I do these posts every now and then when there are a few things I want to review/talk about, but they don’t need a full post each. Read on for my take on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a new podcast on reading the Bible, and the new album from The Classic Crime.
‘Please tell me you have a refrigerator full of severed toes’
Ever since Disney took over Marvel Studios from Paramount, fun has been a central theme of the films. Not that Paramount’s films weren’t fun (I don’t think anyone could accuse Thor or Iron Man of being too serious), but Disney has definitely injected a stronger comedic flavour since taking over, with films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man essentially being comedies. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 certainly continues in the style set by its hugely successful predecessor, with countless laugh-out-loud moments, and a couple which basically reduced me to tears of laughter the first time I saw it, one of which is referenced in the sub-heading above.
For me, as for a lot of people, the sequel didn’t quite live up to the heights of the first film, but that doesn’t stop it being excellent in its own right. The storyline was arguably more original (in the cinematic universe, anyway), though it was rooted in some good old-fashioned parent troubles. We also got to see more of the relationship between the Guardians, a welcome development as the first film was basically an origins story, though I do feel that some depth was sacrificed to make the film more comedic – most noticeable, perhaps, in Drax.
Is it worth seeing if you’re not a Marvel fan? Possibly. If you’ve seen and enjoyed the first film, then you’ll almost definitely love Vol. 2, but if you weren’t a fan then you’ll probably find a lot of the same things to dislike in this film. For me, it was a solid 8/10, and one of the most fun Marvel Studios films yet.
‘The only God-ordained podcast on the internet’
Since writing my list of recommended podcasts a few months ago, a couple more have come out that are just as good as those that I already enjoyed: The Bible for Normal People, presented by Peter Enns and Jared Byas, and Reconstruct, presented by Dan Koch and John Raines. I’ll probably talk about them both in more depth in the future, but I wanted to introduce you to The Bible for Normal People in this post.
Each episode of this podcast, of which there are currently about 10, takes the format of biblical scholar Peter Enns and former pastor and professor Jared Byas interviewing guests who normally have some area of expertise regarding the Bible (with the exception of one episode, which is a discussion between the two hosts). Some of my favourite episodes so far include:
- Walter Brueggemann – Resurrecting the Bible in the Mainline Church
- AJ Levine – Jesus, Judaism and Christianity
- Kent Sparks – Where did the Israelites come from?
My one caution for my more orthodox readers is to not come to this podcast expecting to hear orthodox views on the Bible. Enns and Byas start with the assumption that the Bible is not inerrant in a factual sense, though this is a concept that is regularly explored, and the views expressed certainly challenge a lot of what I have been taught up to this point in my Christian faith. While the subject matter can be heavy going, Enns and Byas always carry the conversations with a touch of humour and self-mocking, as the quote (from the start of every episode) shows. For me, this is one of the podcasts I most look forward to listening to each week.
‘Every drop of holy water comes from the ocean’
That lyric is from the song ‘Holy Water,’ the opening song on The Classic Crime’s new album, How to Be Human. The group’s latest album is their first on the BC Records label, having previously been with Tooth & Nail. Their departure from the US ‘Christian mainstream’ is noticeable on the album, as themes of sincere doubts and wrestling with faith reoccur throughout the album, and no easy answers are offered in response.
Musically, the album is just what I love to listen to, but I lack the technical musical knowledge to say exactly what that is. Basically, it’s probably classified as rock and it’s catchy. Lyrically, I love so many of the songs on the new album – a lot of them resonates with me pretty strongly. For example, the song ‘Not Done With You Yet,’ one of my favourites on the album, tells the story of someone working through a life where it’s clear that not everything is perfect, but through the questions retaining the clear sense that God has a purpose for them in that life. The sentiment isn’t conveyed in cliched terms – it’s not saying, ‘God’s always in control so don’t worry,’ but it keeps God in the picture even when things seem senseless.
I still feel like I need to listen to the album a few more times to appreciate a lot of the songs, but my early highlights are:
- ‘Holy Water’
- ‘Not Done With You Yet’