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Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Film Review By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

In pursuit of his art and his love of freedom, artist and activist AI Weiwei has been a pain in the neck for Chinese authorities. When they have shut one door, he opens another like the clever and indomitable cat in the opening of this astonishing documentary directed by Alison Klayman. Winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, it also was featured as the opening night selection for the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in 2012.

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Love Free or Die

Film Review

Gene Robinson was elected bishop in the rural Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. As Christendom’s first openly gay bishop he received a lot of publicity as “the most controversial Christian in the world.” Robinson’s faith and courage have been tested every step of the way; he’s had to endure death threats and the hatred of Bible-waving fundamentalists who see him as the spawn of hell.In this edifying and enlightening documentary, winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, director Macky Alston provides an up-close and personal look at Robinson and an overview of the struggles and challenges he has faced in his pioneering ministry of hospitality, reconciliation, and understanding.Robinson has not had an easy time of it.

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As My Own Soul: The Blessing of Same-Gender Marriage

Ever wonder why marriage for same-gender couples generates such passion? Why is it so important to gay people? And why is it felt as an attack on “traditional” marriage by others? Writing accessibly for the general reader, author Chris Glaser narrows it down—first to taboos around sexuality, then to taboos around the sacred.

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Evolution of the Word:

The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written

the full-text of the New Testament—and one of the only Bibles organized in chronological order and including explanatory annotations that give readers a more informed understanding of the Scripture

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The Lost Gospel of the Earth:

A Call for Renewing Nature, Spirit and Politics

More timely and necessary than ever in the wake of recent calamities like Hurricane Katrina and the Republican war against the environment, The Lost Gospel of the Earth is legendary activist Tom Hayden’s eco-spiritual call for revamping traditional religious doctrine to reflect a greater environmental consciousness, which he believes is the only way to save the planet from catastrophe.

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Guns, Fear, and Power

Beyond the stats, beyond the grief, beyond the finger-pointing, beyond the “culture wars” lies the solution to eleven thousand deaths by gunfire per year in the United States.

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Imagining a Different World

I do not believe there is such a thing as a just war anymore, if there ever was one. Our weapons are too destructive and wars are seldom about territory or borders. They cannot be decisively won. Today wars are mostly about ideology and religion. They are about culture. Certainly we have not been winners in the last three wars which we have initiated and participated in. There are far more meaningful and sophisticated ways to deal with conflict today. We could do better if we developed different attitudes and skills at conflict resolution. It would also help if our leaders knew a little more about the history and cultures of the areas in which we get involved.

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SYRIA, POISON GAS, MISSILE STRIKES AND PEACE?

It has been both an emotional and a political roller-coaster. The television newscasters and the print media informed us that a political debate was underway as to whether or not the armed might of this country should be used to punish the Syrian government for violating the universal condemnation against chemical warfare that has governed the world since the horror of gas in the trenches in World War I. Pictures were released of small children, who had been the victims of sarin gas. The pictures were chilling. I enquired of a medical expert about the effects of sarin gas on the human body. He shuddered even to talk about it. His sentences were short and declarative. “It is deadly.” “There is no protection.” “Suffering is intense.” “Death is inevitable.” For almost one hundred years, despite brutal wars, both worldwide and local, with weapon enhancements like atomic power and cruise missiles, the prohibition against chemical warfare has still been generally adhered to by the nations of the world until this moment. Now the Syrian government has breeched this taboo, in an action widely believed to have been ordered by its president, Bashar al-Assad. I did not disagree with the official statement of facts and yet the debate itself struck me as deeply irrational.

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A Pessimist for Peace, And the Question of a Just War

Our nation is currently embroiled in a contentious debate over the Syrian regimeʼs alleged use of chemical weapons, and what should be the appropriate response by the U.S. and the international community. Public opinion polls comprising an odd coalition of liberal peace-nicks, a war weary citizenry and political antagonists who oppose in knee-jerk fashion most all of the Presidentʼs proposals, all suggest strong opposition to our countryʼs military involvement of any kind in yet another Middle East conflict. Regardless, the underlying question and dilemma remains. Is there a moral imperative to act? If so, how? What is the justification for a violent response to a deplorable, unjust and violent act?

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