Most Recent Archive

Free speech and economic choices

January 18, 2019 Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach Wider View

Esther Koontz, a math teacher from First Mennonite in Hutchinson, Kansas, wanted to contract with the state of Kansas to train math teachers. But as a condition of her employment, the state required her to pledge that she does not support economic boycotts against Israel or Israeli settlements. As a matter of conscience Esther refused to sign, and she was denied the contract. The American Civil Liberties Union took Esther’s case to court and in January 2018, a federal judge issued a favorable preliminary ruling, saying that boycotts are a protected form of free speech. The state of Kansas amended […]

Fiction readers: do you love literary or popular books?

(, , , , , , , , )
January 17, 2019 Gordon Houser Media Matters

According to an October 2013 article in Scientific American by Julianne Chiaet, researchers at The New School in New York City “found evidence that literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling.” Participants in the study read excerpts from genre (or popular) fiction, literary fiction, nonfiction or nothing, then took a test that measured their ability to infer and understand other people’s thoughts and emotions. The difference was significant. Literary fiction, writes Chiaet, “focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships.” It increases readers’ psychological awareness. “Although literary fiction tends to be […]

If Beale Street Could Talk

(, , , , , , , , , , , , , )
January 10, 2019 Vic Thiessen Media Matters

As I created my list of top-ten films of 2018, I noted that it was an outstanding year for films about the black-American experience and that most of those films were made by black filmmakers. Among them were Carlos López Estrada’s Blindspotting (written by Daveed Diggs), Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You and Peter Farrelly’s Green Book. But the best was saved for last, with Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, which I like even more than Moonlight, Jenkins’ Best Picture winner of 2016. Tish (KiKi Layne) is a […]

Roma

(, , , , , )
January 4, 2019 Jerry L. Holsopple Media Matters

Roma, the latest release from Alfonso Cuarón, lulls you into the slow pace of repetitive chores and activities. You begin to wonder if anything is going to happen. Cleo, one of two maids, serves an upper middle-class family with four children. She cleans, takes care of the children, does laundry and helps serve the meals. She is called to hold the dog, every evening, while the father, Antonio, carefully pulls the car into the tight space behind the gates of their house. Sofia, the mother and Teresa, the grandmother, round out the family. Antonio, the doctor, offers the first excitement with […]

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

(, , , , , , , , , , , , )
December 27, 2018 Matthew Kauffman Smith Media Matters

The only comic book I remember buying was one based on the movie The Muppets Take Manhattan. It was hardly a collector’s item, and my collection never made it past one. I perused comic books at friends’ houses, but I never became interested in comic books. On the big screen, I have enjoyed my share of movies from the Marvel Cinema Universe, but never had any interest in going back and reading the original stories on which the stories are based. So I was skeptical when I heard good things about an animated, big-screen version of Spider-Man. My skepticism morphed […]

Courage is knowing what not to fear

December 22, 2018 Tammy Alexander Wider View

A number of migrant caravans made their way from Central America through Mexico this fall. Though these caravans were unusually large, migrants often travel in groups as they are less likely to be victims of violence or other crimes. They left home with only what they could carry on a more than 2,000-mile journey, some with small children in tow. Thousands walked northward, many seeking to escape gang violence, domestic violence and poverty. After weeks of walking and waiting, they were met at the U.S.-Mexico border with armed border guards, razor wire and tear gas. U.S. officials treated their arrival […]

Mortal Engines

(, , , , , , , , , , )
December 21, 2018 Carmen Andres Media Matters

What happens when Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens—the filmmakers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit—get a hold of the futuristic steampunk world of Mortal Engines, a 2001 young adult novel by Phillip Reeve? You get an adventurous and visually gorgeous two hour movie with a touch of thought-provoking ideas. Set hundreds of years after the “Sixty Minute War,” during which the use of powerful quantum weapons resulted in geological upheaval, giant predator cities roam the Western world on wheels, ingesting smaller cities and devouring dwindling resources. Haunted by her mother’s murder, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) […]

From despair to hope on the shepherd’s field

December 20, 2018 Carmen Andres Wider View

By Leona Lortie  In October I joined an MCC-led learning tour travelling through Palestine and Israel to learn about the conflict and to see the realities on the ground first hand. Our schedule was composed of an interesting mix of visiting MCC partners, travelling through the region to see the differences between occupation and relative freedom, and tourist spots including the holy sites. During one of the mornings, we made our way from Bethlehem to visit the YMCA, an MCC partner, in neighbouring Beit Sahour. The YMCA is fortunate to have offices on one of the shepherd’s fields, a site where […]