Weekend Reads: Haruki Murakami, Afrofuturism, Broadchurch, Billy Graham & Johnny Cash & more

Also: Sin and the internet, Netflix’s Dark, Amazon, the Babylon Bee, the Book of Jonah, abortion and politics, and Christian martyr fantasies.
Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami

Xi Chen explains why he keeps reading Haruki Murakami’s stories. ​“In modern society, our ​‘gains’ (success, food, sex) are increasingly superficial, and fail to compensate for the heaviness of personal loss. What Murakami does is restore the magic, the childhood wonder, the almost spiritual importance of everyday activities.”

Gracy Olmstead argues that we can’t escape our own sinful natures on the internet. ​“We love the internet because it enables us to craft the world we want, instead of forcing us to confront the world as it is. We can doctor our Instagram selfies, visit news sites that foster our less temperate and virtuous passions, follow the Facebook users who will puff up our self-esteem, dabble in the darker delights of the internet — all without ever asking ourselves whether it’s ​‘right’ or ​‘wrong.’”

Netflix's Dark

Netflix’s Dark takes a different approach to time travel. ​“In Dark, the events of 2019 cause events in 1986 to occur, which by the time the story closes the loop, we learn that 1986 created the 2019 we were introduced to in the first place, and 1953 created 1986 before that. Nothing has been changed, no matter the actions of any of the characters because it can’t be changed. It already is what caused the present to even BE the present. It’s set and decided, and doesn’t matter how many kids Ulrich tries to kill with a big old rock.” You can read my thoughts on Darks first season here.

Voxs Hope Reese sat down with John Jennings about Afrofuturism. ​“Afrofuturism, to me, is looking to the past, trying to examine it, and try to deal with an unresolved task around race and identity in this country, in the diaspora. It’s also looking to the future. Both of these sides are wrestling. Black Panther is dealing with the now. You can say Afrofuturism is science fiction, but the setting of Black Panther is current day. It’s a parallel universe of: What if slavery didn’t happen?

Broadchurch

Renae and I finally got around to watching Broadchurch, and it was brilliant. Often hard to watch, we found it engrossing and very well-made. Kevin McLenithan writes about the series’ devastating truths. ​“This is how Broadchurch gets you. It does what most good mystery stories do: the questions are answered, the truth is revealed, the puzzle is solved. Then it steps away from the victory to observe the sundered relationships and betrayed trust that constitute the mystery’s fallout. Broadchurch gives us what we want, then says, ​‘There. Are you happy now?’”

And Wendy Alsup considers the themes in Broadchurchs third season. ​“Much time could be spent exploring the themes of sexual assault, pornography, and rape culture from this season. But though the theme of sexual assault dominated the story line of season 3, it was the longer story of Danny Latimer’s murder and its effects on his family that lingered with me after the season ended.”

Amazon

Amazon could do a lot more to crack down on counterfeit sellers. “[W]hen Chinese counterfeiters tool up and make copies of your product, send that inventory to Amazon, then overtake the real product’s buy box by auto-lowering the price — it’s a real problem. Customers are unknowingly buying crap versions of the product, while both Amazon and the scammers are profiting, and the reputation you’ve built goes down the toilet.”

The Babylon Bees new ​“TL;DR Edition” makes reading the Bible a whole lot easier. “[W]e at The Babylon Bee have studied our official company Scofield Reference Bible for the past 80 years in order to distill each of the 66 books down to a bite-sized snippet even you can understand. We reduced every book to a single, memorable line, so you don’t have to read a word of it for yourself.” It’s all good, but their description of Job (“Hebrew country music song”) is particularly brilliant.

Johnny Cash & Billy Graham

Christianity Today wrote about Billy Graham’s long friendship with Johnny Cash. ​“Billy Graham and Johnny Cash were the best of friends, mutual confessors, and fishing buddies. Their wives, Ruth Bell and June Carter, were prayer partners. The two men could sit for hours in the same room without saying a word — Billy working on a book and Johnny on his songs.”

Robert Rackley finds new relevance in the biblical story of Jonah. “[M]ost of the ​‘Jonah and the whale’ stories for younger children omit the the fourth and final chapter of the book completely. If you can put aside the whole guy getting swallowed by a big fish and having a change of heart thing, the last chapter is where the book of Jonah really gets interesting.”

Fetus

Leslie Loftis wants to find a new approach to the abortion debate in America. ​“The current pro-choice/pro-life debate pits the rights of the mother against rights of the child, as if a mother and child are easily distinguishable beings during gestation. Many on the pro-choice side tend to dismiss the humanity of the child while many on the pro-life side seem to muster little compassion for women considering an abortion. But abortion harms them both. Efforts to reduce the prevalence of the procedure should focus just as much on eliminating why women feel the need for the procedure as they do on the results of the procedure.”

Alissa Wilkinson explains the the martyrdom fantasy that arose in many Christian teens following Columbine. “[I]f you were a Christian teenager in 1999, the word ​‘Columbine’ doesn’t just make you remember feeling suddenly unsafe in places you thought were okay. It’s synonymous with both a whole cottage industry that sprang up around the shooting, a raft of commercial products that retold its stories… and an ethos of martyrdom that seems in retrospect to have summed up what it was to be a youth-group kid at the turn of the last century.”