Recent bylines, the Faith and Film Festival and thoughts on Advent
Day-After-Christmas Greetings from Kansas City! Last year at this time the weather was a freakish 70 degrees. This year we got a dusting of snow, and the temperatures are in the negative numbers. Midwest weather! It’s weird!
Before diving into updates on bylines and book writing, I’m putting in a quick plug for the Faith and Film Festival, an annual event put on by Concordia Seminary St. Louis. I’ll be there for the third time this year, leading a discussion on one of my favorite movies, The Night of the Hunter (part of the All Saints Day chapter of Silver Screen Liturgy) and joining a panel on Jordan Peele’s Us. Also returning: my friend, filmmaker and editor Josh Salzberg (Welcome to Me, Ass Backwards and the forthcoming The Performance), who’ll discuss the art of film editing and as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the project on which he got his start. Registration is open until Jan. 12, so get in while you can!
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My December writing:
Stream Queens: 2022’s cinematic highlights (The Pitch)
Spirituality of the Multiverse (Sojourners)
The Great Performances of 2022 (rogerebert.com)
If you read my November newsletter, you may recall I was a little anxious going in to December, given that it was a pretty heavy workload content-wise. I’m pleased to say that things are (mostly) going really well, thanks to an existing outline from the article I’m adapting and inspiration from my church’s Advent sermon series. I’m particularly thankful for this sermon by Jessi Marcus, which sent me down some excellent scriptural paths that informed my writeup on The Last Jedi for the chapter. If you have time, give it a listen. It’s great!
In large part because of that sermon, I’ve been reading Walter Brueggemann’s Disruptive Grace, a collection of essays on the role of the Hebrew canon in Christian life. His writing on the book of Isaiah has been especially helpful in adding extra historical context to the Advent narrative.
Music I’m writing to:
Quality Street - Nick Lowe
I’m nothing if not consistent in my love for Nick Lowe. This is my go-to holiday album, featuring my all-time favorite rendition of “Rise Up Shepherd.”
No Thank You - Little Simz
A late 2022 release featuring gorgeous instrumentation as well as solid beats and empowering, poetic lyrics about justice, burnout, mental health and self care.
Painless - Nilüfer Yanya
Nilüfer Yanya’s music feels like a throwback to bands I loved listening to in high school and college—early Radiohead, The Pixies, Portishead, among others—with more overtly hip-hop rhythms and melodic vocals that turn it into something unique. It’s great music for just vibing, especially during dreary, wet winter days.
Last but not least, cats:
A friend managed to capture this genuinely sweet and holiday-appropriate photo of Buster just before he got spooked and ran off, ultimately breaking the cactus lamp. RIP cactus lamp. You were pretty cool.