Aronofsky’s Noah Comes to Life

Thanks to (Patheos’ own) Joseph Susanka for alerting me to the available pages of a graphic novel version of the forthcoming Darren Aronofsky project on Noah.  Aronofsky has done this sort of thing before, ie overseeing a graphic novel as part of the long pre-production process of a film. It’s both storyboarding on steroids and its own unique artistic endeavor. The Noah graphic novel is called Noe and is so far only available in Europe. Slashfilm has all the goods, including… Read more

The Redemption of General Butt Naked: or, Why South Park got it Right

A hulking man lumbers through a Ghanaian refugee camp, full of Liberians who have fled the internecine war that has ravaged their home, looking for victims. He finds a woman and her daughter, as if waiting, and stops. He removes his hat and demands of the woman, Lovetta, “Tell me what happened.” His massive shoulders and thighs portend an intense physicality, but his gut betrays the passage of time. Whatever this man was, something has changed, but Lovetta and her… Read more

George Clooney, the godless politician

I begin today with a REELigion quiz.  And for the impatient, worry not: it’s only one question long. Of the 535 men and women who are currently members of Congress, how many are professed atheists? While you ponder your answer, I’ll hum a verse from the atheists’ anthem, “There Is No God,” by the Boston-based nineties rock band Extreme, who can be forgiven for this song only because they also gave us “More than Words.” Aw hell.  Let’s just listen… Read more

“Finding your Bliss” in Joseph Campbell

I sometimes teach a class called “Modern Mythology” which is (let’s be honest here) just an excuse to introduce kids to Joseph Campbell’s monomyth by showing them the original Star Wars Trilogy. I spend nearly a month in class covering the basics of the Campbellian “Hero’s Journey,” reading texts from around the world and getting students to identify how these tales match (or don’t match) Campbell’s outline. By the time we get to Star Wars, the students are able to… Read more

Hello, I Love You…Won’t You Tell Me Your Name

Last week I had the good fortune to join a panel discussion on Bertolt Brecht’s very strange drama, The Good Person of Szechuan. The folks in the theater department at my college are producing the play this fall, and they invited faculty from various disciplines to comment, and though I had never read this work, I was pleased to be invited. Turns out, this is a remarkable piece of literature. In brief, for those of you who might not be… Read more

Missing Marpa

I’ve uncharacteristically been spending a lot of time on YouTube lately (no, really, I can stop anytime!) as research for a course I’m teaching on art and philosophy, looking for evidence of religious art as functional. What I’ve been hearing typically from my students has been one of two ideas about what art is: either, art is decidedly non-functional and exists in some kind of hermetically sealed box containing the opaque, indecipherable emotions of the artist; or, everything is art,… Read more

Roman Polanski and “the dead certainty of doubt”

The phrase in quotes comes from Jim Emerson, the Chicago Sun-Times film critic and blogger at (the wonderful) Scanners. He’s writing in the comments section of Press Play’s video essay on Roman Polanski, entitled “Polanski’s God.” (The essay is the first of a new series on Polanski.) Emerson is responding to one of the main claims of the essay, which is that for a filmmaker very concerned with the subject of evil (and one whose life has been attended by… Read more

Guess who is directing the new Noah movie?

Without Googling, try to guess which well known filmmaker said the following: Since I was a kid, I have been moved and inspired by the story of Noah and his family’s journey. The imaginations of countless generations have sparked to this epic story of faith. It’s my hope that I can present a window into Noah’s passion and perseverance for the silver screen. A new Noah movie is coming to a theater near you — one that already sounds leaps… Read more

“Moneyball” and Religion, or Finding God in Brad Pitt’s Triceps

It has become a truism—especially in religious studies classes—to note that baseball is like religion.  And when I teach RN 101 courses, I bore myself as I demonstrate the similarities between the ballpark and the cathedral.  At a baseball game—as in church—we sing hymns together, we stand up in unison, we pray, we eat bread, we drink wine (or beer), and we don’t leave until after Communion … or after the seventh inning if our team is down by more… Read more

The Kuleshov Effect and The Godfather

Last week in my film studies class, I showed portions of The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing, including a brief overview of montage theory and a recreation of the so-called Kuleshov Effect.  Lev Kuleshov was a Russian filmmaker in the 1910’s and 20’s who created an incredibly short but incredibly influential piece of film.  In it, Kuleshov cut from a shot of a well-known actor (Ivan Mozzhukhin) to a bowl of soup.  He cut again back to a… Read more