If you, like me, scroll down the list of recent pieces in this column and feel like (save for Wishbone) there’s a lot of hellfire and end-of-the-world cropping up in my titles—well, you’re right. I get emails at least weekly about upcoming movies that deal with the Rapture or the tribulation or other end-of-the-world judgments (just got another today, in fact), and of course there’s the Nic Cage Left Behind reboot in two months.
Actually, I haven’t seen much of anything made recently that isn’t about the apocalypse: an impending one, or the world right after one. Last week, I saw Snowpiercer, which is about a train-bound post-apocalyptic dystopia. I also saw the upcoming The Congress, a bizarre film about a futuristic dystopia in which people ignore their circumstances by drugging up, in which reality has been replaced by something else entirely, in which people have brought their own apocalypse down on their own heads.
Of course, I’m watching The Leftovers, which has already experienced its apocalypse or is waiting for it, depending on how you read it. And there’s tons more on TV and the movies: especially obvious ones, like The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games. I wrote about a bunch last summer. Everyone thinks of these as apocalyptic.
But there are less obvious ones, too.
This month, a few corners of the Internet have gotten interested in whether or not literature and popular culture reflect politically conservative positions, and what should be done about it.
In National Review on July 9, Jonah Goldberg suggested that American popular culture, contrary to popular assumption, is essentially conservative. Two days earlier, on the cover of National Review, the conservative book editor Adam Bellow suggested that what culture (and, specifically, literature) needs is more conservative creators and more conservative funders. Alyssa Rosenberg responded in the Washington Post, suggesting (as “friendly opposition”) that conservatives run the risk of creating terrible art if their first step forward is ideology, not craft; Micah Mattix more or less agreed in his take in The American Conservative.
Personally, I don’t have much of a dog in the politics-and-culture fight. But I got interested because this all sounded pretty familiar. As lore has it, Hollywood needs to be infiltrated by people of faith who can make sure that “our values” are being reflected on screen.
Well, I’ve just come from a screening of Calvary, the most “Christian” film I’ve seen in as long as I can remember. I don’t think it will be winning any awards from the Christian world (although I guarantee it will show up on my end-of-year list here at Christianity Today, and a few others, too). It has bad words, and it takes place in a universe very like ours—that is, in one where people are suffering the ugly aftereffects (and sometime during-effects) of their very serious sins against one another.
I put the word “Christian” in quotes there, though.
Like little pre-dusk backyard stars.
Muddled mint from the garden with lime and sugar. Poured in rum. Brought in a jar to a party with club soda. Was a hit. Finishing the dregs in the jar myself. #rooftopmojitos
Ran, took yoga, and went to dance in the last two days, which means my feet are in characteristically sore. But who needs Advil when God made wine, huh?
Can I tell you a secret?
An embarrassing amount of what I know about classic literature comes from a kids’ TV show called Wishbone.
You might remember the show. It aired on PBS in the 1990s and introduced young viewers (around middle school age) to the plots of great books. Each episode followed a familiar pattern: Wishbone—a Jack Russell terrier with, as the theme song put it, a “big imagination”—and his family encountered some kind of normal real-life situation to which the young viewer could relate. Maybe they went on a picnic, or worked on a science fair project, or encountered a moral dilemma and had to make a good decision.