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Posts tagged "Akira Kurosawa"


Ikiru: “To (re)Live”

This post comes as somewhat of a very late retraction. Ten years ago I wrote a Mockingbird piece about Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 cinematic masterpiece Ikiru, which in Japanese means, “To Live.” The point at which I wrote that post was a different time and place, and the weight of living tends to change one’s views. […]

PZ’s Ten Ways to Grow Your Church

Mockingbird’s roving correspondent has been taking in a lot of church services this Summer, mostly in the Northeast. Some have been excruciating, two have been glorious. Here are ten short reflections on my trip, on how to grow a church in light of what I’ve seen. The most important is the last.

  1. Begin by watching and studying every minute of Red Beard (1965) by Akira Kurosawa. The main character, a physician, played by Toshiro Mifune, is the ideal parish minister. Everything he does is perceptive, right, and plenum gratiae.
  2. Only ever preach one sermon, which is the forgiveness of sins, the absolution of every human “as is”, through the suffering and Passion of the Christ.
  3. Make sure every sermon has at least one arresting emotional illustration.
  4. green+rayRead, mark, learn, and inwardly digest each incident in Theophilus North (1973), the final novel of Thornton Wilder. Theophilus North is the all time handbook for intrepid, effective pastoral evangelism.
  5. Abolish all rules concerning weddings, and also baptisms, and say yes to every request you get. But don’t schedule baptisms, unless they are “in house” cases such as your child’s, for the main Sunday service. Do them privately Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon – the Jane Austen way.
  6. Focus monomaniacally on the casual visitor and seeker, but don’t let them know that. Just visit them or call them (personally) the Sunday afternoon of their visit. But call them after your nap.
  7. Only choose old and familiar hymns for Sunday mornings and make sure you do the choosing, not whoever is the organist.
  8. Never miss a chance to write a thank-you note. It should be an apt postcard from the Morgan Library or some place like that.
  9. Try to visit everyone in their home, even if they seem to resist it at first. Also visit everyone who gets sick when they are in the hospital. This has become one of the hardest tasks of parish ministry, partly because hospital parking lots have become more complicated and partly because hospital security no longer favors members of the clergy. It can still be done, however.
  10. Watch and study every minute, especially the last 15, of The Green Ray (1986) by Eric Rohmer. That movie is a testament to the reality that anyone can be saved, and there’s how it happens.

Don’t Miss: PZ’s Eight Easy Ways to Shrink Your Church!

Bart Ehrman and the Rashomon Effect

I recently caught part of the March 31 debate between Bart Erhman and Craig Evans on the reliability of the Gospels. While listening to Dr. Ehrman drone on in his typical, dated, liberal textual criticism of the Bible, something struck me: Dr. Erhman has completely ignored the Rashomon effect. Dr. Ehrman’s argument is basic (and […]

Ikiru ("To Live")

Akira Kurosawa’s cinematic masterpiece, Ikiru, is a wonderful movie. Kurosawa was a mid-20th century Japanese director, and his movies are absolutely brilliant, if you can survive three hours of black and white Japanese with subtitles. If you can, you will find that his characters speak to you out of their lives at a very deep […]

Another Week Ends: Mr. Fox, Mad Men, Wikipedia and Care Bears

1. Happy Fantastic Mr Fox day! My wife and I had the pleasure of attending a live interview with director Wes Anderson and actor Jason Schwartzman earlier this week. I’m proud to report that the second the Q&A opened to the wider audience, my wife’s hand shot up and she asked the question on everyone’s […]

Mockingbird At The Movies: Red Beard

Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) Have you seen Akira Kurosawa’s “Red Beard” (1965)? It sweats Mockingbird-style (a.k.a., one-way/monergistic) Gospel from every pore! I can think of no other film that better explores […]

Out Of My Cold, Dead Hand…Munitions And Freedom

I heard a story on NPR recently about a nationwide ammunition shortage. While part of the shortage can be linked to what is being sent overseas to fight the two wars, the owner of a California gun store gave a different, more curious explanation. Johnny Dury, the man being interviewed, claimed that fear of President […]

Favorite quote for 2008


“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, My Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

– The Small Catechism by Martin Luther