Going to church is more important than watching the Super Bowl, right? Not so fast. A new study by LifeWay Research (reported in Christianity Today) found that 41% of protestant pastors whose churches typically have Sunday night activities plan some sort of adjustment to that schedule to accommodate the big game. A small percentage of churches (5%) plan on canceling services entirely, while 12% will adjust Sunday night activities and 24% will adjust activities to include watching the game together as a congregation.
“While Christians believe the truth does not change, we recognize practices often do,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Churches face a difficult task of navigating between wanting to remain countercultural and still reaching the culture. In this study, we find churches coming to different conclusions for their congregation and local context.”
Even as pastors and churches grapple with how to accommodate cultural events such as the Super Bowl, others are trying to discern what it is young people today want from church. Much has been made in recent years of Millennials apparently fleeing organized religion. But some think that what they’re looking for is a deeper sense of mystery and meaning, elements that many (anecdotally speaking) are discovering in churches that place a greater emphasis on the liturgy.
Jumping back a couple of generations, Boomers are mourning the loss of one of the icons they grew up with: actress Mary Tyler Moore, who died last week at the age of 80. Slate writer Willa Paskin says that Moore’s most famous character, spunky single gal Mary Richards, established the template for many memorable female characters who would follow in her footsteps. Meanwhile, some of Moore’s equally iconic peers, notably Dick Van Dyke and Ed Asner, are remembering Mary as well. Van Dyke told The Hollywood Reporter that Moore’s tenure on his show (The Dick Van Dyke Show) “was the best five years of my life.” Asner, who played her pugnacious boss Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, told USA Today, “She was an inspiration to women and she was a good example as a human being. And, of course, she was a fighter.”
Back on the big screen, some observers are wondering whether the nomination of the film Moonlight, a coming-of-age story of a young, gay black boy, will further “normalize gay characters of color.” Vassar College associate professor Mia Mask to Salon, “I do think it’s significant that a film not only about people of color but also one that highlights a homosexual relationship is nominated for Best Picture.”
Then there’s the other end of the aesthetic cinematic continuum: the Razzie Awards, that inglorious, ignominious collection of films that Razzie voters deemed the worst movies of 2016. Zoolander No. 2 earned the most of these unwanted nods, with nine nominations, including Worst Picture. Other “competitors” in that category include: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Dirty Grandpa; Gods of Egypt; Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party and Independence Day: Resurgence.
Finally, the creepy fictional phenomenon known as Slenderman is in the news again. Thankfully, it’s not related to a crime this time, as was the case when two Wisconsin teen girls felt prompted by the imaginary monster to stab a classmate back in 2014. Instead, the new HBO documentary Beware the Slenderman tries to understand exactly why these girls assaulted their peer.
Reviewing the documentary for The Atlantic, Lenika Cruz writes, “Beware the Slenderman, directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky, is a true-crime film that’s less interested in ascertaining guilt (since the girls confessed) than in the psychology and social factors that led to the stabbing in the first place. It deftly examines the rise of the Slenderman myth online, via online horror stories and art known as ‘creepypastas,’ message boards, fan sites, and social media. But it also looks at the tangled intersection of children’s neurological development, the ubiquity of internet access, literary history, adolescent insecurities, and mental illness—as well as the criminal-justice system responsible for punishing the girls.”