Facebook “Likes” Aren’t Enough, But Would a “Sympathize” Button Make it Worse?

Poke, Like...Sympathize?Facebook engineers discussed a previously developed “Sympathize” button to add to the ubiquitous “Like” button with which we’re all familiar. Isn’t it about time we have an option other than “Like” for maintaining our social relationships? For years Facebook’s Like button has performed much more for our online lives than its simple name implies. For example, I Like funny posts because I share in the humor. I may Like a friend's article because I agree with what's been … [Read more...]

“A Piece of the Continent”: Touch, Providence, and Human Connectedness

May 10 marked the season (and also the series) finale of Fox’s Touch, a show I've followed since its premiere last spring. Touch followed widower Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland) as he attempted to develop a relationship with his seemingly autistic son Jake (David Mazouz), who is non-verbal but can comprehend patterns in numerical sequences. The show’s first season was largely episodic: each week, Jake would relay a number to Martin, who somehow had to learn its importance in order to help a stran … [Read more...]

Once upon a Time and the Redemption of Fairy Tales

On Sunday, ABC aired the second-season finale of its popular series Once upon a Time, with a third season confirmed for Fall 2013.  Capitalizing on the recent vogue for updated fairy tale treatments, Once upon a Time is set in the quaint town of Storybrooke, Maine, a town with a curious secret: it is populated by residents of other fantastic realms who were transplanted into our world as part of a curse by the wicked queen, who rules the town as the ruthless Mayor Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla).  S … [Read more...]

Vikings Are People Too

On March 3, History Channel premiered its much-discussed miniseries The Bible, which proved to be thoroughly popular both on its original airdates and now on DVD.  But what intrigued me more was the show that followed The Bible’s premiere, History Channel’s first original fictional series, Vikings.  The series ended its inaugural season this Sunday but will return for a second season sometime in 2014.  The brainchild of former Tudors scribe Michael Hirst, Vikings follows the exploits of the semi- … [Read more...]

Melissa Harris-Perry Wants Your Kids! Or Does She?

The past couple weeks have seen a firestorm of controversy surrounding a 30-second television promo by MSNBC anchor host Melissa Harris-Perry.  Conservative commentators reacted sharply against what they perceived as the insinuations of the video that children are owned in some collectivist way by the community or, worse, by the government at large:Such concerns cannot be dismissed out of hand.  MSNBC, with its slogan of “Lean Forward,” has been consistently positioning itself in recent m … [Read more...]

Philosophers for Hire? “Marketable” Majors and the Question of Christian Vocation

When people joke (usually good-naturedly) about the perceived irrelevance of English majors (or other liberal arts degrees) in the current national and global economy, I smile and laugh along, though I have to admit that such considerations have always seemed rather distant.  I graduated as an English major at a small Christian college in 2001, so just before the various recessions of the past decade or so started kicking in.  No one in my memory ever counseled me to choose a more “marketable” de … [Read more...]

“This Is the Time of Loves”: Innovative Christian Poets in the Easter Season

The most recent issue of Christianity Today includes a delightful little appreciation by Christopher Benson for George Herbert’s classic poem “Easter Wings.”  As Benson notes, Herbert was a seventeenth-century priest in the Church of England who wrote poems throughout his life, though they did not see publication until his friend (religious reformer Nicholas Ferrar) saw to the posthumous release of the works in a 1633 volume entitled The Temple.  “Easter Wings” is an example of a pattern poem, a … [Read more...]

“Call the Midwife” Celebrates Life from Beginning to End

It is perhaps appropriate that American PBS stations should be premiering the second season of the British drama Call the Midwife on Easter Sunday.  As the commemoration of Christ’s resurrections, Easter carries with it connotations of the preciousness of life—embodied life—consonant with the beginning of the spring season.  And Call the Midwife is a show deeply interested in the entire sweep of human life.Call the Midwife quickly became a hit in England, rivaling Downton Abbey in populari … [Read more...]

Saint Nicholas Strikes Back: Catholic Memes and Secularized Feast Days

I went to the kind of small Christian college that still required chapel attendance, and one morning, scheduled in the midst of all the pastors and inspirational or motivational speakers, we had a presenter who came dressed as Saint Patrick.  He did nothing but recite Patrick’s autobiographical Confessio.  He never broke character, even using his staff to prod awake a student who had fallen asleep in the first row.  While some of my fellow student may have found the exercise tedious, I was quite … [Read more...]

Does History Channel’s The Bible Live up to Its Promise?

Two competing emotions welled up inside me when I first learned that the History Channel would be making a ten-hour miniseries that followed the storyline of the Bible from Genesis to Jesus: hope and fear.  The Bible, as it is straightforwardly called, is the brainchild of Touched by an Angel alum Roma Downey and her husband, producer Mark Burnett.  Each episode follows several events from the biblical narrative in basically sequential order, culminating in the life of Jesus Christ and the f … [Read more...]