The Time is Now

Aotearoa New Zealand is a second home to me - this is a gift, and a privilege, and I am so grateful for over two decades of relationship with beautiful Kiwi friends and family.

So my heart is sore for the pain that seems closer because I have loved ones nearby the events in Christchurch; but I'm also comforted because those same loved ones are exactly the kind of people who help heal and prevent further suffering.

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HOW THE OSCARS COULD HELP SAVE DEMOCRACY

ROMA is one of the greatest films ever made - a magnificent visual poem, centering an indigenous woman, and women generally, amidst the swirl of family and politics and power and service, repeatedly showing us, and asking us how to love.

GREEN BOOK is a well-intentioned, crisply crafted, well-acted story that can stir people to want to be kinder to each other; and its problem is not so much what it does, but what it doesn't do. It relegates the black gay marginalized character to the margin of its own story. It's not the Best Picture of the year.

So why did the conventional one win, and the masterpiece lose?

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EIGHTEEN FAVORITE FILMS OF 2018, AND OTHER STORIES

MUSIC I KEEP LISTENING TO

THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN

ANNIHILATION

FIRST MAN

SONG SOUNDTRACKS THAT WORK PERFECTLY

ROMA

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE

BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE, BROKEN MOVIE

Christian Bale (VICE)

Steve Carell (WELCOME TO MARWEN)

The Message Bird in EARLY MAN

BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE, NOT-QUITE-THERE MOVIE

Lucas Hedges in BOY ERASED

DRAMAS ABOUT REAL LIFE THAT ARE AS GOOD AS KRAMER VS KRAMER

COME SUNDAY

WHAT THEY HAD

COMIC DRAMA ABOUT A PERSON WHO PRETENDS TO BE SOMETHING SHE’S NOT IN ORDER TO KEEP A CAREER GOING, THAT’S ALMOST AS GOOD AS TOOTSIE

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

MOVIE THAT PRETENDS TO BE ABOUT A HEIST BUT IS REALLY ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS THAT TURNS OUT TO BE BETTER THAN HEAT

WIDOWS

BEST SCENES OF THE YEAR

Driving from inner city to the suburbs, in WIDOWS

I don’t know how to love him, in Spanish, at the La Règle du Jeu Christmas Party, in ROMA

Hugh Grant’s dance number in PADDINGTON 2

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN and Winnie the Pooh walking through a Terrence Malick field

The bracelet and the crater, in FIRST MAN

Vincent and the Priest, in AT ETERNITY’S GATE

TWO COMIC BOOK MOVIES THAT SAY SOMETHING MEANINGFUL ABOUT THE WORLD, STEP AWAY FROM LETHAL VIOLENCE AS THE ONLY SOLUTION, AND WERE SO ENTERTAINING AND WELL PUT-TOGETHER THAT THEY REMINDED ME OF RICHARD DONNER’S SUPERMAN

BLACK PANTHER

AQUAMAN

MORE THAN REWARDING

GREEN BOOK

A STAR IS BORN

PADDINGTON 2

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

CRAZY RICH ASIANS

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

DIDN’T GET A LOT OF ATTENTION, BUT REALLY, PLEASE, CONSIDER THESE

KEEP THE CHANGE

THE BOY DOWNSTAIRS

FILMWORKER

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

PUZZLE

PAPILLON

THE CHILDREN ACT

TALES FROM THE LIFE OF ARMISTEAD MAUPIN

TRIES REALLY HARD BUT HAS A MASSIVE FLAW THAT UNDERMINES EVERYTHING

THE THIRD MURDER - which wants to take crime and punishment seriously, and mercifully, yet depends on vengeance and doesn’t allow for the possibility of healing from/with trauma. Koreeda Hirokazu is probably my favorite director, and it’s a measure of his humanity that I imagine he’d not be offended by this characterization, but be open to the conversation.

BLACKkKLANSMAN - which makes the unfortunate mistake of portraying racism as a working class phenomenon, and suggests nothing has changed since the early ‘70s.

BEST EXPERIENCE IN A THEATRE

RYANS’ DAUGHTER at the Aero in Santa Monica - I was delighted to discover that on the big screen, what I had experienced on TV as a soap opera is actually an opera.

THE PIANO at the QFT in Belfast

HUGE REGRET

A WRINKLE IN TIME - made with heart, but a clear example of the absence of limitations being the death of creativity. Make it smaller next time.

EIGHT GREAT PERFORMANCES

9: Willem Dafoe in AT ETERNITY’S GATE

8: Bryan Cranston in ISLE OF DOGS

7: Hugh Jackman in THE FRONT RUNNER

6: Robert Forster in WHAT THEY HAD

5: Chloe Sevigny in LIZZIE

4: Kristen Stewart in LIZZIE

3: Cynthia Erivo in BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE

2: Rupert Everett in THE HAPPY PRINCE

1: Yalitza Aparicio in ROMA

FULL DISCLOSURE: MOVIES I HAVEN’T SEEN YET WHICH I SUSPECT MAY END UP ON THE REVISED VERSION OF THIS POST

EIGHTH GRADE

BURNING

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

PRIVATE LIFE

THE RIDER

MADELINE’S MADELINE

FIRST REFORMED

AND FINALLY, MY EIGHTEEN FAVORITE FILMS OF 2018

18: SHOPLIFTERS

17: THE FAVOURITE

16: THE WIFE

15: FIRST MAN

14: THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA

13: BLAZE

12: ISLE OF DOGS

11: SUMMER IN THE FOREST

10: LEAVE NO TRACE

9: LIZZIE

8: WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

7: ANNIHILATION

6: BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE

5: THE HAPPY PRINCE

4: BLINDSPOTTING

3: COLD WAR

2: AT ETERNITY’S GATE

1: ROMA

"US", "THEM", AND THE END OF VIOLENCE

Two years ago, Brian McLaren sat at our table, and with one simple sentence, changed both our lives:

"You know, we could write a short book about the myth of redemptive violence and how to transcend the destructive stories we're telling in the world."

I responded: "Why, yes, that sounds like a good idea."

But that's not what we did.

Instead, we went on a creative journey together with the extraordinary artist Heather Lynn Harris, and dreamed up two books about "Us", "Them", and the end of violence.

One is a picture book for kids and grown-ups, the other a book of essays.Both are about the six old stories humans have developed to bring peace and security, none of which work; and the seventh story, which starts working the moment you imagine it to be true. You can jump to find out more by clicking here right now.

We call the old stories the dominationrevolutionisolationpurificationvictimization, and accumulation stories; the seventh is the story of liberation and reconciliation.

The Seventh Story is not a sugar-coated story, although it does bring joy; it's not a religious belief, though it does invite us to experience spirituality and mystery; it faces reality, which means both the worst and the best things that are happening; it's for rich and poor, whole and broken, alienated and integrated, those who might consider themselves veterans of the spiritual journey and work for a fairer world, and those of us just starting out.

We're honestly more satisfied with this work than most anything either of us have written before; and more hopeful that it will help people.

So if you ...
- are tired of fighting, fleeing, or freezing,
- find yourself despairing at the "news" (which should really be called the "olds", given how much history repeats itself);
- sometimes struggle to get out of bed in the morning, and maybe even wonder if your best days are behind you (not to mention the planet's)...

We wrote these books for you. 

And we're writing to ask for your help. We've published the books through The Porch, and want to sell a substantial number of copies in the next week - if we're successful, it will help with our approach to others who might wish to share it in the future, and build a wider audience for what we feel is an important message. You can really help us by doing two things:

1: Order the book for yourself and loved ones. (Click on www.theseventhstory.com

2: Tell others! (Just forward this post with a personal note at the top.)

You can only get these books at www.theseventhstory.com - and for every purchase of the beautiful hardcover picture book Cory and the Seventh Storywe're giving away the e-book that outlines the foundational ideas, case studies, and examples of how people can step into The Seventh Story: Us, Them, and the End of Violence. (And we're committed to providing both books in electronic format to anyone who wants one, even if they can't afford to pay for it.) Just click here for more, and thank you.

There is a better story. We're here together to tell it.

COMING BACK TO LIFE

"How can we as individuals help our species make the shift to collective self-interest?" Or to put it another way, how can we live in the face of what sometimes seem like overwhelming odds?

The following guidelines were composed in 1990, by Joanna Macy and some German colleagues. They appear in her extraordinary book COMING BACK TO LIFE: PRACTICES TO RECONNECT OUR LIVES, OUR WORLD (co-authored with Molly Young Brown). I'm posting them with the invitation to anyone who is feeling weary of the bombardment of stories of suffering in the world, anxious about the future, or just wondering what we can do. There's more to say, but I would rather the wisdom in these guidelines lead. Here they are:

"1: Attune to a common intention. Intention is not a goal or plan you can formulate with precision. It is an open-ended aim: may we meet common needs and collaborate in new ways.

2: Welcome diversity. Self-organization of the whole requires differentiation of the parts. Each one’s role in this unfolding journey is unique.

3: Know that only the whole can repair itself. You cannot fix the world, but you can take part in its self-healing. Healing wounded relationships within you and between you and others is integral to the healing of our world.

4: You are only a small part of a much larger process, like a nerve cell in a neural net. So learn trust. Trust means taking part and taking risks, when you cannot control, or even see, the outcome.

5: Open to flows of information from the larger system. Do not resist painful information about the condition of your world, but understand that the pain you feel for the world springs from interconnectivity, and your willingness to experience it unblocks feedback that is important to the well-being of the whole.

6: Speak the truth of your experience of this world. If you have persistent responses to persistent conditions, assume that they are shared by others. Willing to drop old answers and old roles, give voice to the questions that arise in you.

7: Believe no one who claims to have the final answer. Such claims are a sign of ignorance and limited self-interest.

8: Work increasingly in teams or joint projects serving common aims. Build community through shared tasks and rituals.

9: Be generous with your strengths and skills - they are not your private property. They grow from being shared. They include both your knowing and your not-knowing, and the gifts you accept from the ancestors and all beings.

10: Draw forth the strengths of others by your own acknowledgement of them. Never prejudge what a person can contribute, but be ready for surprise and fresh forms of synergy.

11: You do not need to see the results of your work. Your actions have unanticipated and far-reaching effects that are not likely to be visible to you in your lifetime.

12: Putting forth great effort, let there also be serenity in all your doing; for you are held within the web of life, within flows of energy and intelligence far exceeding your own."