Reading: Arrested Development & Biblical Hermeneutics, Fatherhood & The Flash, Gawker’s Implosion, Apple Music & more

Also: Discernment blogs, Planned Parenthood, the search for alien life, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,’ and H.P. Lovecraft’s ongoing relevance.
Arrested Development

Roberto De La Noval argues that Arrested Development, with its deeply layered storytelling and meta-textual elements, “is perfect for honing the textual attention that is necessary for a fruitful reading of the Scriptures.” More: “[I]t is the Scriptures that I am concerned with — not biblical texts as records of discrete historical times, but rather the Bible as a coherent unit, brought together under the auspices of the Holy Spirit and fitted in God’s providence for leading Christians to the contemplation of the Triune God as revealed in the text, the Church, and the world. If such contemplation seems a lofty topic to set alongside Arrested — well, it is. But if grace builds on nature, we should not be surprised that the enjoyment of this cult show may prepare us for the reading of sacred texts.”

Jeet Heer laments that superhero movies and comic books have become too adult-oriented. “The superhero genre was originally created as all ages entertainment, aimed mainly at kids but sometimes done in a manner that allowed adults to enjoy them as well. So isn’t it odd that the dominant mode of the genre is now so skewed towards an adult audience? And is this really the best use of the genre?” Heer’s article is too generalizing about comics in general, and reflects a poor understand of comic book history, but I have to agree: I’m starting to prefer lighter superhero fare like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Flash.

The Flash

Speaking of The Flash, Adam Graham writes about the show’s positive depiction of fathers and their influence. “While many media portrayals still focus on dumb, debased and dysfunctional dads, The Flash took a surprisingly different course by telling the story of a character that was powered as much by the love of two fathers as he was by the Speed Force.”

After Gawker pulled an article outing a gay executive (at a rival company), two of its editors resigned in protest and now it’s experiencing a growing backlash. “The inflammatory post was now at the center of a debate over journalistic integrity, with Mr. Craggs and Mr. Read saying that the decision to delete it, against their wishes, constituted an unforgivable violation of the site’s editorial independence. It made for a strange spectacle — two editors standing on principle in defense of such an unsavory article.” I understand concerns about the wall separating editorial and advertising being breached. At the same time, I’m experiencing more than a little schadenfreude over Gawker falling apart. Sometimes you reap what you sow. (I doubt even a rebrand will fix things.)

Gawker Media

What’s it like to be the target of Gawker’s viciousness? Mary Elizabeth Williams says it was devastating. “For a company that claims to pride itself on freedom of expression, I wonder if they’ve ever considered the profoundly chilling effect their tactics have had on others. It’s been a while now, but I have never stopped looking over my shoulder, wondering how I might again incite the outrage of Gawker, and what form that might take. It’s a sickening feeling.”

Luke T. Harrington notes the irony of Gawker’s existence. “[U]ltimately, this is what Gawker represents: the broken promise of the early Internet. Piles of information, but very little Truth to be gleaned from it. A glorified tabloid operated by those who fancy themselves speakers of truth to power, but few of them with meaningful Truth to speak, and all of them beholden, in the end, to the very Powers they hate.”

Angry Computer Guy

Also at Christ and Pop Culture, E. Stephen Burnett writes about another source of vicious, vitriolic writing on the web: “discernment” blogs. “I do not challenge biblical discernment. But I do want to challenge quarrelsome discernment: a counterfeit “discernment” that revels in the fight, refuses to listen to others, is careless with the truth, and twists one biblical instruction — to rebuke false teaching — into a chief end of a Christian’s ministry.”

Matthew Lee Anderson on the “dehumanizing” rhetoric of Planned Parenthood: “Planned Parenthood may not make a single dime off of participating in such a system. But they are still in a market’ where the other people and institutions who do benefit from receiving the fetal tissue’ doubtlessly reciprocally support Planned Parenthood in other ways, if only through donation and political support. The practice of treating infant bodies as products in a transaction should itself shock us, regardless of who profits from it.”

Apple Music

Apple recently released their “Apple Music” service to great fanfare, but Jim Dalrymple says it’s a nightmare. “Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.” His fellow Loop blogger, Dave Mark, still sees potential in the service, however.

Apparently, the recent discovery of the Earth-like planet Kepler-452b is bad news for God and religion. “I would like here to preempt what will certainly be a re-write of history on the part of the world’s major religions. I predict with great confidence that all will come out and say such a discovery is completely consistent with religious teachings. My goal here is to declare this as nonsense before it happens.” That article should be re-titled to “Crappy Biblical Hermeneutics, Example #25,356,485.” Also, the Church has been considering the theological ramifications of alien life since the 13th century.

Radio Telescopes
(ESO/José Francisco SalgadoCC BY 4.0)

Speaking of alien life, why are scientists so prone to un-scientific hyperbole when the topic comes up? “Let’s dissect Hawking’s wisdom a little further. Simple life on other worlds seems very likely.’ Tosh! … [U]nless the odds of life emerging from inanimate matter, and under what conditions, are known, and they are not, Hawking’s statement is mere speculation. Speculation itself is fine, but it should be clearly labelled as such.” Via

I remember watching the trailers for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and thinking we were entering a new age of fantastical filmmaking. However, after its dismal box office performance, the film’s creaters disappeared and The Telegraph’s Olly Richards wonders why. “The fact is, every effects-driven movie you watch this summer — ie, all of them — will owe them some kind of debt. It could even be argued that the Conrans laid the groundwork for pretty much all the big event unveiled at this year’s Comic-Con. But time and Hollywood have forgotten the Conrans. Their part in the creation of the modern blockbuster has been all but forgotten.”

Hugh Hancock offers an interesting tech-oriented theory why H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction still resonates to this day. “Any programmer who has suddenly realised that he can’t fit all of the code he’s working on into his head understands Lovecraft’s concept of knowledge that the human mind can’t process. And anyone who knows, say, that we literally can’t untangle all the ways that Greece’s debt intertwines with the rest of the financial market, or that sufficiently deep datasets in places like Google and Facebook will produce results that we are utterly incapable of truly understanding, gets the terror of realising that there’s something big and alien out there that we just aren’t smart enough to understand.”

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