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Gilmores Get Buddhist

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The most recent Gilmore Girls opened with Rory and Lane helping Mrs. Kim carry a large, golden Buddha into her house/antique shop. “Take down the crucifixes!” she hollered at Lane. This was all in preparation for Lane and Zach’s traditional Buddhist home wedding.

What? Is the Chinese food at Jack’s Pancake World polluting their brains? The Korean Kims are decidedly Christian, much to Lane’s frequent chagrin and occasional pride. But as we soon learn, Lane’s grandmother is coming to town and Mrs. Kim has never told her mother of her conversion. As Lane stuffs the crucifixes under the same loose floorboards that hide her Elvis Costello CDs, she marvels that at least two generations of Kim women have lives totally hidden from their hyper-critical, dogmatic mothers. When the eldest Kim arrives, dressed in a Mao-collared peasant dress, she fusses over Lane, speed-yells in Korean, and when Lane and Rory leave, mother and daughter lay down a towel and begin wildly prostrating in front of the Buddha.


Shocking stuff for those of us who have watched Mrs. Kim send Lane to Korean Bible camp, preach about values, and melt down when her daughter had male roommates. This thread continues when, after the short Buddhist ceremony (in which Lane and Zach wear elaborate traditional garb), grandma leaves abruptly in a cab and everyone else runs to the church for a second, Christian wedding. Minus the cringe-inducing moment just before the ceremony in which Mrs. Kim gravely warns a lace-covered Lane that she’ll “have to do it,” it’s a sweet ceremony with a dove-and-rainbow banner hung behind the pastor.

Later, when Mrs. Kim apologizes for the double wedding, Lane says, sincerely, that it actually made the day more special. Back in his “silky” Buddhist wedding gown, Zach says, “This is so comfortable, no wonder Buddhists are so peaceful.” Then Lane’s notoriously fun-proof mom promises to go home and put in earplugs (hinting at a generational healing; don’t-ask-don’t-tell is a step from hiding under the floorboards), beginning the real, booze- and rock-fueled reception; Lorelei removes the long skirt on Lane’s dress to reveal a tulle mini. Zach whoops, “My wife has legs!”

So does this continually well-written, funny, fast-talking show, with its respect, mockery, and deft narration of a surprisingly wide and subtle variety of realities and belief systems.


Alias Begins Its End, No Sign of Rimbaldi in Sight

posted by donna freitas

The best overall plot line for J.J. Abrams’s “Alias” has always been the mysteries surrounding Milo Rimbaldi, the 15th century apocalyptic philosopher-inventor, which was Arvin Sloane’s obsession for most of the first three seasons of the show and the cause of a good deal of espionage on the part of all the show’s characters. The infamous Rimbaldi is the creator of a multitude of precious objects and puzzles that have taken Sydney and company on countless Indiana Jones-like journeys in an effort to beat out other tomb-raiders as they attempt to retrieve Rimbaldi artifacts the world over. And of course, most interestingly of all, Rimbaldi is the author of the cryptic prophetic texts that supposedly ensnare Sloane’s daughter, Nadia Santos, Sidney Bristow, and possibly their mother Irina Derevko into their potentially catastrophic futuristic predictions.


Seasons four and five, unfortunately, dropped the Rimbaldi plot line for the most part, leaving the show without its original drive and the intensity of impending apocalyptic doom with Sidney at its heart. (Though the finale for season four was an all out sci-fi Rimbaldi related disaster a la Sloane who was back on the Rimbaldi wagon after having quit for a while.)

As Alias returned Wednesday night for its final episodes after a several months-long break (following the announcement it was being canceled), I hoped for a resurrection of Rimbaldi. Yet alas, it was still all Prophet Five (yet another anti-government conspiracy group that is after Sidney), with nary a mention of the longtime Rimbaldi mystery. The show’s earlier advertisements promised a return of favorite characters Will and Irina, which was encouraging, and Wednesday night’s episode indeed saw the return of Irina in full, ruthless, mama-agent glory, and as the mysterious leader of Prophet Five (could “prophet” refer to that prophet, as in that “Milo Rimbaldi Prophet”?).


I am holding out hope that as Irina is woven further back into the plot, we will also see a more explicit return of Mr. Rimbaldi, and ideally a resolution of what “The Prophecy” really has in store for Sidney Bristow once and for all (perhaps a Rimbaldi savior-like baby a la Sidney?). Only time will tell… and well, the last four episodes of the series itself.


Mary Magdalene, Superstar

posted by kris rasmussen

Mary Magdalene, the woman who according to some gospel accounts was one of the first followers of Jesus to encounter a risen Christ, has long been a much-debated biblical figure–and now she is about to become the star of her very own musical production. Though little information about Mary Magdalene’s background is actually found in the Bible, the musical, simply titled “Magdalene” takes creative license and focuses on Mary as a young girl in love whose life is forever altered when she becomes the victim of a violent sex crime. Set to tour nationally in 2007, the show was originally produced last year in Nashville at Grace Chapel for a limited engagement


Though contemporary Christian musicians Chris Easton and Michelle Pillar composed the music for the show, this musical aspires to go beyond being a Christian evangelical production celebrating the life of another Biblical character. The musical’s producers have partnered with the International Justice Mission to raise audience awareness of the issue of women being sold into sexual slavery–often referred to as sex trafficking.

While we certainly see more and more evidence of spiritual and social issues intersecting on the big screen, we still don’t see it happen nearly as often–much less with excellence–when it comes to theater. (New Yorkers, feel free to begin filling the comment box with proof to the contrary…. now.) So I am hoping that this musical will be a successful model for other similar productions–not to preach, but to thoughfully and creatively reflect on social issues and why they are also the spiritual matters of the soul.


End-Times for Christian Music?

posted by burb

To the Christian music fans in Kansas City, Denver, and Jefferson City, Indiana, who are still waiting to watch the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards show: your wait is not almost over. You have at least two more weeks before the syndicated broadcast of the ceremonies, held two weeks ago in Nashville, makes it onto your local schedule.

Now here’s the good news for the faithful. The reason the Pony Express could get you the Dove Awards faster than modern technology is that the Christian music industry is becoming less relevant every day. That is, when Carrie Underwood is cleaning up mainstream awards for her tearjerking “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and Alan Jackson’s gospel collection, “Precious Memories” climbs to the fourth spot on the all-genres Billboard 200 chart (today it’s down to #10), it’s a sign of the end of Christian music and the beginning of music that happens to be written and played by Christians. Isn’t that what Christian musicians and their fans have wanted all along?

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