August 2009

You can read Jenna Busch’s entire review of “Inglourious Basterds” at the Huffington Post here:

“Occasionally I found myself thinking that a few of the shots where a character’s name is written across the screen with an arrow pointing them out could have been cut.”
In keeping with the theme of history being redacted continually and any cultural identity being manifold layers of editors’ efforts, this film strives to convey a Multi-Editor effect. There is a narrator who does not appear in the film (Samuel L. Jackson) and who only appears twice in the film. The multiple title styles are for the same effect. It is as though through the process of creating the film, editors could not decide on who in the film was important and how to introduce them. The final and most extreme expression of this is the hand-scrawled arrow pointing.

 “A friend pointed out that the David Bowie song during one of the pivotal scenes may have been a bit too modern and out of place, though I’ve heard opinions on both sides of that argument.”
The movie begins with an obvious Spaghetti Western score signalling that this movie is going to draw from any genre it likes to get its point(s) across. To criticize the scoring as overly ecclectic seems to miss that this movie is not about a time nor place. This is not a “war movie” anymore than Dr. Strangelove is a war movie though many reviews credit as being so, and it is certainly not a WWII movie. It is a playful meta-movie about an alternate universe to convey themes of the nature and role of cinema in myth making. Huzzah for Bowie!


Ryan McGivern


Can a movie which moves one to tears, make one laugh, and be the most important movie to see in a theatre
in years be ‘not good’? 
Yes. If that movie is Not a Movie and Not to Be Enjoyed. 

First, let me say why Inglourious Basterds is Not to Be Enjoyed.
It is a condemnation of humanity, a statement that we are blind to the shifting sands of public imagination and the re-writing of ‘history’, and moreover want to be fed propaganda that supports us.
As I walked from the theatre and heard people laughing, I was overcome with sadness. I felt like people were walking from an important statement about the corruption of the world, a self-knowing argument that cinema is the contemporary weapon of choice and that there will always be a vicious circle of destruction. 
This movie plays with the idea that ‘history’ is a created narrative, not a firm science. We grab unto myths, easy tellings that placate us, support our immediate agendas, and mythologize the hero and the villian.
Revenge movies are no different from our status quo hegemonic national identity. But that’s a hard pill to swallow.
What is the United States if not the world’s unblemished liberator and knight in shining democratic armor? 
Our approved history becomes seamlessly woven with popular consciousness largely through the cinema house. 
In the film, the question is posed, “What will the history books say of us?” and the next shot is of the cinema house.
Again, in the basement scene when they are playing ‘Who Am I?’ the nosy German decides through his questions that he must either be “The African American Slave Narrative” or “King Kong”. 
How can popular consciousness decide the difference between ‘what happened’ and the ‘the way mass media is portraying the story at the moment’?   

Inglourious Basterds is one of the most preachy movies I’ve seen in a while. I usually don’t like when a movie is telling me so plainly the ‘concept’ of the production. I like it when a movie hides, obscures, and artfully discloses truths to me rather than smashing an idea over my head with a baseball bat. But, I do give credit to the film for conveying a hard truth, one that is unenjoyable, one that condemns.

We, the audience are made out to be no different from the Nazis portrayed in the film. The two times that we see through the camera’s eye is when it is the view of dying or tortured Nazis. Our lust for power, our desire for revenge, and our willingness to throw others aside as we rewrite history to our liking makes us all guilty and deserving of vengeance.
(The issues of revenge and grace permeate Tarantino’s films and they are perhaps most plainly stated here.)
If only we all could have swatikas branded into our foreheads! If only our hates, our delight in the privilege handed us whether through class, race, ‘gender’, ‘sexual orientation’, our bigotry could be cast into the light! Rather, we duck and hide behind the current myths of ‘American equality’ and ‘post racial America’.
This is not a movie to be enjoyed, but one that is meant to shock, hurt, prophesy.

This movie is Not a Movie. It jumps into a meta level of being about itself and the role of cinema so much that it becomes a cobbled together message-movie. Tarantino has said that after viewing “There Will Be Blood” he wanted to ‘up his game’–if by this he meant that he wanted to create a great movie, he has failed. The characters herein are fun, playful, larger than life, and memorable no doubt. However, there is so much winking and reference that no one can be taken seriously (even the stunning performance of Christoph Waltz). Yes, as many have already written there are a lot of filmic references in the film–and I would ask where is the line between film-loving homage and spoof?

Is the movie powerful? Yes.
Is it worth seeing in the theatre? Yes. It is a powerful experience to see with others in the public square.
Is it worth seeing at home? Shrug. Waltz gives a good performance and the Basement Who Am I Scene is a textbook exposition on how to create tension in film.

As for Tarantino, I’m interested to see him make another film along the lines of Jackie Brown. If he truly wants to “up his game” he will be required to go in this direction rather than an overly preachy film that will only delight Freshman Level Film Class students.

Bottom Line: History is myth, cinema is myth production, the film strip is more powerful than the sword, everyone is equally deserving of vengeance….oh and two other things:

1) The cinema remains the most important role in American myth creation and yet the cinema is dying. The theatre house is threatened by personal media delivery and its continued existence is like that of the Personal Automobile–not supported by anything other than habit. Yet, unlike American Car Culture there is a need for some public arena to experience myth, ritual, and community narrative and memory.

2) NO ONE CAN MEANINGFULLY CALL ANYONE A NAZI ANYMORE. This is perfect timing for this movie. Though people are throwing out the accusation of “This person’s a Nazi!” as easily as ordering a milkshake, it is absolutely meaningless. I saw a young person the other week wearing a backpack with the image of a Confederate Flag. His obviously hipster chic ensemble said to me that he had no idea that it was associated with anything other than The Dukes of Hazard. The real threat that racism and white privilege poses to America, I feel, is no longer tied to the images of the Civil War, Segregation, the South, etc. Whether this is good or bad needs to be decided by America’s families, faith communities and education system. How did we get here? What happened to the world that allowed over 6 million Jews to be murdered? Can we allow the swastika to become just another symbol that eventually will be worn ironically by the future iterations of hipsters with images of Inglorious Basterds in their minds?
Our villians will change. Our cinematic bad guys may not always wear black and our real life oppressors and criminals do not have swastikas carved in their heads. How do we express our desires, values, and strive for justice without ourselves falling prey to the bloodlust of vengeance and speaking in such hyperbole and bombast that those we oppose become caricatures of villians that never were?

Ryan McGivern

“100% Vegetarianism Daily”
By: Anonymous Kind Looking Street Prophet

Vegetable Mineral Ethereal
Plants Universe Space
We chemically all dissolve back into
But! 7 years of this diet is sure to take 50-100% of your DNA soul material

Back into God’s Genesis 1:29-30 salvation plan.
50-100% more salvation w/ all 3
No less.
Attention: UFO, UN, England Axis, USA, Spain, Allies
Enforce For Everything’s own good.
New Testament God says “Behold I stand at the gate.” “I am the vine.”
(Seedless) (See Deathless)
See over all. Please more.
100% Vegetarianism daily.
100% Iron Daily.
100% Magnet Massages Daily.
(Notice that God is ¾ good. Genesis 1:31)
Get a new body from food before rigor mortis
(4-6 hours after heart stops)
But Vegetarians bodies do not.
Trains your body material to feel earth’s core of iron radiation and magnetic field
which trains sould material to feel touch of other souls in space-not die from alone.
Nothing to do.

Alive until resurrected by iron in cells magnetized by magnet massages/waist, neck, ankle.
Wristbands of magnets extra strong hardware—drugstores.
Difference between body and soul.
Also, much body weight of food we eat go out of our body every seven years.
Also, they get rigor mortis whether you’re ready or not.

Salvation is 100% vegetarianism daily.
The difference between soul and body
the meat eater gets stiff in rigor mortis
and its material touches common material and stars and planets come apart
until the universe ends.
“One nation under God” Constitution preamble
Genesis 1:29-30
100% iron daily to magnetize and teach cell stuff to heed the other being of earth’s
magnetic field
and iron core radiation go through all earth.
UFOs see other UFOs in stars shaped like antennae heads and they stop all life back
to mineral kingdom to stop death.
Head of Orion
Sons of God and Earthlings Antennae head of Orion
Antennae Head Etacyenus
Sons of Man and Both do God’s get straight before no change for suns
and Planets in future plan or we all going to find what wternally keeps happening to us:
Minus memory.
As we change with every new day so as our habits gotta get some rest, sleep, relaxation.
My boss says “a change is better than a rest.”
760 degrees Fahrenheit below Zero
all black structureless space material alone as meat eaters in rigor moris and all common touch by the (thou shall not kill
Heaven and thou Shall Not Kill Earth)
meat eaters kill God.
Vegetarian (Animal) Vegetable mineal (Universe) Ethereal (Kosmos) Common
Touch faint personality
souls trained when taken into universe by heed touch of magnetic field
of iron core fusion radiation to carry on in structureless ether
the God Common Touch Live.
On Earth as it is in heaven—no such thing—all feels forever—same as we chemically
dissolve into space stuff again but electro-magnetic into iron and vegetables
fed dead bodies plus ground up meat eaters with their familiar food material
and carbon and iron dust
magnetized strong enough to wake the dead.

I appreciate that John Piper has attempted to clarify his statements about the weather damage of a neighboring church. I also appreciate the discussion that has arisen from it.  
His original statement

and his clarification can be read here:

I feel that in this discussion and those like it we can lose sight of each other.
I have been ruminating over Pastor Piper’s post for a number of days now and in some
of the blogs I have read and in truth my own heart, I have seen a lack of love, kindness, understanding.
I attended Bethlehem for almost a year. I enjoy Piper. But I feel that there has been a line in the sand drawn that need not be.
I think of Psalm 133: “Feel how good it is for families to live together in unity!”
This boils down to a discussion of the dividers that we create between ourselves and other good Christians. A pastor of one church not but a few miles away from another looking in and interpreting weather damage. Or myself, when I hold other churches and faith expressions in low regard. I am guilty of line drawing too.
“I stand here under the true cross! My Jesus is more true, I know what sin is and can identify it in your life and I know when God is warning you.” I do it, but I want to be held accountable when I do it. The Body of Christ, justice, love, and the glory of God mean too much for me not to be.

When lines are drawn, people hurt, judgment cast, apologies help mend. Service and shared work help create reconciliation. Can Bethlehem stand alongside CLC long enough to help restore their place of worship, raise the damaged steeple cross?

When we encounter hardship, we are the best interpreters of our struggle. A thorn in our own side speaks to us in ways that others often can’t. When one loses a job (which many of us have of late) or gets sick who wants others (let alone strangers) to come in and interpret it for you? You stub your toe, wind blows away shingles, a bird gets too comfortable on your car…I will respect you and your walk with Christ enough to let you interpret it. In the meantime, I will live with you in shared worship, communion, living together in harmony.

Unnecessarily drawn lines between Christians often reveal themselves when love, joy, and Christ are abundantly present in another’s life. Had ELCA been acting rashly, hastily, selfishly, in malice or disregard, Piper’s blog would have rung more true to me. Had love, joy, and Christ not been abundantly present in the lives of those who voted in the majority, Piper’s message would have resonated more with me. But these are not the case.
Instead, I saw Christ in their proceedings. And let us not gloss over all the decisions that the assembly made: justice in immigration reform, advocacy for just treatment of malaria, HIV/AIDS, justice for women, greater inclusion of people of diverse abilities, and responding justly to disaster. These decisions blessing the Kingdom are not at odds with the decision to celebrate the shalom wholeness of all people–regardless of ‘sex’, ‘gender’, ‘sexual orientation’ or other such arbitrary human constructions.

I look forward to the report that Piper reaches out in reconciliation and leads his parishoners with tool belts on to repair and restore a neighboring church. I look forward to seeing pictures of the two churches sharing communion.

Behold how good and how pleasant it is….!

Meteorology is tricky business. Ask Al Roker. Even with all the fancy schmancy satellites watching our little blue ball day and night, nature takes us by surprise.

Ships get sunk, homes demolished, golfers get zapped by lightning, and Superman loses his powers when the Sun looks red. Being that nature is red in tooth and claw, which I take to mean ‘has gum disease and wears glitzy nail polish’, nature humbles and unifies us……Right?

Maybe I’m wrong about that. Maybe weather is a chance to pronounce God’s displeasure!

It’s a common phenomenon of late it seems:

September 9th, 2005 Hal Lindsay said this about Hurricane Katrina-
It seems clear that the prophetic times I have been expecting for decades have finally arrived. And even worse, it appears that the judgment of America has begun. I warn continually that the last days lineup of world powers does not include anything resembling the United States of America. Instead, a revived Roman Empire in Europe is to rule the West, and then the world.”

Pat Robertson warned Orlando Florida that if they were to fly Gay Pride flags:
A condition like this will bring about … earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor,”

The weather today in Sudan is mild and pleasant, by the way.

Does God not care about ethnic cleansing? No way! I’m sure God’s cooking up a good ol’ tornado right now. Imagine how punk’d the Mujahideen will be when a tornado gives their tents a rattle! Maybe they’ll take a break from hacking peasants apart to realize that God’s been sending a gentle nudge during Africa’s recent era of drought too.

God speaks to us in all kinds of easy to decipher ways. Griddles, trees, paint chips, tortillas, oil stains. Of course reading God’s omens in weather and chicken entrails works too!

Let me cut to the chase. Pastor John Piper of Minneapolis’ upper middle class and largely white Bethlehem Baptist this last week pronounced that a tornado in Minneapolis was God getting upset with Lutherans.

Lutherans! Those rascals. Always up to no good, bucking against the system!

Didn’t Lutherans ever watch the movie Cool Hand Luke? Sure Luke earned the respect of his fellow inmates and looked good doing it but what happened to him?
What about Star Wars? Huh? Lutherans? I’m talking to YOU! You ever see what happened to Darth Vader when he went against the Emperor? Well, I’ll just tell you. He lived just long enough to repent of his previous ways before DYING!
And let’s talk about this Jesus guy. Rabble rouser, all around boil on peoples’ asses. What happened to him?

So here’s how the story goes.
a) On Wednesday August 19th, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is meeting in Minneapolis to basically decide to ‘agree to disagree’ about blessing same-sex couples.

b) During their meeting, a tornado comes by, near their meeting location in the Convention Center and actually causes damage to nearby Central Lutheran Church (ELCA).

c) Pastor John Piper of neighboring Bethlehem Baptist Church, (just across the downtown of Minneapolis) issues a statement saying: “The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction.”

I want to be honest here and lay out my cards. I attended Piper’s church for almost a year. He is a fine person, a faithful Christian, and the church as a whole is pretty darn nice. I also have visited Central Lutheran Church and I also liked it. Good people. And what I feel is important to remember in all this is that we’re talking about people. Piper. The congregation of CLC. The people voting in ELCA and all the LGBTQ communities that Piper is denouncing in his statement posted here:

In my response, I want to write with these people in mind and take seriously that they all want more peace in the world. They all want to love and serve God. But I would say that something has gone terribly wrong when one pastor across town responds to weather damage of another church’s property with an accusation that God is unhappy with them.

Here’s some thoughts I’ve had.

1)    Isn’t the theology of ‘Bad Weather on Picnic Day is God’s Wrath’ a little Sunday school drop-out-esque?
I would propose that this ‘reading weather’ to discern God’s will thing is a bit immoral, socially irresponsible, and flat out ridiculous. To pray for sunny weather when we go to the beach and play softball is normal, I guess. But is this the height of faith? Is this the richness of God’s glory? Rainy days mean someone’s been bad? Mudslides that destroy your neighbor’s house are a confirmation that they’ve been stealing your New York Times? Give me a break.

2)    Rather than reading the weather for God’s will, we should respond to weather in what we know is God’s will .
A tsunami wipes out cities and displaces hundreds of thousands. Do we sit and ponder what God is saying about the sins of those affected or do we jump into the fray with compassion and service by immediately giving aid and relief? Maybe the Minnesota snowstorm isn’t God saying that Hibbing is full of alcoholics. Maybe it does give Hibbing churches an opportunity to respond by opening shelters, and fund-raising to help the poor pay their heating bills. I would propose that the true work of Christians is not laying judgment on others by using naturally occurring weather, but responding to other’s hurts and needs with love.

3)    Aren’t there other Bible-y interpretations of a church being damaged by weather?
Of course, had this weather-damage occurred in a different time and/or place, it would have been “God’s Judgment Against Icons!” or “God’s Judgment Against Using Musical Instruments!” ad nauseum. I see the connection that Piper’s drawing: Voting to Allow Variety in Our Churches’ Approach to Blessing LGBTQ Folk And A Tornado is Just Too Freaky To Be Coincidence!! However, couldn’t one look to the Tower of Babel as instructive? Arguably that story represents God saying: “Hey. Don’t be monolithic. Viva la difference!” And God zaps the tower and people go their ways in peace. Isn’t that nice? As the ELCA goes forward celebrating a democratic and peaceful decision to enjoy Christ differently in their congregations maybe God gave a ‘high five’ with a Babel shout out. Or, what of a rending of the Temple Curtain? (I know these stories are fictive, but fiction is illuminative!) The way the story goes, Jesus dies and the Temple’s curtain closing off the most sacred space rips open. The popular interpretation? Not that Jews are bad, but that God’s holiness extends to all people and all are welcome before God. Nice. Maybe that’s what God was saying to the ELCA. Not “You suck!” but “There is not a storm that you cannot weather while I am with you. Well done, my good and faithful servants!” Did Piper consider these?

Again in the spirit of disclosure, I’ll just tell you all flat out: When it comes to full inclusion and celebration of LGBTQ folks, I’m all bout it bout it. I’m thankful that the ELCA has come to the point that they have. May God bless them and guide them.

So where do we go from here? I hope that Piper and Bethlehem Baptist issue an apology and head over to Central Lutheran Church, shake hands, have communion, and get to work on fixing their roof together. Jesus was a carpenter, so they say, so get to it Bethlehem Baptist! Bring over your work belts and show some Christian love in action!

With love, Ryan McGivern

Covering the story, Minnesota Independent:

Piper’s Statement on his Blog:

Bethlehem Baptist


Central Lutheran Church


PinkEye: [Enters cell and closes door softly behind him]
DeliThin: Good Morning, PinkEye.
PE: Ahh! You frightened me, DeliThin. What in blazes are you doing awake?
DT: Its hard for me to sleep sometimes. Times when my ‘best friend’ [air quotes] doesn’t come home and I’m worried about him. Times when I have intestinal distress. Or times when I’m thinking about all the ways Star Wars Episode I went wrong.
PE: You need to get over that movie man.
DT: Don’t you tell me what to get over or not get over.
PE: And you need to get over being so overly protective of me.
DT: This conversation is over. I’m so totally over it.
PE: Alright.
DT: Where were you?
PE: [Sigh] I was being interrogated. Like I always am. Waterboarded, stress positions, humiliation you know the normal stuff.
DT: Alright.
PE: And I invited Dave over for brunch.
DT: [a questioning look]
PE: You know, ‘Dave’. He works in the interrogation room? Guard Number 48?
DT: That douchebag?
PE: Dave’s cool. And he’s coming over soon so help me pick up the place.
DT: The guy that we throw our feces at in protest is coming over?
PE: He’s a good guy when you get to know him. He’s really into movies.

DT: Who can’t say that they’re into movies? That is the lamest personal factoid. Have you ever met someone who says ‘I hate movies! I’m more of a radio lover!’

PE: You always say you hate movies.
DT: That’s because Susan Sarandon isn’t getting the roles she should.
PE: Dave is a cool guy. I think you’d like him.
DT: Don’t tell me that. Don’t you tell me that. I hate it when people say I’ll like someone. I’ve never once liked someone that I’ve been told I’m gonna like.
PE: Have you ever liked anyone?
DT: I have good self-esteem…..and….
[a knock on the door]
PE: That’s Dave. You just be on your best behavior. Rather, don’t have any behavior. Just sleep or stare at the wall.
DT: You should be ashamed of yourself the way that you’re ashamed of me!
PE: [to door] Come in! [door opens and Dave enters]
Dave: Well, hello PinkEye. ‘Long time no see!’ hahahahaha.
PE: Yeah! What’s it been? Like three minutes? Hahhahahaha
DT: [To self] I’ve got a feeling this is going to be the worst torture at Gitmo yet.
Dave: And hello there!
PE: Dave, I think you know DeliThin…
Dave: Oh, yes. We’ve never been properly introduced but I held a barking dog inches from his genitals just yesterday. Hello again, DeliThin.
DT: I’m not talkin’ to you until I can talk to a lawyer, pig.
PE: Deli!
Dave: That’s quite alright, PinkEye. [To DT] Can’t we just leave work at work for now and just enjoy ourselves? Life’s too short. Let’s let yesterday’s brutal bygones be bygones.
DT: PinkEye said that you two were having brunch together, Dave. Where’s the goods? Or did you lie to Pinky about that just like you lied to me when you said that you wouldn’t tazer my scrotum anymore?
Dave: I’ve got omelets, coffee, and bagels on the way.
PE: Oh, splendid!
D: Yes. Unfortunately, its against regulations to fraternize with the detainees…
PE: Of course-
D: So I had to smuggle brunch inside my rectum.
DT: I’m starting a hunger strike.
PE: Coffee! I hate to ask but,
D: Yes, I have cream and sugar too.
[an alarm sounds and Dave takes out his baton and beats DT and PE]
D: Sorry guys-kinda a ‘stimulus, response’ thing you know. I hear a siren and ‘whap, whap, whap!’
PE: What was that alarm anyway?
D: It’s the USO early alert system. We’ve got Miley Cyrus coming to entertain the troops. I should get going if I’m to get any proper seating. If you’ll excuse me.
PE: Certainly.
D: I’ll take some Immodium and save brunch for tomorrow. How’s eleven sound?
PE: That sounds delicious!
[Dave exits]
DT: Pinky, you know earlier when you asked if I liked anyone?
PE: Yeah?
DT: I thought of someone.
PE: Oh…..?
DT: I may sound silly-but I really like Miley Cyrus.
PE: Oh.
DT: Not in a creepy way! I just like her music a lot.
PE: This is the first time I’ve felt that you do rightfully belong at Guantanamo Bay.



The other day as I was watering the hillside in the shady area where
newborn shrubs reside, I noticed that fallen leaves had congregated around the new soil nurturing our babies shrubbies.
These leaves had laid there because of the dip around the new plants in their lovingly dug holes because of gravity and the hill shape, but their larger role in the hillside got me thinking: What do these leaves want?

I caught myself: Leaves can’t ‘want’ in the traditional way of thinking of wanting!
However, I became to wonder what the leaves were designed to do.
Because they were doing it whether I, or the newly planted shrubbies, wanted them to. I began to think that their ‘want’ was their design. What they were accomplishing for not only the tree but the local terrain and niche of fellow plants, animals, and soil was not by mistake.

They were not “Leaf2.o”, they were “Leaf500000.0” or somewhere around there. Their design had seen lots of success and failure and now they were dealing with a new input: us and our ‘babies’.
I watched as the hose’s water splashed over the leaves and largely was whisked away from the nursery and on down the hill.
In this moment, while stone cold sober, I met nature face-to-face.
(An experience that sobriety really should be cushioned from.)
I was up against a leaf with some serious prejudices.
I wondered how many ‘wants’, desires, or inclinations within humanity seem ‘natural’ and are really just one type of leaf interacting with unprecedented input. Just as this tree’s leaves had never met a wacko who was planting and watering strange new neighbors at its feet, so humanity couldn’t have readied for the radio. What occurred in response was a wild and peculiar reaction.
In either case, whether leaf meeting me or cultures meeting radio, the relationship could be considered equally ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’.
As I watched the water roll away from its intended hungry roots, I met the conflict of ‘wants’ within nature, technology, and being a body within an environment whose ultimate ‘end’ was much much larger than I.