New Blogging Schedule & Tuesday Links

           babette2Warning: This post contains spoilers for the last episode of Breaking Bad.


 Happy October.

Beginning this month I’m doing something rather special. I’m going to start posting at least three times a week.


Up to now at the Talking Llama my writing has had a primarily negative focus. I’ve been looking mostly at issues of fundamentalism, dangerous theology, dangerous groups, and how we can be free of them.

But life isn’t all about that, and I want to start expanding the scope of my canvas. There’s a big world out there, and we were made to enjoy it.

The funny thing about anti­-fundamentalism is that after a while it starts to look an awful lot like fundamentalism. You can’t always define yourself by what you’re against. At some point you have to figure out what you’re FOR. And, in the next few months, that’s what I’ll be doing.

So here’s my new blogging schedule:


In my Sunday posts I’ll be combining my two main obsessions, contemplating popular culture, art, and entertainment from a sacramental perspective.

– This coming Sunday (October 6) I’ll be taking a look back at a wonderful TV series that is no longer with us.

– On October 13 I’ll be posting my third annual list of my 100 favorite pop songs, along with my favorite new songs from the past year.

– On October 20 I’ll be watching and reviewing the classic film Babette’s Feast. This will be my first time to watch it, so I’m really excited!



Blogging maintenance, housekeeping, and Links for the Week


Longer meditations on faith, art, life, spirituality

– This Thursday, October 3, I’ll be writing about Closed-Heartedness, the Root of Fundamentalism. Watch out for that!

– Next Thursday, October 10, we’ll be looking at Six Positive Things about Catholicism.

– Towards the end of the month I’ll be commemorating the one-year anniversary of the death of my friend Betania* and the breaking-up of the group she was a part of.


On Sunday night we bid farewell to what is quite possibly the greatest show in the history of television, Breaking Bad. In the subversive genius of its storytelling, the depth of its characterization, and its profoundly Christian moral vision, it was like a great novel playing out across five seasons.

I watched the finale on Sunday in a theater with about 200 other people. There was a sense of finality and vindication in the unfolding of that last hour. Everything went according to plan and the bad guys received their comeuppance. It was perfect… a little too perfect. I began to wonder if perhaps Walt had actually died at the end of the penultimate episode and what we saw in “Felina” were just the last images that flickered across his mind as he froze to death, alone, in his cabin.

Then someone pointed me to this New Yorker article in which Emily Nussbaum makes that exact argument. And here’s Ross Douthat of the New York Times explaining why he prefers that interpretation.

Finally, Todd VanDerWerff ponders the moral universe of Breaking Bad, and my friend Kendall Beachey examines the show’s harrowing and redemptive vision of good and evil. Here the writers discuss some of the alternate endings they considered. And check out this super-cool video essay on the unforgettable cinematography of the last half-season.

More links for this week:

“They’ve Got the Fear” (Anthony B. Susan)

These teenage girls have been in the news recently. They’re traveling the world performing exorcisms and waging war against the Forces of Darkness. Now they’re headed to England, where the popularity of Harry Potter suggests a national obsession with the occult.

They don’t seem to have considered that they might be the ones who are obsessed with the occult.

Fascinating story, and one that hits way too close to home.

“Slavery, Segregation, and Biblical Literalism, Continued” (Slacktivist)

Isn’t it interesting how some folks who claim to “take the whole Bible literally” will ignore whole passages that contradict what they think? Fred Clark explains how this happens:

“The white evangelical theology of biblical literalism is a device that functions to allow white evangelicals to claim a reverent devotion to biblical literalism while simultaneously refusing even to look at huge chunks and huge themes of the Bible. It is a mechanism that does exactly what it was designed to do: provide an excuse for ‘neglecting the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.’” Subversive and thought-provoking post.

“On Love & Control” (Identity Renewed)

My friend Teryn meditates on the nature of love and our habit of using love to control others. “Unlove comes when we force people to conform to OUR version of what we think they should be.” Love means embracing the other AS other. It’s not love if you have to change a person before you can accept them.

“Who are the Children of God?”

“If you can see the other as your sister or brother—

You are on your way to becoming a child of God.”

We’ve probably all heard people say, “Some people are children of God, and the rest of the world belongs to Satan.” In his own poetic and contemplative way, Brian Zahnd points us to the scandalous inclusiveness of Jesus’s message: a message that continues to surprise and offend. And he raises the all-important question, “Who is a true follower of Jesus?”

That’s all I have for this week. Please feel free to share your thoughts, links, concerns, and exultations in the comments!

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