Blade Runner, Criminalizing Youth, Confirmation Bias, and Remembering John Denver

Signs and Wonders

Blade Runner Redux. The long-anticipated sequel to “Blade Runner” is finally out in theatres, and the reviews are almost unanimously glowing, even from many Christian reviewers. For instance, WORLD’s Megan Basham writes, “Like its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 is often difficult to enjoy as traditional entertainment yet impossible not to marvel at.” She says the movie is full of biblical imagery and allusions, though they are set in an almost unrelentingly depressing world. That’s not unlike the original. It was surprising to me that the movie took in only about $32 million at the box office its first weekend. That was far short of the projected $50 million and a long way from the film’s $150 million production budget. That said, international sales were in line with expectations, and the reviews are so good that it will likely have a “long tail.”

Why So Many Criminals? Prison ministry and restorative justice have always been close to the heart of The Colson Center. That’s why I read with great interest this interview with Dr. Anthony Bradley. Among many interesting things, he says, “Our culture no longer relies on civil societal institutions as a way to mediate deviants and to deal with delinquency: The only thing we have left is law. . . . Today, in a lot of cities, we have policemen in schools, so acting out doesn’t lead to detention, it leads to arrest. When I was in school, if you stole a milk from the cafeteria, you would have to pay for it, you might get detention, or you might have to spend an hour in a room writing ‘I will not steal milk from the cafeteria’ on the chalkboard. Today, you get handcuffed and sent to jail.” He concludes: “We have lost the imagination for all of the other possibilities for dealing with deviance and delinquency.” He has much more to say, and I commend this interview to you.

Confirmation Bias. In journalism school, my professors taught me to “report against my bias.” In other words, great reporters look for sources that do not merely confirm what they think is true. They actively see out alternative views. “Confirmation bias” is a problem not just for journalists, but for all who listen only to those opinions with which they agree. My friend Peter Wehner writes beautifully and powerfully about confirmation bias in a recent New York Times column. The subject at hand is Donald Trump, but no matter your position on Trump, what he has to say about looking beyond “my truth” and “your truth” to get to the “true truth” (as Francis Schaeffer might say) is worth your time.

Remembering John Denver. John Denver died in a plane crash 20 years ago this week, on Oct. 12, 1997. I was always intrigued by John Denver, in part because he often dealt with spiritual themes in his music, though too often from a New Age perspective. Still, many of his family members, including his first wife, Annie, were Christians. A few years ago, I tracked down his family’s pastor and reported on one of the last conversations John Denver had about his ultimate spiritual destiny. The conversations I had reporting that story were at times frustrating and unsatisfying, but ultimately fascinating, and you can read about them here.

Image copyright Columbia Pictures. 


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