By Tim Winterstein

I’m not proud of it, but Alfred Hitchcock is one of the gaps in my film self-education. It’s sort of like those classic books of the Western canon I always tell myself I’ll get around to. I’ve got good intentions to read more Dostoevsky or Greek dramas or Moby Dick or Les Misérables… well, they look good on my shelf, at least. So I finally watched Vertigo last year, and now Rear Window. Rope and North by Northwest are next. (I know, I know. By the way, have you all seen these great new shows, Breaking Bad and Justified?)

By Tim Winterstein

At one point in the documentary Karl Marx City (streaming on Netflix), the narrator (Matilda Tucker) translates two German words for dealing with memories. The first is Erinnerungskultur, or the “culture of remembrance,” and the second is Vergangenheitsbewältigung, or “the process of coming to terms with the past.” These are fitting terms for a country that seems to have more than its share of recent past with which to come to terms. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to watch this film so soon after seeing Hitler’s Children (which I wrote about here).

By Tim Winterstein

Since high school, I’ve been interested in my family’s genealogy. Nearly all of us German Lutherans as far back as I can trace, all of those generations are part of who I am. So far, there haven’t been any shocking discoveries, but there are certainly intriguing gaps in the records. At what point did my German ancestors settle in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (my father’s side) or Russia (my mother’s side)? What is the connection between the German town of Winterstein and my family? (One interesting speculation is that our ancestors were Sinti [Christian Roma or Gypsies] who took the Winterstein name after working as tailors for the minor nobility of Winterstein).

By Bob Hiller

Remember that scene from the Luther movie that came 15 years ago where Martin Luther takes the boy who hanged himself and buries him in the church graveyard? Everyone was standing around in shock, and the gravedigger was telling him he couldn’t do it. After all, it was thought that suicide was a mortal sin. With no chance for repentance or penance, this soul was not going to be given the opportunity for purgatory, let alone rise on the last day in the protective shadow of the church. It was believed that suicide meant damnation. Yet, Luther showed compassion in the shadow of the church. He gave that boy a Christian burial. The meaning of his actions was clear: Christ’s mercy is stronger than suicide.

By Bob Hiller

Someone is caught in the act of a grievous error. Everyone saw it. There is no denying it. They can’t justify it. So, what should be said about it? J. R. Smith might not be the best guy to learn from in this scenario. As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers (the team J. R. Smith is on…for now) was about to pull off a huge surprise in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. No one really expects them to win the series; few expect them to take even a game. But at the end of Game 1, they were primed to steal one from Golden State and change the entire conversation. Down by one point with five seconds left, George Hill was at the free-throw line for the Cavs. He hits the first to tie the game at 107. It looked like overtime when he missed the second shot, but for J. R. Smith! He snags the rebound, and all he has to do is put the ball back in the hoop. Game over. Cavs win! Smith is the hero!