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Civil War Movie Review

Civil War Warning

Here’s a warning: Don't see this movie if you can’t stand violence or want clarity about who the good and bad guys would be in a potential civil war. Do see the movie if you can stand the disturbing violence and if you care not to let our country descend into civil war. In an appropriately disturbing way, the new movie is a wonderful warning - for two reasons. First, it is masterfully constructed and shot.  All the actors are effective.  The soundtrack is clear…

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Sexual Stirrings

A valued congregant once complained that I talk about sex too much.  I sympathize with her.  It’s a “touchy” topic.  It stirs our hurts and hopes, our anxieties and arousals, our loneliness and lovingness.  Is it the best of life, or is it what Andy Warhol quipped, “the biggest nothing there is”?  Fair warning: I won’t settle these stirrings.  Because I get a weekly report from Mailchimp on how few or many open and read this site, I know hardly any do.  It takes days…

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Is Barbie the Answer?

How we view our history and future can be skewed, or even screwed if we don't see either well. I promised my readers I would review the Oppenheimer and Barbie movies, and I will, but on the way, I read three books and had a bike crash, all six of which can lead us to lessons. I hope you enjoy this grand sweep of history. I hope it helps place our lives in a larger context leading to more hopeful, realistic visions. The featured image…

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Eden in Us in Avatar

Avatar takes us on an exciting ride that changes our sense of self, scale, and loyalty.  We soar up into tree branches and down into the roots as if we’re insects in the forest.  Who are we in the larger communities of life? We think of Pandora’s Box as releasing all the troubles of the world, but that’s a perversion of the original myth.  In the pre-patriarchal version, Pandora’s Box contained the goods of a natural world.   We were similarly tricked out of Eden.  We…

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New York Burning – a Review

Burned at the StakeNew York City, 1741 Worse than the Salem Witch Trials were the reactive trials and horrid executions of slaves in New York city in 1741.  Oh, how thoughts can be twisted to justify unjust cruelty! I got attracted to this topic and author when finishing up my talks on Thomas Jefferson.  Slavery was far more varied and widespread than I had known.  While reading an article by Jill Lepore, professor of History at Harvard, I was so attracted to her easily-readable, comma-laden…

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“Crazy for God” Review

When I’m sorry a book ends, I know it was good. I liked Frank Schaffer’s Crazy for God. His honesty, self-deprecating humor, gentle critiques of his Christian context, and scathing rebuke of those who co-opt Christianity for partisan divisiveness - all make me admire him.
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Academy Award Appreciation

Griping at that 88th Academy Awards obscured the magnificent spectacle it was.  The need to include more minorities, while important to admit and improve, shouldn't distract us from the reason to celebrate marvelous movies. That there is no proportional representation of blacks and other minorities is a problem in the midst of being admitted and addressed.  It is an industry, like America, too slow to include and praise all of us.  It lags and needs to be goaded, yes.  But fixing entrenched racism isn't its…

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The Well-Tuned Brain Reviewed

Doctor Peter Whybrow's 2015 book The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the Life Well Lived offers biological and psychological mechanisms for failing societies and successful ones.   Would that we read and heed. He opens quoting John Dewey's test of all political institutions and industrial arrangements: whether "they make to the all-around growth of every member of society."  Who asks such questions these days, and who has answers? He reminds us of our recent context.  Our population has doubled since the 1950's and our economy has increased…

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Reviewing Vern’s Sonnets: “Thanks for Noticing”

I wouldn't have read Thanks for Noticing - The Interpretation of Desire by the Reverend Doctor Vern Barnet were he not my friend from seminary.  Vern was a bold visionary, too much for the staid faculty at our University of Chicago seminary, Meadville/Lombard. His three-volume D. Min. thesis on The Void may have perplexed and overwhelmed them.  True to his brilliant mind and audacious quirks, he brings his encyclopedic knowledge of trans-cultural mytho-religious facts into his penchant to link the sacred and the sexual. I'm…

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Fury Fun Folly

George Miller’s Fury Road, fourth in his Mad Max series and thirty years after the original, is a stunning thrill ride of mostly real stunts against a background of preposterous illogic. It left me exhausted and charged up, but uncaring. I loved the stunts. Fights and crashes seemed realistic. The timing felt right. The use of 3-D and computer-generated tricks weren’t overplayed. Much of it seemed experimental; risky movie-making for an audience used to “anything goes,” when what goes here was real, or at least…

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