Yet Another Reason I Love Andrew Sullivan

From his blog today:

Instead of using political power to direct the lives of others through law, Christians should embrace true secularism as a neutral stage on which to explore and explain and witness to their actual faith. No law Rick Santorum will ever pass will be as powerful in people’s hearts and minds than his and his wife’s decision to have little Bella and take care of her, with love and discretion and privacy. In this act, he has shown Christianity. In his politics, he has shown how the freedom of Jesus and the coercion of the government are in contradiction.

This is my objection to Christianism, as it is to Islamism. Because it obscures the true message: Jesus led by example and non-violence, not by the coercive power of the state. And the message of the Gospels and of the lives of the saints is exactly this: witness, don’t control. Let go of such an impulse. Live the truths, and you will find people coming to you. And if the truths are lies, only freedom will allow you to see past them to deeper truths.

He goes on to quote Nouwen:

There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess … I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it.

And concludes with this:

What great power Christianity of this sort should have in the culture of our time. How many false attachments are we addicted to – celebrity, money, possessions, news, the web. How much greed we see and how much anger we feel. Jesus liberates us from these things that cloud our culture and soil our souls. How tragic that in politicizing this message at this moment we are obscuring its timeless promise of freedom?

My New Hero

Eloquent. Honest. Humane. Who knew we still had legislators like this?

Get Thee To The Hulu

Are you watching Portlandia?  Why not?

The first season of Fred Armisen’s laugh-out-loud sketch comedy show (a delicious satire of Portland, Orgeon’s notorious  hipsterism) is available on Netflix, but Season 2 is now on Hulu!

I suggest starting here:

(And that goes especially for you, Chris and Kendra.)

The 2012 New Years List of Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen…But Should.


A wonderful little gem.  Enchanting, beguiling and often moving, it’s the story of a man and his new wife returning to his family in rural North Carolina.  Off-beat and strange in all the right ways, this one always does what a good movie should do: it makes you feel a question.

The Best Years of Our Lives

In an eerie reminder that there really is nothing new under the sun, this beautiful movie chronicling the return of servicemen from WWII is remarkably relevant today.  Following three servicemen as they attempt to reclaim the lives they left behind, this movie never ceases to startle with the force of its emotional frankness.  If it’s occasionally sentimental, it earns every tear-jerking moment with its surprising and powerful honesty.  This is old Hollywood at its best.

Higher Ground (2011)

For anyone who’s ever struggled to reconcile their faith with the baffling and seemingly capricious difficulties of life, this movie will give you lots to think about.  Vera Farmiga’s compassionate and honest meditation on living with faith and doubt is the kind of rare and poignant reflection we don’t see much on film.


This Sporting Life

In the wake of WWII, a raft of “kitchen sink films” chronicled the hardships and despair of lower-class life in Britain.  This star-crossed romance between a rugby player and his landlady is no stiff-upper-lip snoozer. Pulsing through Lindsay Anderson’s bleak and beautiful melodrama is an intimate acquaintance with desperation, longing, and heartbreak.

The Lookout

The fact that so few people actually saw this thrilling heist-movie-with-a-heart-of-gold makes me fear that American audiences really do deserve the slop they usually get.  This one is a cut above: bank robberies, guns, double-crossings and an emotional core that will actually make you feel something!  This movie’s got it all.


Jacque Tati was one of France’s great cinema artists and Playtime is widely regarded as his masterpiece.  Shot on 72mm film and meant to be enjoyed on an enormous screen, Tati’s intricately composed visuals marry precise comic choreography and immaculate production design.  Don’t bother looking for a story.  Allow yourself to be immersed in the imagination and virtuosity of Tati’s elaborately constructed satire on modern living.

The Fireman’s Ball

Milos Forman’s early masterpiece – a stinging satire of life under communism in Czechoslovakia – barely escaped banishment by the censors.  If you like the ‘mockumentaries’ of Christopher Guest, you might just enjoy this one.  Subversive political critiques notwithstanding, this story could easily have been set in Blaine, Missouri.  (Czech with English subtitles)

Judy Berlin

This was the great Madeline Kahn’s final film performance.  As much an exercise in mood and tone as anything else, if you absolutely must have resolution at the end of a movie, you might want to avoid this one.  Part of its considerable charm is the winsome way it raises lots of questions – and leaves them largely unanswered.

Il Generale Delle Rovere

If they re-made this movie today, it would star George Clooney and be chock full of melodramatic close-ups.  What is striking about this film, set in Italy during WWII, is its self-restraint.  Rossellini allows the emotional impact of the narrative’s moral power to speak for itself.  (Italian with English subtitles)

Let the Right One In

What do you mean Swedes don’t make awesome vampire movies?  (Swedish with English subtitles)

A Face in the Crowd

Though over fifty years old, this movie feels stunningly fresh and prescient today.  The cautionary tale of an ah-shucks good ‘ole boy who ascends to national media prominence (while forfeiting his soul), feels like a biographical expose of just about anyone regularly appearing on Fox News.  This is Andy Griffith as you’ve never seen him before.

Night and the City

London has never looked so bleak in this luscious black and white noir from Jules Dassin.  Bursting with deliciously corrupt characters and over-the-top performances, this fast-paced descent into London’s seedy underworld is unabashedly entertaining.  Doom has never been so much fun.

Is this what love is, kirsten?

We all just want some love.  A profile of a young couple – both of whom have a form of autism.

“Parents always ask, ‘Who would like to marry my kid? They’re so weird,’ ” she said. “But, like, another weird person, that’s who.”

A Modest Proposal for those pesky student loans

How do you curb massive student debt?  Glenn Reynolds thinks it’s by giving students the chance to default – and leaving the schools with the bill.

For higher education, the solution is more value for less money. Student loans, if they are to continue, should be made dischargeable in bankruptcy after five years — but with the school that received the money on the hook for all or part of the unpaid balance.