Crashing: Christian in the wild

HBO's new series "Crashing" finished its first season on Sunday. As with many of the network's other comedies, I highly enjoyed it. The combination of star/creator Pete Holmes and executive producer Judd Apatow made this look into the stressful world of stand-up comedy heartfelt, awkward and funny, often in the same beat. But it's the show's spiritual side that made it resonate."Crashing" follows Holmes (playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself) as he tries to make a break in New … [Read more...]

“Beauty and the Beast” and the backfiring of outrage

So, my piece a few weeks back on the outrage over Disney's choice to include an "explicitly gay" moment in its remake of "Beauty and the Beast" caused quite a stir. As of this writing, there are 195 comments and it's one of my most-read pieces here at Patheos. I'm thankful to everyone who shared, read and commented.The film is out now (you can read my review here), and the controversy doesn't seem to have hurt its performance at the box office one bit; the film grossed a record $170 million t … [Read more...]

Goodbye, Family Christian Stores

This week, it was announced that Family Christian Stores — one of the world's largest Christian retailers — will close all 240 of its stores. This isn't really shocking; Family Christian had gone through bankruptcy a few years back. But it will have an impact; more than 3,000 employees are going to lose their jobs as the stores shutter and Christian culture loses one of its largest and most diverse suppliers of books, music and trinkets.Granted, this is just the nature of the beast these days … [Read more...]

The Story of God: Heaven, hell, hope and justice

Season two of "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on the National Geographic Channel. Once again, I'm writing about it here each week from a Christian perspective as a preview. This post is about episode two, "Heaven and Hell."Years back, I was out to dinner with a friend when we began talking religion. She was agnostic and I was in the middle of a pretty ugly bout of cage-stage Calvinism. She kept trying to change the subject, and I kept bringing i … [Read more...]

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The Story of God: Chosen

Season two of "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman" debuts Monday, Jan. 16, at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Central) on the National Geographic Channel. Once again, I'll be writing about it here each week from a Christian perspective as a preview. The first episode of the season deals with "The Chosen One." Given its topic — chosen people in various religions — I initially assumed that this first episode would deal with the central figures of various faiths. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha. But it takes a differ … [Read more...]

Happy Christmas Eve

Ever since I was a child, Christmas Eve has meant more to me than Christmas Day.As a child, it was because Christmas Eve was when we would load up the car, go to my grandparents and open gifts with my cousins. It was that night — and the lead into Christmas morning — that embodied the holiday for me the most. Treats on the counter. One grandfather excitedly playing Santa. The other calmly reading Luke’s account of the Christmas story. A fire roaring in the fireplace. Playing with my cousins i … [Read more...]

Losing my evangelical home

I promise we'll get back to movies shortly. Given the events of this week, I wanted to post this, originally from my Facebook account. It has been edited for length.I am surprised how angry and depressed I felt seeing the election results. To think that Donald Trump is the next President of the United States still seems unreal. I have no clue how a man with such a short fuse and no political experience will govern. I’m terrified.Tuesday afternoon, I posted on Facebook that people s … [Read more...]

Elections, conscience and the will of God

 I hope my usual readers who come to this site looking for thoughts on film, television and other entertainment will indulge one last political post. Believe me, I can't wait to get back to writing about pop culture and movies, and I hope to do that shortly. But this is a crucial time for our country and for the Church. And as a Christian with a platform, I feel it is necessary to put into words what God has laid on my heart. It's no surprise that I've been thinking a lot lately … [Read more...]

Trump, the image of God, and righteous anger

**Yes, I know this is an entertainment blog. But there are matters that transcend entertainment and as a writer who also focuses on faith, I feel I have a responsibility to address that. ** I thought this weekend's release of Donald Trump's repugnant sexual comments would be the straw that broke the camel's back when it came to Christians' support of the Republican presidential candidate. After more than a year of supporting or only lightly chiding his crude remarks about Mexicans, Muslims a … [Read more...]

Jesus VR, the Ark Encounter and fetishizing authenticity

Next month, visitors to the Venice Film Festival will have the opportunity to view the life of Christ like never before: in 360 degree virtual reality, just as God intended."Jesus VR" is a virtual reality film depicting the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in 360°, crystal-clear video and sound. The 90-minute film will be available just in time for Christmas — for those wealthy enough to own a VR system — but a 40-minute clip will be available to film festival audiences in September. The … [Read more...]