I get the privilege of filling in for DZ this week on Another Week Ends. He’ll be back next week, but in the meantime, hope you enjoy:

1. Over at The Gospel Coalition, David Zahl and Jacob Smith have guest-posted an insightful, compassionate article about The Subjective Power of an Objective Gospel. They describe how sanctification–and other outworkings of grace–should and shouldn’t inform the way we relate to the Gospel:

Firstly, we find that there is real, objective freedom, the kind that, yes, can be experienced subjectively. We are freed from having to worry about the legitimacy of experiences; our claims of self-improvement are no longer seen as a basis of our witness or faith. In other words, we are freed from ourselves, from the tumultuous ebb and flow of our inner lives and the outward circumstances; anyone in Christ will be saved despite those things. We can observe our own turmoil without identifying with it. We might even find that we have compassion for others who function similarly. These fluctuations, violent as they might be, do not ultimately define us. If anything, they tell us about our need for a savior.

2. Last week, Las Vegas weekly reported on a self-described “pinball wizard” filing a lawsuit against an arcade manager. Already listed as a “vexatious litigant” in California courts for his many lawsuits (falling in the shower, tire blowout, etc), the man still seems to think of himself as ‘more sinned against than sinning,’ ht DH:

In addition to damages exceeding $10,000, the plaintiff, John Luckett, who has no law degree and represents himself in court, asks for an additional $300 for each therapy session he will undergo due to the trauma of the alleged assault and from arcade operator Tim Arnold “forever 86ing” him from the Pinball Hall of Fame…

‘I have a lot of good cases that have a lot of merit, and I can’t file them in California,’ Luckett says. ‘I don’t file frivolous lawsuits. I’ve just had a bad experience of the whole world trying to screw me. I have had a lot of horrible things happen.’

3. At Slate, scary-movie fan Jason Zenoman tells us How to Fix Horror. Apparently most horror films hitting the box offices these days are remakes of older movies, and they’ve overwhelmingly tended  to stay in familiar territory:

Hollywood generally approaches each horror remake with the same strategy: the same, only more. The idea is to be very careful not to mess with the fundamentals that made the original a hit while jacking up the budget, body count, and blood to give moviegoers a reason to see the new version…

It’s strange that these movies show such fidelity when the films they’re remaking often defied conventions, broke taboos, and challenged prevailing tastes; their unwillingness to take their own risks has given the remake a bad name.

It seems like a cinematic analogue to filter bubbles–the familiar makes money, and audiences like movies that fit their expectations.

4. On the subject of entertainment bubbles, the Times this week gave a short overview of Pixar’s success over the past few years, noting the rare example of a studio that’s achieved both commercial and creative success–in short, their movies have been both challenging and well-loved by consumers.  Their secret? Taking risks, ht TB:

“How have we been successful? What is the creativity of Pixar about?” [Pixar head Lasseter] asked in a speech in February 2010 at Sonoma Academy, before answering his own questions. “It is about risk-taking…and it’s also about management, the leaders of the company doing kind of the opposite of what every other company does.” He added: “Most studios around the world, it’s like they want to do the safe thing… they want to do what they know will be a success.

The acclaimed studio may have ended their streak with Cars 2, which bore all the marks of a “safe” movie. All the same, I for one can’t wait for their next release.


5. In an unusually sympathetic take on Anthony Weiner’s recent embarrassment, New York Times Magazine columnist Mark Oppenheimer examines the public’s revulsion in terms reminiscent of the Sermon on the Mount.  Although the action has incited harsh judgment from constituents, other politicians, and the media, Oppenheimer takes a closer look the intent–something much more pervasive and sympathetic, ht CR:

One explanation is that the Weiner scandal was especially sordid: drawn out, compounded daily with new revelations, covered up with embarrassing lies that made us want to look away. But another possibility is that there was something not weird, but too familiar about Weiner…the impulse to be something other than what we are in our daily, monogamous lives, the thrill that comes from the illicit rather than the predictable, is something I imagine many couples can identify with. With his online flirtations and soft-porn photos, he did what a lot of us might do if we were lonely and determined to not really cheat.

6. Last month, yogurt company Yoplait took a long, insightful look at the Law–and then reinforced it in a television ad.  The ad featured a woman trying to rationalize eating a slice of cheesecake in the office while her colleague guiltlessly indulges in a low-fat, cheesecake-flavored yogurt. Although guilt certainly sells, General Mills pulled the ad after pressure from the National Eating Disorder Association. Almost as good as the ad’s axing was the commentary at Salon.com, showing that the voice of the Law can extend beyond mere biblical morality into cultural conventions, ht IS:

That’s why the ad isn’t just offensive to anyone who has had an eating disorder or cared about someone who has. It imposes the notion of sin on one’s eating habits, with the implication that depriving oneself of cheesecake is ‘good.’ Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA, told the Huffington Post that ‘To see this behavior in a commercial tells people with eating disorders, see, it’s even on TV.’

7. Finally, mardecortesbaja.com featured a  trenchant and touching review of the two stories of Super 8 from Mockingbird favorite Paul Zahl. The article looks at the two worlds of the film–one of controlling adults and the other of trusting children–and the way in which the children’s emotional openness reconcile the alien and heal the town:

The two stories in Super 8 reflect the two realities of Super 8.  The children see everything as it is, or you could almost say, only as it is.  The adults, so full of worry and fret, so completely engrossed by conflicting supposed obligations and responsibilities, see nothing as it is.  The cost to the adults is the near destruction of their lives and town.   The gift to them from the children is knowledge, understanding, and reconciliation.