Archive | Essays

The Church of Ruby Sales’ Radical Love

Today I had the great honor of witnessing legendary freedom fighter Ruby Sales talk with Middle Collegiate Church Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis in a Q&A entitled “Redeem the Soul of America.” On the docket: Martin Luther King Jr., the SNCC, #blacklivesmatter, the spiritual void of racist capitalism, the colonization of African-American music, and the history of patriarchal white supremacy in the GOP. Miss Ruby took us on such a profound 90-minute journey that it’s impossible to enumerate all her points—she’s against social media-sized reductions, anyway (read books! she said)— but one statement rings in my ears. “I’m not about breaking glass ceilings. I’m about building a new roof.” Listen to this clip of her revolutionary love here.

Why ‘The Exorcist’ Haunts Us Still

I first saw “The Exorcist” when I was 13 and home alone. This, of course, was a mistake; by the time the iconic bars of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” were running over the credits, I knew I’d never sleep that night, or possibly ever again. But it was not the circumstances of my viewing that made this film so abjectly terrifying. Forty-five years after its release, the adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s 1971 eponymous novel remains the most frightening movie ever made, and not just because it features a tween whose head spins backward.

At the time of the book’s publication, it seemed unlikely to ever achieve a mass audience, let alone be adapted into the ninth highest grossing film of all time when adjusted for inflation. Until then, Blatty, who also authored the screenplay, had been best known as the comedy screenwriter who’d given us the Inspector Clouseau mystery, “A Shot in the Dark.” A devout Catholic, he’d fictionalized an account of a 1949 exorcism by a Jesuit priest, but even his fancy Hollywood credentials couldn’t save it from being sent back to the publisher in droves. Only when a mysterious set of flukes landed him on the Dick Cavett Show for a full 45 minutes did the “The Exorcist” catapult to the New York Times best-seller list, where it remained for 57 weeks. Continue Reading →

‘Wag the Dog’ Still Wags the Dog

When “Wag the Dog” hit theaters on Christmas 1997, nothing could have seemed more cleverly prescient. About a fake war staged to draw focus from a first-term U.S. president’s sex scandal, the film was released a month before then-President Clinton was accused of having sex with intern Monica Lewinsky and an Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan was subsequently bombed by the U.S. Viewed ten years later, this dark comedy seemed even more relevant. Though the world was verging on an economic meltdown after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, the media was distracted by Britney Spears’ nervous breakdown and Brangelina’s growing brood. Only today does this adaptation of Larry Beinhart’s novel American Hero read as depressingly dated — if only because we have entered a new era of fake news and governmental deception. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy