Archive for the ‘Pop culture’ Category

‘Corita Kent: Gentle Revolutionary of the Heart’ is a triptych of a life

November 9, 2017


Sr Rose Pacatte exhibits a literary painting-a triptych of a life destined for permanent collection: a woman artist, catholic wanderer, and human wonderer. The author reveals a complicated person bound up in the struggles and celebrations of church, higher education, art history, and self. Sr. Rose chronicles her evolution as an artist, educator, and revolutionary mystic with uncommon insight and extensive knowledge of the subject located in both the religious and secular. This book is a magisterial contribution to the series and deserves wide circulation. Miguel de Unamuno, in his Tragic Sense of Life, closes the work with these words from the heart: “May God deny you peace, but grant you glory”. Sr. Rose has issued, in vivid colors, a tribute to Corita that corresponds to Unamuno’s sentiment!
(My review posted at Liturgical Press.)





“A Bridge between Landscapes” a sustained gaze

October 7, 2012


I recently visited One Colorado Artist Studio in Pasadena featuring Artist in Residence Gregory Michael Hernandez and his exhibition titled “A Bridge Between Landscapes.” Amidst the impressive and convincing hybrid forms, interactive environment, and beautiful images generating metaphorical flights of fancy sits a ping pong table. Why is this object so arresting and compelling? Is it installation sculpture so ordinary that it triggers queries of a profound nature? Is it simply a playful work station? Is it a respite of recreational distraction from the intensity of the surrounding images requiring viewers to pay critical attention? I wonder if it actually is an alter that summons us to a place of hospitality and generosity? Hernandez’s creations are not devotional or doctrinal in any formal ecclesiastical way. His work is theological in its sublime gesturing toward questions of ultimacy and offering visual gifts to the art lover with a sustained gaze. The ping pong table is a dynamic piece that calls and convenes in its centered placement. It simultaneously encourages return trips to the curated walls that encase it. Sacred Space in a vernacular place!

The Tree of Life – special screening with panel Saturday, January 14, 2012 UCLA

January 5, 2012

“Death of the Critic” – Scott D. Young to moderate panel at April 2 event

March 11, 2011

Here is a description of the panel session that I will moderate at this upcoming conference:

“Who needs critics?” What use are film critics?” asks Nick James, film critic and editor of Sight and Sound. What is the difference between reviews, commentary, and criticism? Are there any distinctions to be made? Where can you discover great writing on film? Who are the really good critics and why? Is there a connection between cultural critique and movie criticism? Is there inherent conflict between amateur and professional critics? Is it inevitable that electronic communication will hasten the demise of print culture? Why is film criticism important for cinematic art and technological delivery mechanisms? Is there any space for the Religious Critic in a world preoccupied with the extinction of the movie critic? What do Godard and Schrader possess that the mass of blogger critics do not? Who is going to write the obituary and officiate at the critics’ memorial? Questions galore and conversations aplenty on this theme of the “critic in dire straits.”

I hope you to see you at the conference.

Click HERE for the Reel Spirituality website to register.

“Death of the Critic” Reel Spirituality Event April 2

March 11, 2011


Click here to register

Theological Vomit: “Dogma” Ten Years Later

March 20, 2009


It has been nearly ten years ago that Kevin Smith’s movie “Dogma” generated a whole lot of heated reaction and added incendiary material to the fires of the culture wars. “Dogma” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 1999 and was released by Lionsgate Entertainment in mid-fall of 1999. Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) is most frequently credited with triggering the upsurge in interest in religion and film. I think a strong case can be made that “Dogma” contributed to the cultural discussion about movies and spirituality that supersedes “The Passion’s” influence. No doubt “The Passion” engineered a commercial interest way beyond “Dogma” but Kevin Smith made a movie that still invokes a spirited debate because the culture war is a protracted war. There seems to be no timetable as to when the cultural combatants can exit the conflict. “Dogma” raises critical questions about the utility of such a conflagration.


In the Spring of 2000, I conducted an interview/conversation with Craig Detweiler (see Purple State of Mind.) I am re-presenting parts of that dialogue which remains pertinent for today.

Craig Detweiler (CD): To me Dogma is a theological comic book. It has its own mythology, its own back story that informs the angels, devils, muses and all these supernatural, other worldly characters which are roaming about. Smith’s format is perfect for a generation raised on comic books. The film is niched for a younger generation struggling with questions of faith and culture, faith and art and the search for God. The older protesting generation either forgot when they went through that phase or have gotten beyond those questions or they’re offended by the way the questions are posed and processed.

Scott Young (SY): I like that point, and I’ll mention that Ella Taylor, in her review for the LA Weekly, made comments similar to yours. She said, “Dogma has all the gruesome cheek of a carton for the under-twenties.” Would you say, though, that Smith’s film, which certainly resonates more with Generation X, doesn’t exclude any generation who wants to join in on the fun?

CD: Not at all. He has raised every theological question that he has ever had. He finds a scene or a character to deal with everything. There are all kinds of unexplained phenomenon and doubts and creeds that probably never made sense to him as a person. They are all dealt with in one way, shape, or form.

SY: It’s kind of a theological vomit.

CD: Exactly. Some probably find it resentful vomit because there’s a lot of talking. It’s a very talkie film about big ideas.

SY: It’s talkie, but would you say that it’s preachy in any way?

CD: No, because I think the filmmaker’s voice keeps shifting. You can’t really tell who is speaking for him and what is really trying to communicate until the last five or ten minutes, which I think are ten of the most beautiful, poetic, profound minutes of film that I have ever seen. It’s one of the sweetest, most tender portraits of God, and in this case, her grace that I have ever seen on screen. You have foul-mouthed characters being embraced and hugged and obliterated all at the same time by a very playful, loving God that when asked a direct question just tweaks somebody’s nose and considers that a sufficient answer.

SY: I agree with you. It is a rather profound moment in film. Film critic Robert Horton says, “So, while the majority of Smith’s characters constitute the chattiest group in movies today, the people with the greatest wisdom are the two who barely open their mouths.” Of course, that’s “God” played by Alanis Morissette and “Silent Bob” played by Kevin Smith himself. Dogma operates on a lot of different levels. That’s one of the greatest features of the film. It’s multi-dimensional in all kinds of ways. But it seems to me that the thing Smith is attempting is an artistic treatise on idolatry: taking beliefs and elevating them higher than God, Himself, which is again back to the last ten minutes of the film.

CD: I think Kevin Smith is saying, let’s put the culture wars behind us. Where has it gotten us? It’s gotten us a lot of anger, a lot of heat and a lot of division. Nobody has drawn closer to God. Nobody is drawing closer to faith as a result of fighting and arguing. Let’s just try the ideas for a change. It doesn’t mean that we are wishy-washy about those ideas. It’s just that we believe in living our faith instead of arguing our faith.

SY: Smith seems to be raising an art form in the film and that’s dialoguing or maybe I should call it spirited discussion, which is a whole other way of dealing with ideas than getting two entrenched opponents and giving them heavy artillery and then seeing who comes out the winner. So instead of culture wars, we are back to cultural debate.