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Into the Noise: A Theology of Film

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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)

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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

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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)

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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

Special: The Sundance Issue

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Recently, The Other Journal was invited to attend the Sundance Film Festival with Into the Noise, a nonprofit that travels to large festivals like Sundance to explore the cultural and spiritual stories that are being shared by our world’s most creative thinkers and creators. Their goal is to approach each festival communally, thoughtfully, and theologically, to venture into the... Read More

On Boyhood, Tralfamadore, and the Meaning of Life

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I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five   Tralfamadorians, of planet Tralfamadore, where flying saucers come from, cast a bleak vision of life outside time. These extraterrestrial... Read More

Sins of the Fathers: A Review of the Fight Church Documentary

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Sooner or later, every fighter learns the importance of respecting one’s opponent. In many cases, this lesson is learned on day one. You walk into a gym with shiny new boxing gloves and an unhealthy dose of self-confidence; you walk out with a shiner over your left eye and a newfound respect for other peoples’ skills. It doesn’t happen overnight, of course, but little by little,... Read More

The (Im)Possibilities of Willardian Theology: A Review of Gary Black’s The Theology of Dallas Willard

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Gary Black. The Theology of Dallas Willard: Discovering Protoevangelical Faith. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2013.   Gary Black’s The Theology of Dallas Willard is a rather ambitious work with a rather specific audience. The book is written to and for post-evangelicals—that is, for those who find themselves estranged just within or just without the circles of mainline evangelicalism[1]—and... Read More

What Will It Take to Stop Israel? Truth and Justice

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Why would the Palestinians be “valid negotiators” since they do not have a country? Why would they have a country, since theirs has been taken? They have never been given any choice than to surrender unconditionally. They have been offered only death. In the war that opposes them to Israel, Israel’s actions are considered legitimate reprisals (even if they appear disproportionate),... Read More

We Are All Magical Thinkers: A Review of Searching for Zion

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Emily Raboteau. Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013.   Near the end of her memoir, Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora, Emily Raboteau finds herself standing before the meditation pool by the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr. A small sign reminds people not to throw pennies into the... Read More