A Lenten MacGuffin Served with Some Greeks

There’s a mysterious briefcase in Quentin Tarantino’s violent, vibrant Pulp Fiction (1994). Some characters wanted it. Some characters had it. Sometimes we (the viewer) observed the case was shut. Sometimes, it’s wide open, but the contents weren’t visible. In the film’s story, there was little doubt the briefcase mattered. People were killed. Lives threatened. When unlatched, the inside emitted an ethereal glow.

But then the viewer sees . . .


There were more important scenes than the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Even if you haven’t watched or can’t stand the movie, trust me, it’s rightly considered a classic. Tarantino manipulated chronology with the script (kairos vs. kronos time, anyone?), John Travolta’s career was resurrected, and the film’s impact gave noir cinema a modern twist and shout.

But the viewer . . . never saw inside that briefcase. What was there? In a sense, the briefcase contained a MacGuffin.

Huh? Continue reading →

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Lent, Ophidiophobia, and Wounds

I’ve never been bitten by a snake.

I’ve seen snakes. No, I’m not counting any zoo sightings. I’m referring to riding a bike along a sun-dappled path, hiking a trail through a jumble of boulders, and even a few times around my local suburbs. Yep . . . seen ‘em, nearly stepped on ‘em, and have gladly circled wide of many short and long, still or slithering snakes.

But I don’t fear the creepy, crawlies like the fictional Indiana Jones. Don’t label me with ophidiophobia! Continue reading →

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Lenten Anger About Anger

Anger is a tornado in the human soul.

Roiling within us, like warm moist air, are memories of past mistakes and a host of personal beliefs and biases. On the outside, from the imagined thoughts or real injuries from another person or situation, flows the cool, dry air. Over years, or in a splintered second, the dry wind swirls with that inner moist air and . . .


Police and civil rights activists clash, fire hoses spraying, dogs lunging at the end of leashes.

The national guard, all young, grasping weapons, form lines on a college campus. They face the rebellious students, all young, their clenched fists raised in the air. A storm of bullets is released.

21st century Nazis march, in polo shirts and jeans. Some have, not long before, serviced someone’s car or managed a portfolio. But how skewed their hateful views are about our nation’s past and today’s diverse culture. They clash with others that also earn a paycheck and yet possess a different, more complex version of history and society. They are last year’s Charlottesville and this year’s looming headline. Continue reading →

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