On Wednesday, January 6th, the world watched as white nationalists stormed the U.S. Capital in order to overturn the 2020 presidential election in favor of their candidate, Donald Trump. Many, myself included, experienced a sharp wave of moral clarity. Overturning a free election is evil. Full stop. And then the social media deluge began. I watched close friends vent their righteous anger. I myself fumed at a-factual comments that trade reality for fiction. “This is it’’, we feel, “No more compassion, we must act.

This feeling of moral clarity is powerful. What should we do with our feelings of self…


I’m a Laurie. And when I was fourteen, I met my March family. I remember walking into a house full of four girls — they laughed and talked over each other — bringing a sense of vibrancy and color to life. I have a very distinct memory of leaving that place — after a week of games, eager discussions and arguments, and late nights of laughter — deeply changed. Somehow there was so much more to life after that week. I suddenly felt so insignificant as a man, but in a good way.

As Laurie walks into the March’s home…


What’s fascinating about James K. A Smith’s book on postmodernism is that he’s both adverse to protestant fundamentalism and liberal “accommodation” theology. While conservative theology overly intellectualizes, abstracts, and literalizes the biblical witness (not to say there are not many key literal elements), the liberal theological project majorly relies on the Enlightenment’s assumptions; individual autonomy, another equally unbiblical concept! So what would it look like for the church to rid itself of a secular desire for absolute certainty, and individual intellectual and social autonomy?

Enter Radical Orthodoxy. Ok, two scary terms squashed together. Radical, well, is radical — no thanks…


Jean-François Lyotard’s postmodern contribution can be summed up in one simple critique: an incredulity towards metanarratives. Metanarratives are often seen as synonymous with“big stories”. Postmodernism, in its essence, is then seen as suspicious of any big stories. Ok, when we hear this we think, “The Bible is a metanarrative, it tells a big story from creation, fall, redemption, to restoration. If postmodernism is suspicious of big stories then it has to be suspicious of the biblical story!” Well, not quite. James K. A. Smith argues that actually orthodox Christian faith requires that we stop believing in metanarratives too.

Let’s look…


James K. A. Smith begins his explication of postmodern theory with Jacques Derrida and his foundational, but misunderstood, claim that “there is nothing outside the text”. This phrase has been often construed to say that only language exists — that the symbols we use are just socially agreed up signs, but don’t actually refer to anything real. A cup isn’t a cup, we just call it that, all there is is language. I remember my mother talking about a class she had at UC Riverside in the late 80’s — the chair in the middle of the room, it doesn’t…


There’s an assumption in the church, particularly the theologically conservative church, that our temptations come primarily from accommodating to secular culture. This causes us to assume that Christian culture is simply what secular culture isn’t. This is reductionist.

Let’s consider parenting. As a parent, it’s not about being loving on one end or strict on another, it’s about how to love through discipline and that’s just one parental dimension. There are so many more dimensions to learn how to navigate — there are few easy answers. Any parent will tell you the dizzying complexities of parenthood with few binaries; so…


Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash (2014) and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) are sister films; aggressive, violent, and unsafe — each swimming in the psychological waters of self conception, artistic capacity, and personal drive. Both follow an artist’s increasing madness in attaining perfection with greater and greater costs. Black Swan’s Nina and Whiplash’s Andrew are driven by demanding instructors who push them beyond their limits into paranoia, madness, and a singular focus towards their goals. Their narrative structures are stripped down to key scenes, characters, and ideas that function to drive their themes with intense almost thriller like energy — propelling both…


The Spectacular Now posits itself as a high school romantic comedy — two lovable leads, highs school and teen love; popular guy meets shy girl and the unlikely match becomes something special. However, The Spectacular Now subverts the genre by digging into its characters and revealing humanness — the beautiful and the ugly and therefore says something true about all of us.

Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) lives in the moment. The film starts off with him proudly announcing his accolades; he’s popular, he’s got a great girlfriend, he’s the life of the party. He represents life on “the automatic mode”…


Lady Bird is intentionally an understated movie. Music is used lightly; scenes are short and function as small vignettes of life. While its main character Christine “Lady Bird’’ is over dramatic, the film itself is surprisingly under dramatic. The cinematography isn’t flashy. The writing is stripped down to short conversations any teen girl and her mother have ever had; teen anxiety, bickering, boys, school, and the ever present horizons of freedom intermixed with the constant constraints of early adulthood. The collection of small scenes create an atmosphere so real, relatable, and unpresumptuous it’s only cinematic comparison can be its sister…


Palo Alto encases its characters in a world of intense desires. They hook up, drink and get high. In a sense this could be viewed as intense self expression and passion. Yet Gia Coppola’s more interested in the aimlessness, the lack of direction, along with the intense passions that her characters inhabit. While treading close to vapidity, Coppola’s film keeps surprising you — scenes that intimately portray teenagers on the brink of adulthood without any coherent conception of what life is for. The characters respond differently and they act our their need for direction through sex, drugs, and bizarre behavior…

Peter Fiore

Public Faith | Church | Culture

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