By Thames & Hudson
Affinities: A Journey Through Images from The Public Domain Review (Thames & Hudson, 20221) is a book that delights and captivates just as it defies easy description. On a basic level it’s a picture book, a collection of over 500 images from the public domain. The out-of-copyright material includes engravings, etchings, photographs, seismographs, mezzotints, and much more from all kinds of sources – textbooks, prayer books, ship logs, catalogs, advertisements, and (you guessed it) many more absorbing images.
On a more transcendent level, this book is a meditation on the beauty and wonder of creation. Adam Green, co-founder and editor of The Public Domain Review, is the author, but really he is more of a guide, almost wordlessly illuminating connections between images that are grouped together by visual kinship rather than the standard organizing principles of time, place, or format. What emerges is simply marvelous.
While Affinities is not explicitly religious, it’s hard not to sense a deeply theological impulse at work. The first few images show the darkness before the creation of the universe (1617), the separation of the light from the dark (14th century), and children at a chalkboard (1899). From there, it seems all creation breaks loose.
It may appear chaotic and confusing at first, but Green’s vision is simultaneously intensely focused and all-encompassing. It’s a vision that allows readers to appreciate how everything belongs – even things that don’t seem as if they would or should or could. Together, they add up to a loveable, miraculous whole.
Edited by Darryl W. Stephens
Atla Press, 2022
Some 30 percent of U.S. churches are served by bivocational pastors, and 30 percent of seminary students plan to go into some form of bivocational ministry. These are some of the statistics reported in Bivocational and Beyond: Educating for Thriving Multivocational Ministry (Atla Press, 2022), an ambitious, informative resource that delves into the complexity and diversity of bivocational ministry with the goal of offering insight into the ways theological schools can prepare and equip students for this type of ministry. In the process, it enlightens readers about the current state of bivocational ministry in the United States, Canada, and Britain, and considers the myriad gifts and challenges experienced by these ministers and their congregations.
Edited by Darryl W. Stephens, director of the Pennsylvania Academy of Ministry and director of United Methodist Studies at Lancaster Theological Seminary, the volume is divided into three parts – landscape, leadership, and learning – and includes 19 chapters contributed by researchers and practitioners from 12 Christian denominations and traditions. Some draw on survey data from the Association of Theological Schools, the Canadian Multivocational Ministry Project, and other sources, while others use ethnographic research and personal reflections to address issues of vocation, calling, mission, and perceptions of bivocational ministry. There is much here to commend to readers interested in the future of ministry and congregational life. The book is free; download at atla.com.
Directed by David Frankel
1 hour 36 minutes
Based on the true story of Jerry and Marge Selbee, a retired couple who found a loophole in a state lottery game and used it to win millions, this film has little nuance but lots of heart. Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening play the title characters who form a corporation and enlist friends and neighbors to join their (perfectly legal) venture. Larry Wilmore plays Steve, the Selbees’ accountant, and Rainn Wilson plays Bill, a convenience store clerk along for ride. The small-town Michiganders use their winnings to revitalize their community in joyful, quirky ways.
The film offers a bit of indulgent fun to imagine the life-changing experience of winning the lottery, and it also touches on deeper issues: How can we prudently steward our treasure, talent, and time? And how do we discern whether to play it safe in a particular situation or risk everything? Jerry & Marge always puts people over profit – but reminds us that profit shared generously can bring blessings aplenty.
Directed by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert
2 hours 12 minutes
Middle-aged laundromat owners Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) are being audited by the IRS at the same time they are navigating nettlesome family issues – Evelyn disapproves of the relationship between their angsty daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and Joy’s long-term girlfriend, and the couple is planning a birthday party for Evelyn’s father (James Hong), who’s visiting from China and whose mere presence causes stress for his daughter.
What starts as drudgery – laundry, taxes, and family drama – suddenly shifts into an epic good-versus-evil battle that swings wildly through the multiverse. The action/sci-fi/comedy/drama skews violent and bawdy in parts, and the film’s shape-shifting nature can be hard to follow. But ultimately the film underscores the necessity of showing kindness and care to others, and of being fully conscious in a particular place at a particular time.
In one of the movie’s few peaceful moments, Joy – perhaps as a stand-in for the viewer? – confesses to her mother, “I was hoping you would see something I didn’t. That you would convince me there was another way.” Amid all its chaos, Everything Everywhere All at Once delivers an encouraging answer to that hope.
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