The Jerrys attend to Joe and 22 in The Great Before.

There’s a scene in Pixar’s latest movie Soul where Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a struggling middle school music teacher, steps out of a jazz club after one of the most triumphant moments of his life and realizes he doesn’t feel the way he thought he would. He’s just performed with Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett), fulfilling his life-long goal to “make it” as a professional musician.

“I’ve been waiting on this day for my entire life,” he says. “I thought I’d feel different.”

Dorothea, a popular saxophonist, and leader of her own jazz quartet, observes Joe sympathetically and then tells him…


The Mouth of Sauron — Lord of the Rings
The Mouth of Sauron — Lord of the Rings

In my opinion, a scene cut from The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King is one of the greatest scenes in what is arguably the world’s greatest-ever film trilogy. The three-minute clip finds Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, Merry, and Eomer facing off with Sauron’s spokesperson in a pre-determinedly futile attempt to avoid another battle and get the Dark Lord to surrender and abandon his quest for domination.

The Mouth, blackened and diseased, greets Gandalf, declaring, “I have a token I was bidden to show thee.” …


It was gonna happen sooner or later. I took the dive and went to see TENET, the most anticipated and talked-about movie of this long decade known as 2020. And for a year which seems to be excessively fraught with crisis and existential tragedy, there doesn’t seem to be a more prescient film that one could want to see. Perhaps a better word would be “experience,” for that is what it’s like to watch TENET, or any Nolan film. You can’t merely watch it, you must experience it. Or, as a scientist tells John David Washington’s character in the beginning…


Chadwick Boseman speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for “Black Panther”
Chadwick Boseman speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for “Black Panther”
Chadwick Boseman speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for “Black Panther”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. (Credit: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons)

Last Saturday morning, I woke up, picked up my phone and checked my notifications. A few hours earlier, my sister had sent me a link to a news story: Chadwick Boseman had died after secretly fighting colon cancer for four years.

It took a few hours for it to sink in that we are living in a post-Boseman world. He was only 42.

When someone whom a majority of the population would recognize as having significant impact dies, I purposefully don’t spend time reading news about their passing or scrolling the outpouring on social media about their death. It’s not…


Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Credit: Marvel Studios)

In the run-up to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s seventh and final season this year, I committed myself to re-watching the entire show from start to end, over 120 episodes. It hasn’t been a chore at all. I genuinely love the show; and it’s the only series I’ve ever tried to re-watch all the way through. (I suppose a global pandemic and an international lockdown have conspired to help me find time to do this. See? Silver lining after all.)

I’ve been a fan from the beginning when Phil Coulson and Grant Ward showed up as stereotypical “men in black” outside Skye’s…


Photo by C. Ryan Patterson (Flickr, Public domain)

The movement to tear down monuments of Confederate leaders in America’s South has continued apace over the past few years and has been given renewed energy in the aftermath of protests following the killing of George Floyd.

Supporters of this movement often point to Germany as an example for the U.S. to follow. World War II had barely ended when the Allies banned the display of the swastika and other Nazi symbols. West Germany enshrined the ban in law in 1949. Nazi officials were buried in unmarked graves, and any statues in their honor were torn down.

Not so in…


A day before our nation marked its independence from Great Britain for the 244th time, indie folk/rock artist Sufjan Stevens released “America,” the first single off his upcoming album, The Ascension.

While listening under the collective mental cloud of a global pandemic and national protests for racial and social justice, it’s impossible to overlook the song’s visceral message. But “America” wasn’t written in the present milieu. Sufjan penned the words to the song six years ago while making Carrie & Lowell. He said in a statement released by his label:

I was dumbfounded by the song when I first wrote…


The delay of artistic expression buys into the notion that everything will go back to “normal” — which is not what we want.

Lynn Gunn in the music video for PVRIS’ “Dead Weight”
Lynn Gunn in the music video for PVRIS’ “Dead Weight”
Lynn Gunn in the music video for PVRIS’ “Dead Weight” (Credit: YouTube)

Way back in March 2020, I was stoked to realize that PVRIS, one of my favorite rock bands, would be releasing their third full-length album on May 1st.

As the coronavirus turned into a global pandemic, May 1st came and went with an announcement that Use Me’s release would be delayed until July 10th. I was disappointed, but I understood that the music industry, like so many others, was being disrupted by the unforeseen. …


White people who engage in crass, public, performative acts make themselves look foolish — and it’s not what black people want

Dan Cathy at Passion City Church (Credit: YouTube screenshot)
Dan Cathy at Passion City Church (Credit: YouTube screenshot)
Dan Cathy at Passion City Church (Credit: YouTube screenshot)

Two weekends ago, I was browsing Facebook — terrible habit; don’t recommend — when I saw a post highlighting The Babylon Bee’s article titled, “Chick-Fil-A Now Open On Sunday But Only For Black People.” I chuckled. It was a cringey, par-for-the-course, over-the-top take, something I was not surprised to see The Bee had put out.

Apparently, however, I should have been shocked. …


Jonathan Steingard (Credit: Rick Diamond, Getty Images for KLOVE)
Jonathan Steingard (Credit: Rick Diamond, Getty Images for KLOVE)
Jonathan Steingard (Credit: Rick Diamond, Getty Images for KLOVE)

Last month, Jon Steingard, lead vocalist for the Christian rock band Hawk Nelson, revealed that he no longer believes in God. His revelation is the latest in a long line of well-known individuals who have publicly walked away from the Christian faith. Not to mention the even longer line of those raised in the Church who, according to statistics, cease attending church or abandon their faith as young adults.

Steingard wrote a lengthy Instagram post describing how he came to his decision after years of doubt and unanswered questions (or questions answered insufficiently). I can identify with much of his…

Daniel Whyte IV

Scifi/fantasy nerd pretending to be serious by writing about culture + faith. Signal booster for common sense, objectivity, and humor. | http://danielwhyte4.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store