue is relevant to the whole region. “Extremists movements are increasingly regionalised,” she says, pointing at the several contacts between extremist Buddhist networks in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and those of Islamist groups in the Philippines and Malaysia.

“The Venerable W.” and “Sittwe” offer some insight into a social and religious quagmire. Were the country open to talking meaningfully about relations between Buddhists and Muslims, the films could form part of the discussion. As it is not, acts of violence are likely to continue.

Read it all.

Posted in Buddhism, History, Movies & Television, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

Movie Recommendation–Their Finest

Posted in Movies & Television

Do not take yourself too seriously Dept–The Classic Tim Conway Dentist Sketch from the Carol Burnett Show

If you haven’t ever seen it, or even if you have take the time to watch it all.. Really, really funny.

Posted in Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television

(NYT) The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century. So Far.

We are now approximately one-sixth of the way through the 21st century, and thousands of movies have already been released. Which means that it’s high time for the sorting – and the fighting – to start. As the chief film critics of The Times, we decided to rank, with some help from cinema savants on Facebook, the top 25 movies that are destined to be the classics of the future. While we’re sure almost everyone will agree with our choices, we’re equally sure that those of you who don’t will let us know.

Read it all and see what you make of the list in terms of ones on that you think should be on and ones off you think should be on.

Posted in Movies & Television

TV recommendation–Happy Valley on Netflix

It is a superb UK drama for which the lead actress (deservedly) won a BAFTA for best actress. Definitely not suitable for under seventeens since it features content you would expect for a gritty investigatory story. Available on Netflix.

Posted in Entertainment, Movies & Television, Police/Fire

(LA Times)-Cheryl Allen has a different narrative about-Living ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’-+it raises uncomfortable questions about the secular liberal elites

Take those elite-class Wives. Liberals typically assume the 1% consists of striped-pants tycoons off the Monopoly board who reliably vote Republican and want to cram retrograde religious ideas down people’s throats. In fact, as social scientists (Charles Murray in “Coming Apart”) and political analysts (Michael Barone, writing recently for the Capital Research Center) have observed, it’s the Democratic Party that’s the party of the 1%: the tech and finance billionaires, the media and entertainment moguls who cluster in expensive ZIP Codes around metropolitan Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington.

Those folks aren’t known for their church-going, and they vote in favor of liberal social and economic causes from abortion and immigration rights to sustainable energy to higher taxes. They contribute heavily to political campaign, and with their upper-middle-class epigones they run the culture, deciding who gets banned on Twitter, which kinds of “diversity” are allowed on campuses, and what television programs we’ll be allowed to see. Today’s overclass Wives typically hold Ivy League degrees, “lean in” to high-status careers, and stand with Planned Parenthood.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Politics in General

(ABC Aus.) Katie Sutherland–Sesame Street’s Julia and moving autism on TV beyond the genius stereotype

Isolation is of particular concern for children on the autism spectrum, who may have difficulty making friends and are prone to bullying, often leading to mental health issues.

One study indicated that 63 per cent of children on the spectrum had been bullied in their lifetime, with 38 per cent bullied in the past month.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind Sesame Street, states that bullying was a key motivator for the introduction of Julia.

It also claims that nearly every family is affected by autism in some way.

In Australia, it is estimated that one in 100 people (around 230,000) have an autism spectrum disorder, while in the United States, this figure sits at around one in 68 people.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

Tim Challies review of The Shack: ‘the book has a quietly subversive quality to it’

So where does all of this leave us? It is clear to me that The Shack is a mix of good and bad. Young teaches much that is of value and he teaches it in a slick and effective way. Sadly, though, there is much bad mixed in with the good. As we pursue his major theological thrusts we see that many of them wander away, by varying degrees, from what God tells us in Scripture.

Despite the great amount of poor theology, my greatest concern is probably this one: the book has a quietly subversive quality to it. Young seems set on undermining orthodox Christianity. For example, at one point Mack states that,despite years of seminary and years of being a Christian, most of the things taught to him at the shack have never occurred to him before. Later he says, “I understand what you’re saying. I did that for years after seminary. I had the right answers, sometimes, but I didn’t know you. This weekend, sharing life with youhas been far more illuminating than any of those answers.”

Throughout the book there is this kind of subversive strain teaching that new and fresh revelation is much more relevant and important than the kind of knowledge we gain in sermons or seminaries or Scripture.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Books, Evangelicals, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology