Never seen a Pixar movie before? Monsters, Inc. (2001) is a good place to start. It’s a buddy movie, about Sully and his best friend, Mike. Sully, voiced by John Goodman, is a gentle giant, and Mike, voiced by Billy Crystal, is a short, round guy with overflowing self-confidence. It hardly matters that Sully is eight feet tall and has blue and purple fur, and Mike is basically an eyeball on legs.
This version of the Akathist Hymn is my translation, from my book “Mary as the Eastern Christians Knew Her.” (Note: this is a paperback version of a book published a few years ago in hardback as “The Lost Gospel of Mary.” We decided to change the title, since the “Lost Gospel” meme has passed.)
The main thing I wanted to do was to provide footnotes for all the verses from Scripture and other references St. Romanos makes, since just singing it in church it goes by so quickly. It is a beautiful hymn, very profound, and makes a good text for study and prayer.
St. Romanos, author of the Akathist Hymn, was born in Beirut in 475 AD.
[Dec. 17, 2012] Surprisingly enough, we received a Christmas card from the Islamic Education Center in Potomac, MD. I’m impressed; what a kind and peace-making gesture.
Here are the images that go with my Ancient Faith Radio podcast, a recording of a speech about the history of icons.
1. The baptistry from the church at Dura Europas, Syria, from about 245 AD.
When the protesters were sentenced last week for their performance in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, a friend asked me why Orthodox Christians were so upset about what they’d done. For him, this was clearly a political protest. It was aimed at a too-close entwining of church and state, so it took place in a church. What’s the big deal?
But, in practice, there’s a difference.
The movie hadn’t been on very long, but I had the feeling that most of the funny scenes from the trailer had already flown by. I checked my watch: six minutes. Not much later the rest of the trailer galloped past. Then Dodge, the Steve Carrell character, pulled into his rooftop parking place at work. He leaned forward to check an insect bite on his cheek in the rear view mirror. With a shattering crash, a body landed on his windshield.
As I watched the trailer for Brave I had a sinking feeling. It’s funny, of course, and the images and characters are brightly appealing. But the plot … hmm. A feisty young princess is to learn which of three princes — who range from wimpy to oafish — will be her future husband. They will compete with each other in feats of archery, with the winner to wed the princess. But she refuses her socially assigned fate; taking up the bow herself, she easily bests the suitors and wins her own hand.
[Christianity Today Online; May 11, 2012]
Cast: Nadine Labaki (Amale), Julian Farhat (Rabih), Leyla Hakim (Afaf), Yvonne Malouf (Yvonne), Ali Haidar (Roukoz)
Outside a small, dusty village in Lebanon, a few teens with an old-fashioned boom box are climbing the hills, trying to find a place where they can get good reception; their home town is so isolated that news from the outside world is an occasional thing. Only a narrow, badly-maintained bridge connects them with the surrounding countryside, and it is surrounded by land mines that were planted long ago and never removed. Yet it’s worth it to take that risk sometimes, if they can find a signal.
Just today I read about the Naked Face Project; two women in Charlotte, NC, Molly Barker and Caitlin Boyle, decided to try, for just 60 days, to go without makeup, jewelry, shaving, uncomfortable clothing (like tight skirts and high heels), painted nails, beauty lotions, and anything more than basic hair styling.