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Weekend Reads: Wonder Woman, Studio Ghibli’s Theme Park, Cowboy Bebop, Bernie Sanders, Christianity’s Decline & More

Also: The decline of Contemporary Christian Music, Google Chrome’s ad blocker, Harvard and online privacy, and conspiracy theories of the Left.
Wonder Woman - Patty Jenkins

The runaway success of Wonder Woman, Hidden Figures, and Get Out challenges some conventional Hollywood wisdom. “What if it turns out that in the age of Netflix and Amazon, when movie tickets are expensive, and when every movie or TV show that’s ever been made can be beamed right into your living room with the click of a button — when it’s easy to find entertainment that is comforting and familiar whenever you want it — what if audiences are happier to take risks’ when they head to the multiplex? What if they might even watch a movie that doesn’t star a white guy, or one that has a story they’ve never heard of before?”

One of the highlights of our trip to Japan was visiting the Ghibli Museum. Now, Studio Ghibli is getting their very own theme park. “[T]he park is set in the world of My Neighbor Totoro and will allow visitors to enjoy flowers and trees during each of the four seasons. Don’t expect rides per se, but rather, a place to enjoy nature and Totoro.” Which sounds just about perfect to me.

Cowboy Bebop
The Bebop’s motley crew

Anime classic Cowboy Bebop is becoming an American TV series. “The space Western story follows Spike Spiegel and his rag-tag crew of bounty hunters, or Cowboys, as they try to capture the galaxy’s worst criminals and survive the unexpected dangers they encounter throughout space, sometimes saving the world in the process but always leaving millions in damages.” Not sure how I feel about this. I love Cowboy Bebop, but anime adaptations haven’t gone well and even been fraught with controversy. And of course, this begs the question: will Yoko Kanno’s amazing music will be used?

As someone who grew up in the ’90s, I lived through Contemporary Christian Music (CCM)‘s heyday. “The descent of CCM is a reflection of America’s waning interest in Christianity as a whole. The precipitous dropoff in CCM sales has left Christian labels and artists staring into the void alongside their pastors, scratching their heads, wondering where they went wrong.” My only complaint about this article? Not enough Carman.

Bernie Sanders
Feelin’ the Bern(Marc NozellCC BY 2.0)

Remember when Bernie Sanders spoke at Liberty University and said that “it is vitally important for those of us who hold different views to be able to engage in a civil discourse”? Those were the good ol’ days. “It was a remarkable moment: a Democratic senator lecturing a nominee for public office on the correct interpretation of Christianity in a confirmation hearing putatively about the Office of Management and Budget… As the demands for tolerance in America become greater, the bounds of acceptance can also become tighter. Ironically, that pits acceptance of religious diversity against the freedom of individual conscience.”

A surprising critique of Sanders’ comments from a friendly atheist: “Sanders said he would vote no to Vought because he’s a Bible-believing Christian, not because he said he would put the Bible over the Constitution while on the clock. That’s religious discrimination. That’s a violation of Article 6 of the Constitution (the part that says there should be no religious test for public office).”

Don’t be evil(Carlos LunaCC BY 2.0)

Google recently announced that their Chrome browser would come with a built-in ad blocker. Which sounds great, but it might not be. “The real goal for Google appears to be not just blocking ads sold by other digital suppliers besides Google, but to undermine third-party ad blockers, which stop Google ads along with everyone else’s.”

Reminder #4,539 that nothing you post on the internet is actually private: “Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten prospective members of the Class of 2021 after the students traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat.”

The Cross and the Flag
The cross and the flag(MadisonCC BY-NC 2.0)

Christianity is on the decline in America, and many pundits have suggested potential causes. One such cause, ironically enough, might be the Religious Right. “The decline of many evangelical denominations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, seems to give new credibility to the argument that the Religious Right was, overall, a detriment to Christianity in the United States. Such a claim, however, is difficult to demonstrate empirically.”

Conspiracy theories used to be the domain of the right. Now, with Trump’s rise, liberals are spinning plenty of conspiracies, too. “Waking up to a country run by a man who openly boasts of sexual assault, who has systematically targeted immigrants and Muslims for deportation, whose every utterance seems to bespeak some form of mental instability, liberals suddenly find themselves adrift in a world they never imagined possible. In a landscape this dystopian, conspiracy offers a salve. It promises an order behind the madness, some sort of rational explanation for the seeming chaos.”

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