The above image was shared on social media, and it absolutely floored me. Part of that is because we don’t get trees like this in the part of the world in which I grew up. So I’m always impressed when I see one of these Jurassic-sized pieces of nature exploding into the sky. But this? Just wow.

It’s always remarkable when nature and art collide in this way, but there’s something really powerful to see this kind of thing: a tree was felled by lightning, and the brokenness exposed this column of wood. A person came, saw in it something of themselves, and they carved a little synechdoche — a part of a person to stand in for the whole of ourselves that reaches up and our, tree-like, into the world, into the universe.

A small, but profound video hit me in just the right spot this week, and I’m sharing it with you all. You can look at the video here.

The images are grainy and hard to see, so take a look at this on your computer if you can’t see it well on your phone or device.

Its clearly something someone took on their phone while driving. A hedgehog has stopped in the road, intransigently, unwilling to get out of the road. Maybe he was too scared. Maybe he didn’t know what he was doing. Maybe he was confused.

A bird…

The above was widely shared across social media. But in doing so, it created a lightning rod around an issue that we are ALL sharing in and suffering through during the year of COVID. This year SUCKS for birthdays.

If you’ve had a birthday, you know what I mean. If you are waiting to have a birthday, you might be getting ready for the same experience. It is impossible to celebrate, to memorialize, to congratulate or even to observe someone on their birthday, unless they are in your pandemic pod. And I say this having brought folding chairs to a…

Turkish Film Pioneers

I tend to think of French or American silent films when I think of the beginnings of the medium. It was a technology that, clearly, still shapes the world, but the ability to capture things happening in the world and playing it back later was even more profound when it first appeared. The story goes that the first time a film portrayed a train coming at audiences from a first-person perspective, the people screamed in horror, unable to imagine that the train was not real and in fact coming at them.

But it turns out that early…

So this blew me away in a “huh! I didn’t think that was possible” kind of way.

The story is from biologists studying the fauna of the Seychelles. Like many islands close to continents, the Seychelles have a history of ships landing on the islands and being exploited to the ends of their resources by sailors and others who landed there. As a result — like the proverbial Dodo — many extinctions followed in the aftermath of the ships. One example was a species of white throated rail that was flightless (this often happens on islands to species that evolve…

The idea of the sad clown was put on stage in the famous depiction of Pagliaccio in Ruggero Leoncavallo’s opera of the same name. It’s probably the operatic image that most non-opera-goers might know — imagining Pavoratti in clown make up singing the famous aria:

Laugh, clown, so the crowd will cheer!
Turn your distress and tears into jest,
your pain and sobbing into a funny face — Ah!

It’s the kind of thing that you might see on the Loony Tunes while growing up even if you never saw it in your adult life. And because of that formative…

In preparation for the coming church year, I’ve been looking at some older books on class in America. (You have to look for older writings because, with a few notable exceptions, we seem to have stopped thinking about class in America.) While reading from Paul Fussell’s Class: A Guide Through the American Status System I came across his reference to a common houseplant I’ve seen my whole life — the Aspidistra. It looks like this in the ground:

I’m certain that I never spent a day in my house growing up without the company of this plant. But what I…

Something about Summertime always makes me whimsically nostalgic. It is a season in which I will eat food that isn’t reasonable to consume for someone who isn’t 12 or under. It is a season in which I will intentionally drive long distances at night just to put the windows down and turn the volume up. It is a season where I don’t mind that watermelon has seeds. It is a season when I love to lean into every cliche/stereotypical/ordinary aspect of warm weather in America.

One aspect of this that has an extra-special place in my heart is minigolf. Because…

I talked to a friend of mine (he’s a Catholic theologian and a long time lover of comicbooks) about my thoughts about comic books after I posted about it on this blog. He told me that he’d been thinking a lot about comic book movies himself. Specifically he’d been thinking about the famous essay by Catholic fantasy writer and linguist J.R.R. Tolkein, “On Fairy Stories.” I asked him to write up his thoughts, and I’m very glad I did. Here they are.

The box office success of the MCU — defying the repeated warnings from critics about (their own) ‘superhero…

The critics have been hating on super hero movies since they started to show up in their newly expansive form, about ten years ago. They are an extension of the tradition of the “Summer Blockbuster,” which has always defined a kind of movie most critics find unserious. Even where a Roger Ebert or A.O. Scott is willing to tip their hat to a successful multi-million dollar production, this is not really “cinema.” And that kind of distinction has certainly been true for all of the movies released by Marvel, Inc. in what has become known as the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”…

Dr. Allan T. Georgia

Dr. Georgia is the D.R.E. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland, OH.

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