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Celebrating U2; Whitman on Eleni Mandell; Christian Film Industry??

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1.
I had the great pleasure and honor of taking part in a tribute to U2 over at The Hurst Review, the fantastic music review blog run by Josh Hurst. Josh collected a number of wonderful, insightful written tributes to U2 from critics like Beth Maynard, editor of Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog, Andy Whitman from Paste magazine and Razing the Bar, Jason Morehead from Opus, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, senior editor of All Music Guide, Brett McCracken from Relevant, Christianity Today and The Search, and Christianity Today magazine editor Mark Moring.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I suspect that this collection of writings will be among the finest, most inspiring, most insightful reads about U2 you will find anywhere in the coming weeks. The hype of their new album, No Line on the Horizon, will certainly be monumental and many writers will take on explaining and exploring them and their work. However, here, in Josh’s collection, are personal articles, musings and retrospectives on the way that music and art can change lives and inspire people. For years U2 has been doing that and this collection is further proof.

Not to mention that the writers that Josh gathered for this tribute are among the finest art critics anywhere (I’m not saying this because I was involved – in fact, I certainly feel like I’m out of my league being a part of a feature with such phenomenal writers I look up to). I hope you’ll head over to The Hurst Review and read the tributes. Thanks for doing that Josh!

2.
The aforementioned Andy Whitman has reviewed Eleni Mandell’s great new album, Artificial Fire. He says it … is still [his] favorite album released thus far this year, including that new one from that Irish band.” His opens his review with the following:

Los Angeles hipster and Tom Waits acolyte Eleni Mandell has been writing and singing sultry pop-noir songs for almost a decade now, but it wasn’t until 2007’s stark, brooding Miracle of Five that she started to receive the acclaim she deserves. That album ended up on several year-end Best Of lists, including Paste’s. Her follow-up, Artificial Fire, should ensure that the radar is firmly fixed on her music for a long time to come—this big, bright blip on the screen is the best pop album I’ve heard in months.

3.
Jeffrey Overstreet has strong, concerned words about the so called “Christian Film Industry” that has, rather unfortunately, been springing up of late.He references a recent NPR story on the subject as well as recent articles Moveguide’s Ted Baehr had published in the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. Jeffrey writes:

If we stop focusing on creating “Christian Spielbergs” we may realize that God is already revealing himself through Spielberg himself, and that by working in the world rather than separating ourselves from it, we follow Christ’s own example.

4.
From the Christianity Today Movies blog, editor Mark Moring also responds to the NPR story. He concludes by saying:

There are a lot of comments at the end of the NPR article, and a lot of feisty words. But this comment especially struck me: “I am a non-Christian. Some of my favorite works of art: Paradise Lost, The Canterbury Tales, most sacred choral music, sacred painting and architecture from the European middle ages and the Renaissance. The message in these works is explicitly, didactically Christian. However, I enjoy the many aspects of these works that have significance and beauty beyond the religious focus. What’s more, there are many universal truths and useful lessons that any person of intelligence may glean and apply.”

So true.

Christians don’t need their “own” movie industry. Yes, Christians should make indie films, and make them really, really good. Keep honing the craft, improving the art, and telling the best stories — but learn how to do those things from the best in the business, not by creating a Christian-ese ghetto that only preaches to the choir.

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