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THE LAST DUEL: When Speaking Truth to Power Self-Destructs

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“The truth does not matter. There is only the power of men.” These words come from The Last Duel , Ridley Scott’s historical drama about the last sanctioned trial-by-combat in medieval France . This particular movie has been on my radar for a while, as it touches on topics I have spent years researching and writing about. My friend Jonathan Broxton describes the focus of the film thus: “the powerlessness, lack of agency, and mis-treatment [sic] of women throughout time.” The story, he says, helps us see “how comparatively little has changed over the course of the past several centuries in terms of how sexual assault is viewed differently by men and women.” As such, I am grateful for the opportunity for collective introspection provided by big-screen treatments of this subject. In spite of my excitement over The Last Duel , however, there is a problem. Two problems, actually. In attempting to address the debasement of women in society, the movie inadvertently debases its actresses.

THE NEW JIM CROW: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Because of an increasing desire to grow in my understanding of race relations in the United States, I have focused much of my attention on older books to help me get a better sense of where we’ve come from as a nation (and better understand where we are now). In reading the likes of Frederick Douglass, Charles W. Chesnutt, John Howard Griffin, and Martin Luther King, Jr., I’ve had a specific aim: to guard against the deception of short-sighted, modern-day commentary without a broader understanding of history. After all, as has often been said, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. In an attempt to dip my toe into present-day scholarship, I decided to work through Michelle Alexander’s seminal book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness . This is the first modern book on racial discrimination I’ve read by someone outside my political and ideological circles. And since I have failed to find a detailed review of the book that evaluates its weakness

Oh, the (Abolition of) Humanity: An Interview with Michael Ward

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He has forever changed the way we read  The Chronicles of Narnia . He has been hailed by N.T Wright as “the foremost living Lewis scholar.” And now he’s giving modern-day readers fresh insights into Lewis’s writing in his newest scholarly work, published by Word on Fire Academic . Dr. Michael Ward is a professor, writer, author, speaker, and thespian. And that’s only what he does on the weekends. But seriously, and more personally, Michael Ward was instrumental in revitalizing my interest in the Narnia series, which I had mislabeled as a hodgepodge of narrative and thematic elements. (To my credit, J.R.R. Tolkien made the same mistake himself.) Due in large part to Ward’s influence, I have grown in my enjoyment and appreciation of Lewis’s work. Ward’s newest book, After Humanity , follows in the footsteps of Planet Narnia by introducing readers to a deeper understanding of one of Lewis’s works —in this case,  The Abolition of Man . In preparation for the book release, I, along

The Professor and the Prostitute

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During one of his travels, a seminary professor visited a famous cathedral. Upon entering, he was surprised to find a call girl crumpled on the floor, weeping loudly. He quickly moved past her so he could take in the beauty of the cathedral. Miffed as he was that the call-girl’s sobs were distracting him from the beautiful surroundings, he was inspired to pray thus: “God, thank you that I have the capacity to truly appreciate and understand all this architecture and artwork. Thank you for giving me a sense of decorum in such a place...” (Here he spared half a thought for the girl in the back, whose sobs rose briefly in volume). “I write articles for reputable publications, and I contribute to your work through charitable giving. Thank you that I am not like so many other people who come in here: half-drunk, half-awake, half-crazy.” On his way out of the cathedral, the professor could hear the call girl, who was still on the floor, mumbling the words, “Have mercy, I’m such a rotten sinn

Chronological “Snubbery”: On the Proper Reading Order for The Chronicles of Narnia

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Those who purchase a book set of The Chronicles of Narnia today might assume the content of the series is in the same format as it was when C. S. Lewis first wrote it. That assumption, while understandable, is inaccurate. For the length of C. S. Lewis’s life (and decades beyond), his seven books from the world of Narnia were arranged so that readers would go through them in the order in which they were published. In 1994, however, the books were reordered and renumbered. The seven separate installments, as they were originally written and released, progressively develop the world of Narnia. As such, the rearranged book set unfolds the overarching narrative in a jumbled fashion. It ends up revealing information to the first-time reader in a slapdash manner. At several key narrative points, the current book order tips its hand to the reader before it even makes its play (so to speak). The argument in favor of this new arrangement is that the books are now in a more chronological o

Men, Be Brave and Bold—not Macho or Milquetoast

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In the NFL, an average game lasts about three hours. Take out all the commercials and you have only an hour of game time. Remove all the time between plays and you end up with an eleven minute game. Of course, for individual players, the play time is even shorter. A quarterback, for example, can hold the ball in active play for fewer than 120 seconds. And yet, even though actual play time per game is incredibly small, players prepare for those scant minutes —or seconds— with over 60 hours of training. Now, if you know me, football facts don’t just roll off my tongue. I ’ m not a sports fan by any stretch of the imagination. About the closest I get to watching football is checking out the Super Bowl commercials—after they’ve aired. No, I learned the NFL facts above from Marty Machowski’s newest book, Brave and Bold: 31 Devotions to Strengthen Men . Those football stats, Machowski says, can illustrate an important truth: the extensive testing (or, rather, training) of our faith devel

Hollywood’s Most Oscar-Worthy Treatment of Rape

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Rarely does a cinematic exploration of sexual violence make it all the way to the Oscars. The 93 rd Academy Awards, however, have proven to be an exception. The film Promising Young Woman  “seeks to subvert the rape-revenge genre, replacing mindless fantasy tropes with deliberate and realistic elements.” Regardless of the film’s merits (or lack thereof ), what this year’s Oscars have reminded me of is an event over 70 years ago—the 21 st Academy Awards , in which another cinematic exploration of rape received even more notable attention. The year was 1949. Oscar nominated films included the likes of Joan of Arc (starring Ingrid Bergman) and Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet . The film with most nominations, however, was Johnny Belinda . With an awkward title and promotional poster, the movie might not look like anything special to a modern audience, but belying its uncouth outer shell is an artistic powerhouse of a film. To this day, Johnny Belinda remains one of the most Oscar-nominated