catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 20 :: 2007.11.02 — 2007.11.16


Grant’s recommendations 11.2.07

MUSIC: Take Me Out to Hear the Band by Julie Lee

This album by Nashville singer-songwriter Julie Lee, wraps the listener in a warm blanket of harmonies and horns, guitar, banjo and mandolin.  It’s Americana with heavy swing and jazz influences.  The sentiments expressed in Julie’s sweet voice are easy-going and measured truths drifting and curling like smoke above songs that feel like long, slow, meaningful musical hugs.


LITERATURE: Beginning to Pray by Archbishop Anthony Bloom

Beginning to Pray came out in 1970 but it’s still relevant today for those who struggle with the discipline of prayer.  As Bloom points out, we are all always beginning to pray, so it’s a book for everyone who seeks an intimate relationship with the Creator.  Bloom begins by tackling the question of our sense of God’s absence. 

If you look at the relationship [with the living God] in terms of a mutual relationship, you will see that God could complain about us a great deal more than we about Him.  We complain that He does not make Himself present to us for the few minutes we reserve for Him, but what about the twenty-three and a half hours during which God may be knocking at our door and we answer ‘I am busy, I am sorry’ or when we do not answer at all because we do not even hear the knock at the door of our heart, of our minds, of our conscience, of our life.  So there is a situation in which we have no right to complain of the absence of God, because we are a great deal more absent than He ever is.

The book is filled with such simple insights.  Bloom’s Beginning to Pray deals with questions of prayer like “To where should one direct their prayers, somewhere above or within?”  and “How should I address God?” without reducing everything to mere practical issues.  Prayer becomes an even greater and more glorious mystery in the hands of Anthony Bloom.


FILM: Transformers

It’s not a great movie.  It may not even be a good movie in spots, but if you’re looking for something to pick apart, something to really hone your spiritual discernment skills, look no further than Transformers.  Directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) with executive producer Steven Spielberg, it’s a classic good vs. evil story—the stuff of ancient mythology, comic books and the Bible.  Spielberg’s characteristic mix of sci-fi adventure and epic themes (remember the Mt. Sinai image in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind and the September 11 allusions in War of the Worlds?) pervades Transformers.  Bay and Spielberg present a model for male heroism to the adolescent psyche with Transformers, defining the good man as someone who displays courage and self-sacrifice.  Shia LaBeouf plays the 16-year-old Sam Witwicky who experiences all the necessary rites of passage for an American teen.  Sam’s dad takes him to get his first car—which ends up being a transforming Camaro.  Sam’s car helps him win the attention of his dream girl who decides to go along with Sam for the ride of their lives, if you know what I mean—you know, the ride to save the world from the evil Decepticons.  And Sam learns to solve his own problems without his parent’s meddling.  In a very comical scene in the middle of the film, Sam is busy trying to save the world while his parents are afraid their son is up to no good.  They are relieved to find him in his room with a girl—their little boy is growing up.  Little do they know he’s the world’s only hope and is racing around the city with a bunch of mutant machines.  Don’t view this film as just a silly summer blockbuster.  It is a comedic 21st Century nod to the teen flicks of the 50s (there’s an important planetarium scene that hearkens back to Rebel Without a Cause), a film that acknowledges the confusion and social needs of the typical American adolescent male.  And since psychologists are finding male adolescence seems to be stretching further and further into the late 20s for many American men, perhaps this film is not just for 16-year-olds after all.              

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