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Failure: A Theological Account


Verona: Burt, are we fuckups? Burt: No! What do you mean? Verona: I mean, we’re thirty-four— Burt: I’m thirty-three. Verona: —and we don’t even have this basic stuff figured out. Burt: Basic, like how? Verona: Basic, like how to live. Burt: We’re not fuckups. Verona: We have a cardboard window. Burt [Looks at window]: We’re not fuckups. Verona [Whispers]:... Read More

Shadow Feminism as Salvation: Perpetua and Queer Negativity


In the year 203 CE, Viba Perpetua and her friends were put to death in Carthage for refusing to renounce their Christian identity.  While imprisoned awaiting her execution, she keeps a journal detailing multiple visits from her father and appearances before state prosecutors.  Distraught with concern for his daughter, Perpetua’s father pleads with her to deny being a Christian... Read More

Who Can Forget? Halberstam’s Critique of Memory in Ferguson


Judith Halberstam’s Queer Art of Failure has been a constant companion as I try to make sense out of the senselessness of contemporary headlines.[1] Halberstam’s masterful book gives us several important conceptual tools to engage the injustices we are continually faced with, as well as the courage to avoid the fear of failure. For this, many (myself included) are deeply indebted... Read More

Virtue with No After? On Failure and Formation


Training of any kind . . . is precisely about staying in well-lit territories and knowing exactly which way to go before you set out. Like many others before me, I propose that instead the goal is to lose one’s way. —Judith Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure   The question about the good always finds us already  in an irreversible situation. We are living. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer,... Read More

Failing to Get It: Feminist Chickens, a Hebrew Asparagus, and a Halberstamian Political Theology

In The Queer Art of Failure Jack Halberstam asks us “to be underachievers, to fall short, to get distracted, to take a detour, to find a limit, to lose our way, to avoid mastery, and with Walter Benjamin, to recognize that ‘empathy with the victor invariably benefits the rulers.’”[1] To empathize with the loser is a call familiar to theologians who understand God to be on... Read More

Special Issue: Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure

At critical moments in the history of Christianity, it is the outsiders, rather than people of faith and the theologians who study that faith, who seem best equipped to tell us the truth about who we are. By all indications, Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure is not directly interested in religion, theology, or  Christianity. And yet, so much of Halberstam’s work resonates... Read More

Into the Noise: A Theology of Film


Since January 1, 2009, I have watched 607 movies. I know because I keep track. I log every one, the good ones and the lousy ones, in a Google Doc along with some notes. I do this because I think movies matter, both to me and to those around me. Beyond providing entertainment or escape, movies matter in my life. They provide a place of revelation, disruption, and personal transformation.... Read More

Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration (or Five Days at Sundance)


And when the cynic reminds us that people fall off crags, get lost after sunset, and are drowned by waves and eaten by lions; when the cynic cautions that faces get old and lined and forms get pudgy and sick—then we Christians do not declare that it was all a mistake. We do not avail ourselves of Plato’s safety hatch and say that the real world is not a thing of space, time,... Read More

The Cinematic Experience as Experiment: Reflection on The Stanford Prison Experiment


This film is hell to sit through. In dramatizing the now infamous psychological experiment of 1973, Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s The Stanford Prison Experiment does a number on its viewers. It forces us into an associative relationship with the events it depicts, with the participants of the study on screen, and with the system that shapes the participants of that study. And yet the... Read More

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Please Say No)


Horror films have mastered the formula of fright. They draw the viewer into a world that looks and feels somewhat familiar: we see houses that look like our houses, we see people that look like us. Yet, in spite of the familiar, we know. We know the house is not empty. We anticipate the stranger in the dark. The audience in the theater acts as one: muscles contracting, eyes squinting,... Read More