“A Dangerous Method” A PeaceBang Review

I had such high expectations for “A Dangerous Method” that I drove 45 minutes to see it. How could it miss!? Director David Cronenberg, a genius in directing films about the perversion in human minds and bodies, the brilliant Christopher Hampton — author of “Dangerous Liaisons” — penning the screenplay, and starring the impeccably cast Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen as Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud?

The problem with this film is structural. Although Hampton and Cronenberg had a rich universe of psycho-sexual, imaginal and mystical material to work with, they chose to tell the story in a strictly chronological, narrative fashion. The end result was, for me, an artistic betrayal of the subject matter in favor of a sedate drawing room drama with a skotsch of kink. As the film unfolds with scene after scene of people sitting at breakfast and talking, walking through gardens and talking, sitting in perfectly appointed studies and talking, it is left entirely to Keira Knightley, as the neurotic Sabina Spielrein, to deliver the sense of depth, passion and crazy innate to the human soul that Jung and Freud were trying to treat with their pioneering “talking cure.”

Perhaps another actress might have done a better job conveying the torments of a woman in the grip of hysterical neurosis than Knightley, but she is thoroughly unconvincing in the early scenes of the film, chewing scenery and contorting her mouth and hands to show her mental anguish. She might have been helped by some flashbacks or some directorial flourish to tell the story, but she, and we, are left only with her Extreme Emoting. She does her best, but Cronenberg and Hampton should be sued for artistic negligence.

Fassbender and Mortensen are wonderful in their scenes as Herr Doktor Freud and his disciple, playing out the archetypal drama of the Senex and Puer as they first become spiritual and professional father and son, then rivals, and finally enemies. Hampton contributes his best writing to these scenes and the two men generate enough psychic intensity through their performances to give us a sense of the enormity of this conflict both for them and for the field of psychoanalysis.

I quipped on the way home that I felt like dressing up in white petticoats, smoking a cigar and spanking Michael Fassbender. “A Dangerous Method” is a good-enough movie, but for those who know the work of Jung, Freud, Cronenberg and Hampton, it is bound to be a major disappointment.

Worship Resource

Oh, have I got a treat for you!!

Resources for Preaching And Worship Year A: Quotations, Mediations, Poetry and Prayers

Compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild

Westminster John Knox Press

You kin get it here!

Further supporting my argument that the Holy Spirit’s insistent ecumenical energy is working everywhere nowadays, this gorgeous resource (with the boring title, it must be admitted) includes readings and poetry from a variety of sources, many secular and even a few non-Western. It’s a little treasure trove, I’m telling you, and organized by Sundays in the lectionary year.

I picked it up in Oxford and here’s me reading it all the way home on the bus going, “OHMYGOD I LOVE this!” And “Oh, wow, what a great reading” and “MAN, this is so awesome” and all manner of American stupid utterances until the guy sitting across the aisle goes, “May I ask what it is you’re reading?” and I show it to him and he says, “Well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen better proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

It doesn’t look very sexy but I am loving it. Everything from Augustine to Oscar Romero to contemporary British women poets (lots of them, in fact). And lots of references to the arts, which of course speaks to my soul.



Welcome Back, Pigeons!!

The HILLS are alive, with the sound of PeaceBang!!

I abandoned this blog about two years ago so that I could focus on finishing my Doctor of Ministry degree. That mission is accomplished and I graduated on May 21 in a funny hat and with many beloved friends and parishioners present. Thank you for your expressions of support and congratulations throughout the process. I am now the proud owner of a big whomping dissertation called “Covenanting: Ancient Promise and New Life For the Contemporary Church” which I think deserves to be published but you know, I just don’t feel like doing the work to get it to publishers. Maybe later, after I’ve had a few beers and thrown some books down a flight of stairs to release the tension.

The Facebook and Twitter phenomena took off right after I stopped blogging here, so I have been carrying on a lively discussion over at Facebook (as PeaceBang), which I will continue to do. I love the discipline of having to condense my blatherings to a few pithy phrases, which means that I will be blogging here on a less frequent basis than I used to. As I remarked to a crowd of Unitarian Universalists earlier this week at our General Assembly workshop on ministry and social media, I am verbally manic, so this is a health practice for me. No, it really is. If not for all of you I might be in a rubber room somewhere pontificating to the walls.

So this blog will be for the lengthier blatherings. It will be for podcasts and for a nice long coffee or cocktail break, as opposed to the shots of espresso we’re all tossing back as we stand at the Facebook bar. The PeaceBang blog may occasionally even be as long as a dinner party or a retreat as we converse at luxurious lengths about issues facing the Church, the soul, the world, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 4,” or whatever tickles our fancy. I have such a ticklish fancy, as you know!

My dear friend and partner in crime, the Rev. Scott Wells, has continued to advise me and to construct this blog. I really couldn’t do this without him.