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Highlights for September

‘Skin’ filmmaker shares story of real-life racism and the road to redemption

By Emily McFarlan Miller
Religion News Service

Jamie Bell stars in “Skin.” Photo courtesy of A24

Filled with sex, violence and profanity, it may not be the feel-good movie of the year.
And Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guy Nattiv is careful to note it’s not a redemption story.
But Nattiv’s new film, “Skin” — inspired by the true story of Bryon Widner’s departure from white supremacy — is, at its core, a story about good and evil and people’s capacity to change.
“I really wanted to tell a story that deals with forgiveness and acceptance,” Nattiv said.
It’s hard to ask people to forgive, the Israeli filmmaker said. But acceptance is a different matter. If you can’t accept someone who wants to leave hate behind, he said, you don’t give them a chance to change.
And Widner wanted to change.

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The Hudson River School romantics and the theology of landscape

By Dennis Raverty
“We are still in Eden; the wall that shuts us out is our own ignorance and folly” —Thomas Cole
Art history as it is currently practiced in both Europe and the United States is a very secularized field of study — and this is true even among those scholars who specialize in the European old masters, like Michelangelo or Rembrandt, artists who openly deal with sacred or biblical content directly.

“October in the Catskills” by Sanford Robinson Gifford. Photo/Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Nineteenth-century painters are said to have secularized Western art but it is perhaps more sacralization than secularization in the case of landscape. A minor, formerly profane genre, landscape became elevated and sacralized by the Romantics, taking on lofty themes with a high moral tone and a transcendent gravitas formerly reserved for religious painting alone. In the United States, these Romantic landscapists are often referred to as the “Hudson River School,” a Romantic tendency evident over the course of two or three generations of artists. After falling out of favor for a while, appreciation for Hudson River School painting increased dramatically during the postwar period, when the alienated, Romantic abstractions of artists like Pollock and DeKooning created a new appetite for the sublime.

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