Christmas Movies and Serial Killers

Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464), The Annunciation:

Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464), The Annunciation

Today is the first Sunday in the season of Advent, a time in which Christians traditionally prepare themselves by reflection and prayer for the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, God made flesh.  Ultimately, of course, Jesus was sacrificed upon the Cross for our sins, and “sacrifice” is a fit subject for Advent reflection:

We may think of sacrifice in its patriotic or collective sense, as when we attended a Veterans’ Day parade or when an earlier generation watched a movie about World War II hero Audie Murphy (1925-1971).

More commonly, we talk about sacrifice in its individual or instrumental sense, as when we say that an athlete has made sacrifices to achieve proficiency in a sport; when parents scrimp and save to send their children to college; or when George Bailey puts everybody else first in It’s A Wonderful Life (1946).

We even grapple with “sacrifice” in its entertainment sense. We are great consumers of fiction and nonfiction books and films about serial killers and psychopaths, many of whom are presented to us as treating their victims sacrificially.

None of this is how scripture views sacrifice. The distinction is critical: in one direction lies death (Christmas movies and serial killers); in the other direction we find life. How is this so?

Read the entire post here, from the Cathedral Church of the Advent blog: Christmas Movies and Serial Killers.

Some eggnog?

Some eggnog?

 


Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction

Forgot how itchy this suit is.

Forgot how itchy this suit is.

Pop culture and theology mix fruitfully in pulp-crime fiction.

Here’s a four-part course from 2012: Red Harvest: Crime Fiction and Gospel Conviction          .

Here’s the blurb that went with the class:

Crime fiction, in its varied forms, both illuminates and counterpoints the Gospel.  Crime fiction correctly presents and analyzes the sinful human condition, even where its conclusions are horribly wrong.  And, in crime fiction as nowhere else, the law is most definitely the Law: God did not get after Cain for shoplifting.

Second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke.

So: four classes’ worth of dark human hearts and blazing Gospel light, interspersed with mayhem, Augustine, detectives, 1930s pulp novels and the overlooked theological punch from the opening line of The Postman Always Rings Twice: “They threw me off the hay truck about noon.”

These are complete classes, so prepare a stiff drink before hitting “Play.”

As an example of what not to drink, consider this assault on civilization from that Pravda of sentimentality, Parade magazine: Girl Scouts Cookie Thin Mints Martini

Ingredients

  • 3 parts chocolate vodka
  • ½ shot creme de menthe
  • 1 shot chocolate milk liquor
  • Chocolate syrup (as needed)
  • 1 Thin Mint, crushed

Directions

  1. In a martini shaker, mix together chocolate vodka, creme de menthe, and chocolate milk liquor. Shake well. If you don’t have a martini shaker, use a glass filled with ice and mix well.
  2. Coat a martini glass with chocolate syrup. Crush the Thin Mint cookie and coat the brim of the martini glass with the cookie. Then, pour your martini drink mixture into the glass.
Thin Mints Martini: ready for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Red Lobster.

Thin Mints Martini: ready for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and Red Lobster.

 

The mind, as well as the bowel, races.  One might add:

3.  Insert Luger under tongue to minimize the aftertaste

 

 

 

The Seelbach.

The Seelbach.

Here is something more appropriate: Garden & Gun magazine’s Guide to Southern Cocktails.

 

 

 

 

We have, of course, written on crime fiction and how it relates to business crime, cocktails and theology before.

 

 


Criminals In Ties: Contract Law and Reservoir Dogs

Mephibosheth and David.

Mephibosheth and David.

The interplay between law — especially criminal law — and theology is more subterranean and nuanced than many give it credit for.  The same is true of civil law, as here:  Contract Law and Reservoir Dogs

A contract is an exchange of promises: “I promise to do x if you promise to do y.”  Each party must undertake an obligation—called “consideration”—for the contract to be binding.  A simple unilateral promise with no consideration (“I will give you my car on Monday”) is not usually binding.  These law-rules about obligations in our daily lives provide a contrast to the covenant that the Lord makes with David and to the way that David treats Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son.

Off to compliance training.

Off to compliance training.

Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992), of course, shaped an entire generation of criminals-in-ties on film.  We have discussed crime and theology before, at Spare the King and Seize the Spareribs, in what may be the only paragraph in English to discuss both King Saul and John D. MacDonald’s fictional private eye, Travis McGee.


John D. MacDonald and King Saul

The Quick Red Fox (1964).

The Quick Red Fox (1964).

We worked John D. MacDonald’s private eye, Travis McGee, into this discussion of King Saul and the young David:  Spare the King and Seize the Spareribs.  I most recently read The Quick Red Fox, which I was thinking about for the Saul and David post.

MacDonald had fine PI prose:

Darker Than Amber (1966).

Darker Than Amber (1966).

“We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge” (Darker Than Amber (1966)).