Jeffrey Overstreet explains why The Innocence Mission’s gentle, sad-yet-hopeful music can be so necessary. “The more an artist acknowledges and expresses the brokenness we know in this life, the more meaningful her praises of beauty and declarations of hope become.”
Technology is great, but it can be disturbing and even haunting. For example, when you see your dead mother on Google Maps. “The confluence of emotions, when I registered what I was looking at, was unlike anything I had ever experienced — something akin to the simultaneous rush of a million overlapping feelings. There was joy, certainly — “Mom! I found you! Can you believe it?” — but also deep, deep sadness. There was heartbreak and hurt, curiosity and wonder, and everything, seemingly, in between.” Related: Eric Meyer experienced “inadvertent algorithmic cruelty” on Facebook after his daughter died.
What does Final Fantasy X have in common with the works of celebrated Japanese author Shusaku Endo? “Final Fantasy X and Silence each offer revelations about suffering but they stand in powerful contrast to one another. I saved the world of Spira by rejecting suffering; Christ saved ours by embracing it.”
Speaking of video games, meet the Japanese gamers who prefer to date their favorite characters. “According to The Japan Times, 37.6 percent of those surveyed by the government said they had no interest in a romantic partner, and most of them cited ‘bothersome’ as their biggest reason for shunning relationships. But virtual relationships are another matter entirely, and some Japanese men favor virtual companions like Rinko, Nene and Manaka of Konami’s Love Plus.”
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of the greatest horror movies of all time. However, Stephen King hates it. “Considered on its own, Kubrick’s film remains powerful and thrilling, the coldness deliberate and used to strong effect. But King’s reaction is understandable, even if it’s not a reaction audiences without his connection to the themes will share on general principle. He poured his heart out on the page and Kubrick ignored it. When the point is this personal, of course it will be frustrating when someone is praised for missing it.”
Some of my favorite movie-watching experiences have been at “midnight madness” screenings. Sadly, midnight movies aren’t what they used to be. “The midnight tradition has always had a corner dedicated to films that fall under the so-bad-they’re-good heading… But these days, if a new film has any hope of joining the ranks of midnight regulars, it most likely falls under this heading. Films like Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010) and The Room (2004) have attracted cults dedicated to their incompetence, which is compelling for reasons their creators could never have imagined. Irony has always been one mode for midnight appreciation; it’s now threatening to become the dominant one.”
Donald Trump and prosperity theology are a match made in… um… not Heaven. “The perception that God has blessed one individual more than others, that His favor is intrinsically rooted in one group over another, is a signature element of prosperity circles. Yet it is also a key element of Donald Trump’s campaign.”
Jim Stump explores why a proper understanding of creatio ex nihilo is a big deal for Christians. “The problem is that matter and usable energy are not eternal and uncreated. Eternality and uncreatedness have to inhere in a completely different kind of being. And that is the real work that the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo attempts to do. It is not just saying that there was no matter for God to work from, it is articulating how radically different (philosophers say ‘ontologically different’) God is from the kinds of things we find in the universe today.”
The World Health Organization recently announced that bacon causes cancer. But don’t worry, it’s more complicated than that. “The scientific evidence linking both processed meat and tobacco to certain types of cancer is strong. In that sense, both are carcinogens. But smoking increases your relative risk of lung cancer by 2,500 percent; eating two slices of bacon a day increases your relative risk for colorectal cancer by 18 percent. Given the frequency of colorectal cancer, that means your risk of getting colorectal cancer over your life goes from about 5 percent to 6 percent and, well, YBMMV. (Your bacon mileage may vary.)”
Believe it or not, but comic book characters can teach you how to live a better life. “The truth that Ms. Marvel presents is that we should live in such a way that our relationships with others hold the end in view.”
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.