PtW XIV: A New Hope

Welcome to the final episode of Picturing the Word!

Our curriculum this week was themed “Redemption.”

We watched:

La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc) (Dreyer, 1928)

Offret (The Sacrifice) (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986)

The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994)

Mildly adhering to the theme of Redemption, John and I explore the topics of both loyalty and hope as they relate to the lives of heroes and saviors in this curriculum. We wonder about the importance of loyalty, particularly the occasional conflict of loyalty to people and loyalty to ideas. We then begin thinking about the necessity of hope for a hero, and finally reflect upon the object of a hero’s hope.

This episode concludes a 14-week project that John and I are privileged to have been a part. With the conclusion of the podcast also comes the conclusion of our wonderful class and of both John’s and my undergraduate education. We are simultaneous ready to go and yet quite sad to leave, and through it all, overwhelmingly thankful for the excellent education we have both received at the Torrey Honors Institute and Biola University.

As always, we would love your comments and questions. Comment below or email John and I at .

Happy listening! ‘

Know Thyself

Welcome to Podcast 13! This is the second to final podcast of the series and John and I are having a hard time believing that our undergraduate education is almost at an end.

Our curriculum this week was part 2 of the theme “Sacrifice.”

We watched:

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (Richard Marquand, 1983)

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003)

“Doctor Who” (Utopia / Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords 3.11–13)


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Not unusually, this week we totally ignored the curriculum theme and instead decided to focus on how self-identity and knowing the self pay a role in the success of a hero and the failure of a villain. John and I journey through the identity-discovery of Harry Potter and also think about our own personal experiences, reflecting on the past four years of life at Biola.

As always, we would love your comments and questions. Comment below or email John and I at .

Happy listening! ‘

Getting Outside the Box

Hello again! Welcome back. We only have a few weeks left and Danielle and I are excited to broaden our discussion beyond some of the texts and movies we’ve been watching and hope you find it interesting as well.

This past week we watched:

Superman Returns

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

“The Lazarus Experiment” from Dr. Who (3.06)

“Cataclysmo and the Battle for Earth,” a web serial by our very own Josh Sikora available at

We also read the final chapter and epilogue of the graphic novel Kingdom Come.

In this podcast, we look at the relationship between heroes and villains and wonder if you need a great villain for a great hero. When we look at heroes and villains, heroes have a unique way of approaching the world compared to their counterparts (beyond standing for truth and justice and the American way). Danielle and I discuss the difference between the 3D thinking of heroes and the flat, 2D thinking of villains. Finally, we look past heroes and villains and consider when (and how) we should think outside the box (like heroes often do).

As always, Danielle and I would love to hear from you. You can reach us at or comment below.

Thanks for listening! Enjoy the podcast. ‘

There and Back Again: A Savior’s Tale

Welcome to Podcast 11!

Our curriculum this week was aptly themed “A Strange Visitor.”

We watched:

Wall•E (Andrew Stanton, Pixar, 2008)

Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964)

The Terminal (Steven Spielberg, 2004)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)

“Doctor Who” (Human Nature / The Family of Blood 3.08–09)

We read:

Superman: Peace on Earth

This was an unusual week for us—almost everything we watched was a stand-alone film, unrelated (at least in character and story) to the rest of our curriculum. Even so, I immensely enjoyed the films we viewed this week, and have come away with a deeper respect for Mary Poppins than I ever thought I could have.

We begin the podcast by discussing who the strange visitor is—what his or her role is in the story. This leads us to think about the supporting character of Mr. Banks and his role in relation to Mary Poppins. Finally, we begin to discuss distinction between a hero and a savior.

As always, we would love your comments and questions. Comment below or email John and I at .

Happy listening! ‘

Is the Character of a Man His Fate?

Hello again!

We are excited that you are joining us again! Danielle and I are enjoying the conversations we are having after class. We only have a few weeks left and are looking forward to sharing our thoughts with all of you.

This past week we watched:

The Emperor’s Club

Amistad (Danielle and I would like to both caution you if you plan on watching Amistad. It contains scenes depicting the brutality of the slave trade. It is not a movie to watch casually.)

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Doctor Who: “The Shakespeare Code” and “Gridlock” (3.02-3.03)

We also read the comic book Superman: Peace on Earth.

In this podcast, we discuss three main questions. The theme of the week was “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” We attempt to define the “American Way” and discuss the way an “American hero” looks. We then turn to wonder how much slack we are willing to give a hero—because someone is a hero, do we overlook their morally reprehensible actions? This leads us to ponder the difference between a hero and heroic actions. Finally, we ask whether the character of a man is determined by his fate.

At the end of the podcast, we mention that the music you heard at the end is from The Emperor’s Club. Unfortunately, we had technical difficulties and both the introductory and concluding music is from Amistad.

If you have any thoughts or are interested in a campus tour, we’d love to hear from you!

Comment below or send us an email at

Happy listening! ‘

Pursuing the Impossible Dream

Welcome to Podcast 9!

Our curriculum this week was themed “The Never-Ending Battle.”

We watched:

Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick, 1960, PG-13)

Braveheart (Mel Gibson, 1995, R)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Peter Jackson, 2002, PG-13)

“Doctor Who” (Army of Ghosts / Doomsday 2.12–13)

We read:

Kingdom Come (Chapter 3—Up in the Sky)

Batman: War on Crime

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien

Needless to say, it was a very long week.

We begin the podcast by discussing the question: does a hero need to believe in the impossible in order to be a hero? This question then makes us wonder if Heroes are necessarily foolish people—remember that a hero frequently has an impossible quest that only a fool would dare try to complete. We then turn to thinking about characters like William Wallace and Spartacus and ask if heroes need to have a vendetta to inspire action? And finally, in light of a hero frequently taking up an impossible and generally highly dangerous quest, it is morally acceptable for a hero to ask for followers?

As always, we would love your comments and questions. Comment below or email John and I at .

Happy listening! ‘

“Like Any Story Worth Telling, This Story is About A Girl”–The Role of Gender in the Hero Myth

Danielle and I both realized over the course of this class that questions about gender range from absurd to non-existent. Questions such as “Are you saying that a woman is worth less than a military conquest!?” prompted Danielle and I both to believe that questions concerning relationships, ideals of beauty, and ideals of love were worth more attention. These questions have crept into our curriculum, but haven’t been addressed in class discussion.

In this podcast, we discuss the ideals of femininity and masculinity, and discuss the American conception beauty. Finally, Danielle and I ask if we’re comfortable with these definitions, stereotypes, and ideals.

With that said, welcome to the gender podcast! Don’t worry: Danielle and I don’t say crazy things. Well, she doesn’t say crazy things. In all seriousness, though, we hope you enjoy the discussion. Let us know your thoughts in the comments or at

Happy listening! ‘

Secret Identities—Necessary but Wicked?

Welcome to Podcast 7—“The Superman”

Appropriately, this week we were to view Passion movies and think about the ultimate Superman we find in the character of Christ.

We watched:

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (William Wyler, 1959)

Jesus (John Krish & Peter Sykes, 1979)

The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson, 2004)

The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988) (Please note that this film is rated “R” for good reason. It takes several artistic (and sacrilegious) liberties).

In this podcast, John and I start by picking up the thread of conversation from last week concerning Batman pretending to be a villain at the end of Dark Knight in order to allow Gotham to continue to have hope for themselves—to hide for the greater good. We contrast the hidden identities of most heroes with Christ’s relative openness about his identity, and wonder if and how much Heroes should hide their identity. Having a secret identity seems to be the only safe and efficient way for a hero to live. If this seems utilitarian to you, well, it seems utilitarian to us too. Finally we look at the utilitarian nature of Pilate’s impossible choice and wonder if he is wicked or simply unlucky.

As always, we would love your comments and questions. Comment below or email John and I at .

Happy Easter and happy listening! ‘

(Side)Kicking It With Jesus

Hello! And welcome back to our podcast. Danielle and I hope you’re enjoying our discussion. We’d love to hear what you think! You can comment below or email us at

This past week we watched:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell, 2005)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)

The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

“Doctor Who” (Rise of the Cyberman / The Age of Steel [2.05-2.06]; The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit [2.08-2.09])

We also read the “Fall” chapter of Superman for All Seasons.

In our podcast, Danielle and I discuss this week’s theme of “Coming Out of the Light,” and examine the dark periods that Heroes often undergo. This idea  of “Hero Darkness” leads John and I to ask if someone can be a “bad” hero? In the case of Batman, for instance, is he a flawed hero for becoming Gotham’s “Dark Knight”? Lastly, we move to discussing the role of sidekicks, which finally received the needed attention in class.

Next week we’re looking at Passion movies: Passion of the Christ, The Jesus Movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Ben Hur.

Happy Listening! ‘

Dreams Denied! A Hero’s Sacrifice

Welcome to Week 5 of Picturing the Word!

This week in class we watched movies and read books with the theme “I Offer You A Change At Greatness.”

We watched:

Star Trek (2009)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Superman II (1980)

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

We also read:

Chapter 2 of the comic book Kingdom Come

This week John and I ponder the question of whether or not Heroes are allowed to have dreams and desires of their own. Because Heroes have such a clear calling (given the gifts and talents they have been allotted), we wonder if heroes are morally obligated to give up any desires of their own (desires for a lover, for an alternate career, for a “normal” life, etc.). It seems to us that heroes are required to live a lonely life if they are to be effective heroes.

As always, please feel free to join our conversation by commenting below or emailing John and I at

Happy listening! ‘