Reading: Hackers, MST3K, The Silver Surfer, Nativity Scenes, Prayer Shaming & more

Also: Living in a hologram, Halo’s storytelling shortcomings, Sanjay’s Super Team, and Star Wars economics.
Hackers Movie

Finally, an oral history of the making of Hackers. “[D]espite inauspicious start, Hackers has grown to become one of the most beloved films of the 90s. This is a story about the making of that movie and the ambitious filmmakers who, over time, have been vindicated by their hyperkinetic vision.” I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Working on computers will never be as cool as it was depicted in Hackers.

You can relax: As it turns out, we’re probably not living inside a hologram. “The $2.5 million experiment was controversial from the get-go, with the inventors of the holographic principle counting among the naysayers. So expect to see a bit of schadenfreude making the rounds of the theoretical physics community today.”

Silver Surfer - Dan Slott, Michael Allred

The Silver Surfer has long been my favorite superhero, so I’m pleased to see him pop up in the latest installment of Christ and Pop Culture’s “Panel Discussion” column. “Dawn and the Surfer have been busy building an entirely new universe: she has been rebuilding Earth and he the cosmos. However, in the process of creating the heavens and earth, they have made mistakes and errors that are causing disarray in the new universe.”

Cult favorite Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is returning after a successful Kickstarter campaign, ready to riff on a whole new array of bad movies. In this recent Vice interview, series creator Joel Hodgson explains an important element to riffing. “I think there’s always something to admire about the movies we riffed on. Movies are a wonderful time capsule, of style, locations, music, and values, It might not be what the director or actors wanted us to admire, but I don’t think you can spend the time to write riffs and make a whole episode out of a movie you just hate.”

Nativity Scene
(AlkeldaCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Hate to ruin your Christmas, but your nativity scene is probably historically and scripturally inaccurate. “I’ve never found a Western nativity scene that included cousins or aunties. But Middle Eastern cultures have always valued family and hospitality. Mary and Joseph were traveling to Joseph’s ancestral home. He would naturally have had relatives there, and they would have welcomed him.”

GB Burford finds the storyline of the recent Halo games underwhelming. “There’s no reason to do anything in Halo any more, and that’s in large part because there are no opportunities to be a hero. Nothing makes sense. There are no stakes. It’s just a bunch of what if the good guys were actually bad?’ as if that mattered.”

Sanjay's Super Team, Sanjay Patel

Pixar’s latest short, Sanjay’s Super Team, portrays a parent’s struggle to pass on their faith to their children. “Helmed by first-time director Sanjay Patel, who was raised by devoutly Hindu immigrant parents in San Bernardino, the autobiographical short tells the story of a father’s repeated — and failed — attempts to get his son Sanjay, who is perpetually distracted by superhero cartoons, to meditate beside him.”

When the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, they likely destroyed the galactic economy, too. “[W]e found that the Rebel Alliance would need to prepare a bailout of at least 15 percent, and likely at least 20 percent, of GGP in order to mitigate the systemic risks and the sudden and catastrophic economic collapse. Without such funds at the ready, it is likely the Galactic economy would enter an economic depression of astronomical proportions.” Via


After the San Bernardino shooting, those responding with “thoughts and prayers” were roundly criticized. Emma Green posits that “prayer shaming” reveals something our current political situation. “There are many assumptions packed into these attacks on prayer: that all religious people, and specifically Christians, are gun supporters, and vice versa. That people who care about gun control can’t be religious, and if they are, they should keep quiet in the aftermath of yet another heart-wrenching act of violence. At one time in American history, liberals and conservatives shared a language of God, but that’s clearly no longer the case; any invocation of faith is taken as implicit advocacy of right-wing political beliefs.”

More on prayer shaming: Andy Crouch offers 13 theses on “thoughts and prayers,” including this powerful reminder: “To offer prayer in the wake of tragedy is not, except in the most flattened and extreme versions of populist Christianity, to ask God to fix’ anything. It is to hold those who were harmed, and those who harmed, before the mercy of God.”

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