What I Read the Week of September 23

“Oscar-O-Meter: The A.V. Club‘s 2012 fall prestige-movie guide” by Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson & Scott Tobias, A.V. Club — Mostly, this serves as a fairly comprehensive overview of the fall movie schedule. It just so happens that I’m more excited about this fall, when it comes to movies, than any season I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. Also, the A.V. Club, as you can see by the title, is interested in handicapping the Oscar race using well-established criteria. Reading something like this elucidates the shades of difference between how good a movie is likely to be and how likely that movie is to win an Oscar. Yes, I remain interested in how the Oscars turn out; I think it’s fun no matter who wins.

“The Last Days of Football?” by Steve Coll, The New Yorker — This article provides an easy-to-understand overview of the labor dispute and lockout of the NFL referees. The author takes that drawn-out process and the accompanying troubles of the “replacement” refs as a launching-point to pose questions about American football’s future as a business. He also discusses the violence of the game and its lack of popularity outside the U.S. Possible solutions are only briefly mentioned, but the questions are interesting.

“What’s the Difference Between Life and Death?” by Druin Burch, Slate — I’ve read some things before about the interesting subject of how we define death, medically, and how that definition has changed. It seems the more we learn, the thornier the issue becomes. Of course, there are ethical questions involved, and this article explores some of them, particularly with regard to organ transplants. Because this article is about death and approaches it from a medical, as well as moral, standpoint, parts of it are probably not for the squeamish. I found the brief history of the study of death especially informative.

“The Biggitude of God” by Joel Schreurs, Think Christian — This article, I think, is a great example of how a responsible Christian needs to relate to science — outside of the narrative that science and religion are at war. The more we discover about the size and complexity of the universe, the more we can appreciate the majesty of God’s creative act, and thus learn more about God’s character. Now, Schreurs ultimately isn’t really writing about science; he just uses a recent estimation of the number of stars in the universe to talk about the heart of God and the nature of grace. Often, the Think Christian formula seems to be “Here is something that happened recently” followed by “…and that got me thinking about something theological or spiritual that’s related to the story by some analogy.” That transition sometimes feels forced, but I love it here. Both the science and the theology are an invitation to awe.

“To Sow or to Reap: Four Theses on Social Conservatism (#1)” by Matthew Lee Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy — The other three theses are worth reading as well, but they seem to boil down to social conservatives needing to show more confidence in their ideas. This first part raises a somewhat different issue, that of the bigger strategy. Anderson suggests social conservatives should think more about participating culturally rather than just politically (politics is only one small part of culture). The process of establishing a foothold in culture is much slower than the process of winning an election or getting a law passed, but the results will be much longer-lasting as well.

“A Small Crease” by Kara VanderBijl, This Recording — Madeleine L’Engle and her book A Wrinkle in Time have been called to my attention by a number of sources recently. I see this as incontrovertible evidence that I need to read this book that I’ve somehow never read (I could go off on a tangent about how I spent too much time as a child watching TV, but what’s there to say?). But first I greatly enjoyed this essay about the book and what it means, written by someone I know! (I need to find and share more such things, seeing as I do know some writers.)

“Shakespeare: God’s Will” by A.G. Harmon, Good Letters (Patheos blog) — I’m always ready for a good Shakespeare appreciation. Harmon talks a bit about Coriolanus, certainly one of the lesser-known plays. He then briefly compares the play with Hamlet. This isn’t a particularly deep exploration of themes, but it’s a fun read, with Harmon imitating Shakespearean language. And, like a few other articles I’ve mentioned in this post, the point seems to be more about raising intriguing questions and making the reader go off and think about them for awhile.

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