The faithful soul of Jackie Robinson

Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey knew that the first black player in major league baseball was going to go through hell.That's why the cigar-chomping, Bible-thumping Rickey set out to find a man who would keep believing -- when facing bitter, scathing racial hatred -- that the powers of heaven were on his side. As baseball writers have often noted, Rickey needed someone who could turn the other cheek, as well as turn a double play.In writer-director Brian Helgeland's new … [Read more...]

Yet another preying Presbyterian?

Once again, shocked onlookers painted from familiar palettes as they described the latest young man to march into the public square with his guns blazing.The alleged killer was a moody, quiet loner who excelled at school. He was a normal guy who loved movies and super-hero tales, only he cheered for the villains. When seen in bars, he was usually sitting alone.Journalists also quoted people who knew the family and said that James Holmes was once, as The Los Angeles Times noted, "heavily … [Read more...]

Golf as religion, spiritual discipline

If golf is a religion, then the smell of freshly mown Bermuda grass is the incense that drifts through its rituals.For golfers this is the smell of "eternal hope" that they can start over, according to the stressed-out young pro whose story drives the novel "Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days in Utopia," by sports psychologist David Cook."Each time a golfer steps to the first tee surrounded by this tantalizing fragrance he stands at even par," muses Luke Chisholm. "We all own par on the first … [Read more...]

From Denver to the Main Line

Call it the "Rocky Mountain Time Zone syndrome."Journalists in the region know that it's scandalously rare for news events and trends that break in the Rocky Mountain West to gain traction in the elite news outlets of the urban Northeast and the West Coast.But the massacre at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 was different. The national press came to Littleton, Colo., and stayed -- forced to wrestle with ancient questions of good and evil, as framed in the unfathomable acts of … [Read more...]

Harry Potter wars forever?

The Harry Potter culture warriors have surged into action one last time, adding their familiar notes of discord to the fanfares greeting the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.""It's no secret that the Harry Potter storyline about both good and evil wizards has fueled global teenage increase in Wicca and the occult," according to an urgent Christian Newswire press release. "Stephanie Meyer's The Twilight Saga about good and evil vampires has done the same thing for … [Read more...]

Angels and Damon (and free will)

When searching for big ideas, a Hollywood screenwriter can't dig any deeper than "The Epic of Gilgamesh."This collection of Sumerian legends is at least 4,000 years old and is among the world's earliest known stories. Yet this Urak king wrestles with questions that haunt heroes today. Am I free? Am I doomed? Can I fight my fate?At a key moment, the "woman of the vine" tells the king: "You will never find that life for which you are looking. When the gods created man they allotted to him … [Read more...]

Patricia Neal and her angels

After her destructive affairs with married men, after the death of her first child, after an accident left her infant son brain-damaged, after the near-fatal strokes that struck months after her 1964 Oscar win for "Hud," actress Patricia Neal faced yet another personal crisis that left her on the verge of collapse.While her marriage to British writer Roald Dahl, the author of children's classics such as "James and Giant Peach," had long been troubled, Neal was shattered when she learned he was … [Read more...]

God, movies and cancer

Hollywood bean counters have started calling them "God films."The typical faith-based indie has a tiny budget and most of the actors are amateurs or second stringers from television. It doesn't take much money to promote one because churches are eager to hold pre-release screenings that fire up clergy and volunteers to spread the word -- on foot and online.Southern Baptist entrepreneurs in Georgia made the pro-marriage drama "Fireproof" for $500,000 and it grossed $40 million at the box … [Read more...]


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