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 Bob Hiller

A few weeks back, I was scrolling through Twitter in order to feel good about the world (because why else is anyone on Twitter?) when, lo and behold, I found a tweet I disagreed with! OK, have you picked your jaw up off the keyboard? Good. So, here’s what got me going. A rather popular and provocative author, Rachel Held Evans—who I suppose would be considered a part of the “evangelical left”—sent out this tweet: “We don’t have to cede the Bible to the fundamentalists.” At first, this statement got me all riled up. The arrogance of such a comment was, I thought, rather breathtaking, as though the Bible was a piece of property which we are all trying to control. But then it got me thinking: Who does get the final say over what the Bible says? Fundamentalists? Liberals? The church? My denomination? Who controls the Bible?

By Jonathan Holmes –

I don’t go on Facebook very often. If I do, it is usually to find jokes and other humorous tidbits, or the occasional theological writing that a friend has posted that might be worth reading. Besides, The Jagged Word, of course. However, not everybody trolls Facebook for the same reasons I do. What, you’re surprised?

By Tim Winterstein

On the one hand, Wild Wild Country (six parts on Netflix) is about as strange a religious story as there is in the United States. On the other hand, it’s not very strange at all. The divisive nature of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (a name I would be okay never hearing again), the completely opposite stories told by the Rajneeshees and everyone else, and the weird, magnetic pull of the Bhagwan’s personality make this a compelling story. It’s salacious, with the (accurate) rumors of a sort of sex cult, but it doesn’t seem that the Bhagwan was all that involved in the sexual aspect of his commune, as you might expect a sex cult leader to be!

By Paul Koch

Sometimes it seems as if I’m living in some sort bizarre parallel universe, where the things I learned from my childhood, the things that have helped defined me up to this point no longer seem to matter. Or perhaps a better image would be that of a modern-day Rip Van Winkle. I often find myself wandering through my world, confused by what I see and unsure of how we got here. Perhaps I was asleep while everything was changing, or I didn’t keep up with times. Perhaps I didn’t really care. And now I’m at a loss to explain just what the hell is going on.

By Cindy Koch

Yesterday, you stepped right into the most emotional time of the year for any Christian; Praise songs and prayers, tears and guilt, suffering and death, celebrations and shouts for joy. The week leading up to Easter Sunday tells the epic story of our Lord Jesus Christ. The transition from happiness to despair in this single week leaves us exhausted, but also satisfied. This story is important. You can feel it.

By Tim Winterstein

It’s Holy Week, so what else would I be doing but watching two films about Jesus’ last few days? Two long movies. Two movies that inspired controversy and discussion and debate. Two movies that present two different Jesuses. And frankly, I don’t care if movies want to use different devices to try to understand the most divisive, explained, written-about person in history, Jesus of Nazareth. I have trouble understanding people who protest religious movies (or any movies for that matter). The only thing such protesting serves to do is draw attention and publicity to movies that might otherwise (and sometimes rightly) fade away into the oblivion of thrift-store DVDs. It is exactly for these sorts of protests that the phrase “all publicity is good publicity” was coined. Roger Ebert’s 4-star(!) review barely even touches the film itself, acknowledging “that this entire review has been preoccupied with replying to the attacks of the film’s critics, with discussing the issues, rather than with reviewing “The Last Temptation of Christ” as a motion picture.” (That, for Ebert, is a confirmation of the film’s greatness.)

By Paul Koch

On Tuesday, I read news that the last male northern white rhino had died. Named Sudan, the rhino is survived by two females, and while scientists have hope for in vitro fertilization to save the species, the outlook isn’t very promising. The head of the wildlife conservancy that was caring for Sudan had this to say, “It’s very sad to lose Sudan because it shows clearly the extent of human greed and what sort of impact humans beings can have on nature. If we don’t take care of what we have, we will definitely continue to lose it, particularly lose other species that are currently endangered.”

By Graham Glover

I spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill these days. Sometimes I interact with Members of Congress, other times their Staffers. A lot of time I just watch. But no matter who I’m talking to or what I’m observing, the one thing that is blatantly obvious, even to the political outsider, is how divided the people are who make up this place. While our institutions aren’t broken, our people clearly are, and it’s not getting any better.