Culture Matters Roundup 12.16.16

1. Remembering John Glenn

Last week, John Glenn passed away at the age of 95. Glenn was a pilot in the Marines, a businessman, a senator, an astronaut, and he was married to his high school sweetheart for 73 years. He made history in 1962 by becoming the first American to orbit the earth and again in 1998 by being the oldest person to “touch the stars.”

For most men and women, fame is fleeting and greatness is short-lived. For John Herschel Glenn Jr., it lasted a lifetime.

2. Early Thoughts on the Oscars

With 2016 coming to a close, The Atlantic's David Sims is beginning to speculate about the year’s Oscar nominees. The last few years have been controversial, with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite being used to lambast the lack of diversity in Oscar nominees. This led president Cheryl Boone Isaacs to rework the Academy’s membership process.

The New York Times also published “The Best Movies of 2016” according to their film critics: Manohla Dargis, A.O. Scott and Stephen Holden.

The simple fact is, the Oscars reward films about creativity and the Hollywood process—even when they’re out of sync with the world around them.

3. Creating Silence

Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming movie, Silence, is based on Shūsaku Endō’s novel by the same name. The story follows the life of Jesuit missionaries who undergo torture and struggle with apostasy while seeking to minister in Japan. In this interview, Scorsese discusses his faith and the film.

The vehicle that one takes towards faith can be very helpful. So, the church—the institution of the church, the sacraments—this all can be very helpful. But ultimately it has to be yourself, and you have to find it. You have to find that faith, or you have to find a relationship with Jesus with yourself really, because ultimately that’s the one you face.

4. The Dangers of “Fake News”

After a man was arrested last week in the midst of investigating false claims about a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., being involved in child sex slavery, Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote a letter in The Washington Post about the phrase “fake news.” Bailey’s complaint is that conservatives often use “fake news” to mean “liberal bias,” but there is a real danger in news that is legitimately false.

We are living in a post-truth time of fake news and misinformation, something that should be deeply troubling to people of faith who claim to seek truth in their everyday lives.

5. It’s Time We Think of Politics More Like Religion

Writing for Religion News Service, Arthur E. Farnsley II draws this comparison between religion and politics: Who we are comes first. We like to think elections are about ideas, reason and argumentation, when they are really about emotion, intuition and tribal affiliation.

As with religion, the choice between “facts” and “identity” in politics is a false one. We can argue about policies using evidence, just as religionists argue internally about theology and ethics. But we should also remember that political behavior, like religious behavior, begins with the way we understand our place in the universe.

6. Dylann Roof on Trial

Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, last year, is now on trial. This Vox article explains some of the unusual aspects of the trial, including that some of the survivors and family of the victims oppose the death penalty, even for Roof, and that the 22-year-old is considering representing himself in court.

Click here to read the full / original blog post.

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