Media Diary (November 2021)

Some stuff I’ve experienced lately (and not necessarily only new releases):

Midnight Mass (TV): Totally captivated by this

The Shrink Next Door (TV): Loved the podcast, loving the show

The French Dispatch (Movie): Fantastic, though I’d watch Wes Anderson shoot paint drying

Hooked (Podcast): A harrowing story of bank robberies and OxyContin

Joe Pera Talks With You (TV): Still one of my favorites

Last Night in Soho (Movie): Great vibes, cool story

Operator (Podcast): A fascinating look at the ’90s phone sex industry

How To With John Wilson (TV): Back, and still so, so good

The Great (TV): Huzzah!

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Movie): Enjoyed this

One Year: 1995 (Podcast): Already off to a gripping start with a crazy Oklahoma City bombing story

The Beatles: Get Back (TV): Have only finished part one, but it’s fascinating to watch the tensions rise

The Wheel of Time (TV): Just started, but pretty solid so far, and didn’t expect there to be sweet beasts

Eternals (Movie): Was generally into it, but think I liked Shang-Chi a bit more

Dr. Brain (TV): Once he brain-synced with a dead cat, I was in

Slow Burn (Podcast): All about the L.A. riots this season, history sure does rhyme

Love Life (TV): A really great new season, better than the first one

The Curse of Von Dutch (TV): A wild ride

The Informant: Fear and Faith In The Heartland (Movie): This guy is insanely brave

This Is Critical (Podcast): Some fresh air after Trumpcast

Hawkeye (TV): Off to a great start!

Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road (Movie): Enjoyed the Comedians in Cars vibe

The World According To Jeff Goldblum (TV): Delightful as always

Doctor Who (TV): Not gonna lie, this new mini-season has been a bit rough

Tiger King (TV): More of a “check-in” than a new season, but I’ll take what I can get

The Elephant in The Pews

My wife and I (through our new church) have been taking a weekly Zoom class called “Be The Bridge,” which is an open forum for listening and sharing about the devastating effects of institutional racism, and how to be better equipped to have hard conversations about the topic with others.

It’s run by some great people, and aside from not having many personal anecdotes to share (as a white guy), overall it’s been pretty valuable, and the stories have been heartbreaking and powerful.

The problem, however, is with one of the core rules of the class: no politics allowed.

In a different era, this would have been completely reasonable, as politics should absolutely not have a place in the church. In 2021 though? It means that outreach attempts remain impotent as we dance around the gigantic elephant in the room:

Over the past several decades (with a massive acceleration over the past five years), the American evangelical church has tightly fused with the modern Republican party.

What effect does this have? It means that attempts to have good-faith conversations about any number of issues (institutional racism in this case) are met with closed ears and a dismissive “let’s not bring politics into it” stock answer. In other words, the message of the class sounds like foolishness for those unwilling to hear.

Am I saying that the church should try to convert people into Democrats? Of course not. Am I saying that the church should call out what modern Republicanism has become, by name, as racist, xenophobic and jingoistic? 100%.

Will membership go down? Almost certainly. Will this hurt financially as tithes stop coming in? Yeah, probably a great deal. But aside from being the right thing to do, it may (over time) even win back some of the younger people that have walked away, alienated by the church’s tacit embrace of Trumpism in recent years. Taking a strong moral stand is never easy, but it always pays off in the end.

Media Diary (October 2021)

Some stuff I’ve experienced lately (and not necessarily only new releases):

Squid Game (TV): Believe the hype, this is crazily dark and entertaining

No Time To Die (Movie): Big thumbs up, a great way to end the Daniel Craig era (and really the Bond era to date)

Succession (TV): Still impossibly good

Dune (Movie): Really enjoyed the new version, and also went back to re-watch the David Lynch original (which has its moments!)

Dopesick (TV): A compelling look at a tragic topic (with Michael Keaton elevating everything as usual)

The Many Saints of Newark (Movie): It was great to be back in this world for a short time

Curb Your Enthusiasm (TV): All hail the king

Four Hours at The Capitol (Movie): Legitimately terrifying

The Way Down: God, Greed and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin (TV): I’m obviously an absolute sucker for this kind of stuff

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Movie): Better than the first one (more over-the-top, plus you can’t go wrong with Woody)

Scenes From a Marriage (Movie): Loved the remake, and also enjoyed this gender-swapped original version

Love on The Spectrum (TV): I find this show incredibly charming

15 Minutes of Shame (Movie): A fascinating look at public shaming from someone who knows a bit about it

The Velvet Underground (Movie): Interesting, but didn’t blow my mind as some reviews had led me to expect

The Problem With Jon Stewart (TV): Still finding its legs, but covering important stuff

Dave Chappelle: The Closer (Movie): Obviously this is clouded in controversy, but you certainly can’t accuse him of shying away from public conversation

Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan (TV): What a ride

Introducing, Selma Blair (Movie): Deep respect to her for being this open about her condition