The Grand Budapest Hotel

grand budapest

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" begins with a telescoping narrative device: a young girl—a poor, but kind man’s Lena Dunham—walks through a cemetery to pay tribute to the memory of an author who is buried there.  She is dressed in a pink Girl Scout uniform of sorts and carrying a copy of a book entitled The Grand Budapest Hotel which has a stencil drawing of the hotel façade on the cover, also in pink.  Think about the color pink.  Think of all the words it evokes: girlish, pretty, innocent, naïve, sw … [Read more...]

Omnivory and Christianity

I am a troubled omnivore. Or more precisely: I am a troubled, Christian omnivore. I eat meat, but I do not do so without caution and without doubts; and it is my Christianity that is responsible for much of this caution and many of these doubts.I find the relationship between the Christian and food a very complicated one. On the one hand, the Christian is uniquely situated to recognize the sacramentality of the eating act (and with it, to take his food with a heaping portion of delight and … [Read more...]

The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

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 Paul Bogard’s The End of Night has as much to say about the night sky as it does about the people who live under it. In his search for the last of our nation’s natural darkness, Bogard makes room for everyone from the president of the unlikely Las Vegas Astronomical Society to a woman who, visiting a dark rural area for the first time, exclaimed, “What are all those white dots in the sky?”The sorry truth is that most of us are scarcely more aware of the night. Light pollution, the p … [Read more...]

Like a Child

As the oldest of seven kids, I’ve done my fair share of wiping dirty faces, checking for closet monsters, and speculating as to why the sky is blue. But I also grew up in a church that encouraged “child-like faith.” In that church, this phrase was often shorthand for, “We don’t have answers for this, but having questions and worrying about it shows a lack of faith.” Sometimes “this” was a problem the Church has struggled with for ages, such as the problem of suffering, but sometimes it referred t … [Read more...]

Aronofsky’s Noah

NOAH

 In the latest issue of Fare Forward, Andy Quinn argues that “meta-analysis,” our way of obsessing about the terms of a debate rather than the issues at stake, is ruining intellectual discourse (Issue 7, “Everyone’s a Critic”). I think the initial reactions to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah are a prime example. On one side, there is the predictable outrage from fundamentalists over the artistic license taken with the Bible story. On the other side, there is the equally predictable preening from … [Read more...]

This Is What We Do

A few years ago, Chrysler debuted a slick commercial called “Imported from Detroit,” featuring Eminem cruising past relics of the city’s past industrial and civic glory. The voice-over, backed by the thumping guitar riff of “Lose Yourself,” praises Detroit’s gritty resilience and the unexpected luxury of Chryslers rolling out of its factories. Eminem stops his car under the marquee of a theater. He strides down its aisle toward a robed choir, turning to the close-up camera on stage with the tagli … [Read more...]

Virtue in TV

“Everybody lies.”  The FOX drama House sustained eight seasons of medical mysteries on this cynical insight alone.  And the more righteous the liars were, the more satisfying (for Dr. House, and often for the viewer) were their falls.  A classic episode pitted a rambunctious “faith healer” against the atheist misanthrope, but when the root of the young man’s illness is revealed to be the sexually-transmitted herpes virus, the doctor gets the last laugh.Law & Order: SVU is still chugging a … [Read more...]


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