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Birdman and the Search for Meaning

Each year I aim to see all of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. I fell a bit short of that goal this year, but I did see Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) at one of my favorite independent theaters in Denver.[1] In February, Birdman won the top prize at the Oscars in a race that was quite tight. As a philosopher specifically interested in existentialism, particularly as it is used to describe the philosophy that emphasizes the existence of the individual... Read More

Bleakness and Richness: Christopher Nolan on Human Nature

Editor’s Note: This essay contains discussion of plot details, including potential spoilers, from several Christopher Nolan films.   I remember the frenetic buzzing in my head on the way out of the midnight showing of The Dark Knight. I remember the way the theater seemed to heave after the final frame, all at once ringing with cheers, expletives, arguments, and the laughter of release. We went home and made all our friends see it. We watched the box office numbers climb like... Read More

Master Signifiers and the Survival of Evangelicalism: An Interview with David Fitch

In his latest book, “The End of Evangelicalism?”, pastor and professor David E. Fitch explores the possibility of evangelicalism surviving, in some form, throughout the 21st century.  Fitch utilizes the philosophy of Slavoj Žižek to deconstruct what many evangelicals hold most dear–inerrancy of Scripture, the decision for Christ, and belief that the U.S. is a Christian nation–to point toward a reconstructed evangelical church that faithfully embraces... Read More

Glenn Beck and the Order of Discourse

This essay is neither for nor against Glenn Beck. The philosopher Michel Foucault warns us to be suspicious of proper names because they tempt us to ascribe agency to the person instead of to the overall flow of discourse, knowledge, and power out of which the person emerges as an agent. I seek to provide a starting point for a fuller archaeological description of the Beck phenomenon. We must see Beck for who he really is: one voice in the ongoing battle of American identity... Read More

Criticism, Commitment, and Cultural Engagement: A Review of James K. A. Smith’s The Devil Reads Derrida

James K. A. Smith, The Devil Reads Derrida and Other Essays on the University, the Church, Politics, and the Arts. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009. 163 pages. $12.24 paperback (Amazon). Click here or on the image to purchase The Devil Reads Derrida and Other Essays from Amazon.com and help support The Other Journal. It has become all too common these days for discussions of North American evangelicalism to transpire solely in terms of disdain, so much so that the very word... Read More

Whose Rome? Which Catholicism? A Review of Beckwith’s Return to Rome

Francis J. Beckwith, Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic . Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2009. 144 pages. $10.19 paperback (Amazon). Click here or on the image to purchase Return to Rome from Amazon.com and help support The Other Journal. The zeitgeist is familiar enough: faced with powerful economic competitors, the empire is beginning to wane, retreating to a stance that might almost look like humility—its previous reach having stretched it thin... Read More

Race and Hospitality: Pursuing Racial Reconciliation through Derrida’s Understanding of Hospitality

With the historic 2008 presidential campaign in the United States, the question of race again came to the fore of the American consciousness.1 In this campaign, we saw a number of racially charged news stories–Bill Clinton likened Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson during the South Carolina primary, Rev. Jeremiah Wright riled the nation up with his controversial words, and many in the Republican Party wondered aloud if Barack Obama might be a Muslim or Arab, to name but a few.... Read More

Fiddling with the Melody: Illuminating von Balthasar’s Symphony of Truth

Truth is something of a lost art. Even a cursory reading of the primary texts of twentieth century philosophy will make us hesitant to talk about truth in any unqualified manner, and all the theology worth bothering about has listened very closely to these critiques. Here and there, however, we do find a theologian who is ready to guide us on a difficult journey, through these important critiques, to a place in which we can take up again the tools and instruments of the... Read More

My Body for You: Meditations on Sacrifice as a Theme in Contemporary Art

(Click on the image to open Bruce Herman’s art exhibit in a resizable browser.)   Sacrifice is a dirty word. It is smeared with the blood of a thousand brutal religions and the ritual mob violence of much human history. Another dirty word is martyr, which seems to suggest a suspicious air of superiority or sanctimoniousness. So why am I drawn to these words—sacrifice and martyrdom? I have an intuition that there is a connection between beauty and sacrifice, between... Read More

Listening on the Day of Silence: Khora and Holy Saturday

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since... Read More