[Ancient Faith Radio; June 21, 2007] Frederica: I’m sitting here on the sofa in the blue room in my house with my son Stephen, who has a red wristband on that says ‘Bonnaroo.’ Does it say ‘Bonnaroo 07’ or just ‘Bonnaroo?’ 2007. And on the other sofa is Jocelyn, I think fast asleep. Yeah, she’s fast asleep. They’re exhausted because last night at this time they were just getting in the car to leave the Bonnaroo music festival and they had an 11-hour drive and have done laundry and a number of other things in between. Steve, when was the first time you and Jocelyn went to Bonnaroo?
[Ancient Faith Radio; June 15, 2007] Frederica: Here we are. I’m at a beautiful outdoor café, what was the name of this place? I’ve forgotten already. Tree, something, Italiano, I think. [Laughs] I’m looking around, I’m trying to see if there’s a sign. Anyway, I’m in Malibu Village in Malibu, California on an overcast day. It’s pleasantly cool; it’s just perfect here, as it so often is. June gloom, I’m told. I’m sitting here with my friend, Barbara Nicolosi, who is a screenwriter, who is a teacher of screenwriting and has a number of other talents and one of the things that frustrates her is Christians that think they’re going to write a screenplay and convert the world to Christianity with a script that is pretty unprofessional. But let me let you speak for yourself; just start in anywhere. Hit it, Barbara. They can’t see you moving your hands and making faces; you’ve actually got to – [laughs]
[Ancient Faith Radio; June 8, 2007] This movie theater here: the Muvico 24, is just south of Baltimore and it’s such a hoot. I don’t know too much about this company, this chain, Muvico theaters, but they build their theaters to have these grandiose themes, and this one is Egyptian temple, that’s the theme we have going on here. As you approach this 24-auditorium theater, there are these huge columns with big capitols on top. Everything looks like it’s destroyed, like it’s in ruins. It all has cracks painted into it, Egyptian figures going around these columns. I’m guessing there’s about 20 columns with black bases and then the sandstone rising up above that. Huge multi-colored panels and snake heads and all kinds of crazy things.
[Dallas Morning News, October 1, 2006] “I didn’t like the part in the restaurant,” Hannah, my 6-year-old granddaughter, said. We were leaving a screening of Sony’s new animated feature, “Open Season,” and I was trying to remember any scene in a restaurant. When she said it was “too messy,” I realized that she meant an early scene where the movie’s lead characters, a suburban bear and a one-antlered deer, run loose in a mini-mart.
[FirstThings.com Blog, August 21, 2006] Buried in the course of Sunday’s New York Times front page story about pedophilia and the internet there was an unexpected kernel of good news. There are “a shrinking number of internet locations for sexual images of minors.” A pedophile who goes by the screen name Heartfallen complained to a discussion list that the sources for graphic child porn are disappearing: “They’ve vanished. There is much less freedom on the internet now.”
[National Review Online, May 12, 2006] On Mother’s Day, what says “I love you, Mom!” like a new vacuum cleaner? A whole lot of dark chocolate with almonds might do it. Or a pair of chunky silver earrings, or a dozen of the smelliest roses. Even a phone call saying “I love you, Mom!” does a pretty good job. But it takes a vacuum cleaner to really evoke the whole motherhood experience. Oh, the many times I shoved a vacuum under a child’s bed and got a pajama bottom tangled around the brushroll. Do tears spring up prompted by wistful memory, or by the smoke of the jammed rubber belt?
[Christianity Today, March 2006]Selected for Best American Spiritual Writing, 2007 If you hang around with Christians, you find that the same topic keeps coming up in conversation: their worries about “the culture.” Christians talk about sex and violence in popular entertainment. They talk about bias in news reporting. They talk about how their views are ignored or misrepresented. “The culture” appears to be an aggressive challenge to “the church,” and Christians keep worrying over what to do about it.
[Unpublished; email to a friend, January 7, 2006]There are three things people mean when they talk of childhood innocence: vulnerability, ignorance, and moral purity. (I touched on this in my First Things piece on “Against Eternal Youth,” but didn’t have room to get into it fully.) A child's (1) vulnerability ought to stir us; we want to protect them physically and emotionally. That's one of our most urgent drives. But (3) moral purity is a chimera; children are born completely selfish, and slowly and painfully learn to make room for others in their lives.
[First Things, August 2005] I’m a fan of old movies, the black-and-whites from the 30’s and 40’s, in part because of the things this time-travel reveals about how American culture has changed. One thing that’s struck me lately is how differently the adults in these films carry themselves, walk and speak. It seems adults used to have a whole different kind of bearing. It’s hard sometimes to figure out how old the characters are supposed to be. They seem to be portraying a phase of the human life-cycle that we don’t even *have* any more. Take the 1934 version of “Imitation of Life.” Here Claudette Colbert portrays a young widow who builds a successful business (selling pancakes, actually. Well, it’s more believable if you see the whole movie.)
[Beliefnet, January 7, 2005] On December 26 the tsunami hit, and on the 27th I set out on a long car trip, circling through the south and visiting family. So while most of you were being continually hammered by new and terrible information, I was getting it in small, amazing pieces - a headline on a motel newspaper, a TV broadcast in a diner. The numbers mounted in a way that seemed unreal, artificial. At first it was twenty thousand feared dead, then seventy, and all of a sudden someone told me the toll was nearing 140,000.