Good Omens, Everyday Life, and Romans 7

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I just finished watching the Amazon Prime original Good Omens. Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pritchard, the miniseries (can we still call them that?) tells the tale of Mankind. Angels. Demons. The antichrist. Choice. Nature. Nurture. Identity.

Like the best of all tales, no one seems quite sure who they’re supposed to be.

In Gaiman and Pratchad’s tale of humanity, no one is quite sure they want to play the prescribed role. No one seems quite sure who they’re supposed to be. No one seems quite sure who they want to be. And that’s the beauty. The good and the bad wrestle. Sometimes it seems like the good is winning. But not always. It’s reminiscent of Paul’s lament in Romans 7 when he groans:

“I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

In Good Omens, Angels are willing to bend the rules. Demons are willing to help. And the AntiChrist decides he doesn’t want to usher in total annihilation.

It’s a tale for the ages. And it’s a tale about all of us. It’s like Lemony Snicket says in The Grim Grotto:

“People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.”

We may not have the ability to perform miracles. Or usher in Armageddon. But we can help determine what kind of world we want to live in. We can decide what kind of person we want to be. How will we treat those around us? What story will those left behind tell of us? What happens when we question the side we’ve chosen? To what are we predestined and of what is free will and does it really matter where the difference might be?

Good Omens forces us to consider that human nature is more complicated that many well-intentioned theologians would have us believe. People aren’t all bad or good and sometimes it takes quite a sorting-through. That’s the process of sanctification. That’s the process of discovering what it means to be truly human; made in the image of God.

Watch the trailer here:

They Will Have to Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile

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In honor of Songhoy Blues’ Tiny Desk Concert, let’s take a look at a movie profile originally posted at the Global Elite Music Radio Podcast Supershow’s site on July 11, 2018.

Islamic Extremist/Jihadists seized control of Northern Mali in 2012. The imposed a brutal regime of extremist Sharia Law. All forms of music were banned. Instruments were burned, radio stations were demolished and musicians faced torture and even death. 

But Mali has a deep musical heritage. 

Though many musicians became part of a Malian diaspora, fearing for their lives, they continue to shine a light on injustice through their music. This film chromicles the continued struggle for and power of music. Director Johanna Schwartz says: "I remember very clearly reading about what was happening. I couldn’t imagine a world without music, especially in a place where music was so vital to everyday life. I began to plan my trip to Mali almost immediately."

The Guardian says:

“Director Johanna Schwartz’s documentary, clearly made with devotion over several years, unpacks how several different Malian musicians struggle to survive the privations and strains of civil war, and especially their grief and horror over the way jihadist rebels banned all music-making the north of the country.”

  • Visit the film's official website

  • Purchase or rent the movie at Amazon

Zerzura Trailer

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From the Sahel Sounds Facebook page:

“Zerzura, the feature length Saharan acid Western is now available for streaming on Vimeo. Starring Madassane Ahmoudou (Mdou Moctar / Les Filles de Illighadad) Zerzura follows a young man from a small village in Niger on a surreal journey across the Sahara, crossing paths with djinn, bandits, gold seekers, and migrants, in search of an enchanted oasis. A collaborative project, featuring all original guitar score.”

The website says:

“After a year of work, we’ve finally wrapped up our feature film Zerzura. A collaboration between Sahel Sounds and the nascent Imouhar Studio(an all purpose film/music studio in Agadez, Niger), the film is a magical journey through the Sahara, following protagonist and guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane in search for a lost city of riches. Along the way he encounters nomads, djinn, bandits, and gold seekers – a nod to our docu-realist approach to the film. While the concept of a lost desert city film has been kicking around for years, Zerzura was written, produced, and filmed entirely on location. Scenes were done in single takes, sometimes completely improvised.”’

Watch the trailer:

  • Watch the movie at Vimeo for $5.00.