Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Denzel Washington's Interview on the Film "Macbeth"


Actor Denzel Washington stars alongside Frances
McDormand in Joel Coen’s new film version of Macbeth

Dec 7, 2021

The Tragedy of Macbeth - Official Trailer (2021)
Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand
Sep 21, 2021

Explaination of Shakespeare Macbeth

* * * * * * *

Denzel Washington: ‘In heaven there are two
lines. I’m interested in being in the short one’

Denzel Washington photographed by Dana Scruggs/New York Times

When Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand began rehearsing to play the Macbeths, he asked her how she thought the couple had met. Oh, she replied blithely, the Macbeths met when they were 15. They were Romeo and Juliet, but they didn’t take their own lives. They just stayed married for 50 years. But they didn’t have any kids and his career stalled, so, thinking legacy, they suddenly went gangster and killed their nice, old friend, the king.

“This is one of the only good marriages in Shakespeare,” says Joel Coen, who adapted and directed The Tragedy of Macbeth, which opens just after Christmas. “They just happen to be plotting a murder.”

James Shapiro, a Shakespeare scholar at Columbia University, backs up the director, adding dryly, “But there’s not much competition, is there? The Capulets? Richard II and his nameless queen? Richard III and the doomed widow, Anne?”

Coen and McDormand, who are married and who met on the Coen brothers’ debut feature, the 1984 film noir Blood Simple, have teamed up with Washington to do another noir, the Scottish saga of “Blood will have blood.”

Denzel Washington. Photograph: Dana Scruggs/The New York Times

As in all film noirs, the guy is a sap and the lady is trouble. Lady Macbeth pushes her husband into killing Duncan by taunting him about his manhood. When you watch McDormand – who defied all Hollywood odds to became a soaring star in middle age, specialising in playing women who, as she puts it, “are not necessarily redeemable” – you absolutely believe she has the will for regicide.

Mirroring the plot of Macbeth, McDormand pestered her reluctant husband until he gave in and agreed to direct the movie – without his (also reluctant) brother, Ethan, no less.

“Frances McDormand is a beast,” Washington says, admiringly. A few weeks into filming, she asked her leading man if she had earned the right to call him D, as some close to him do. “Sure,” he replied. Coen was amazed at what it was like to work with the pair, an old-school Hollywood match-up of titans. “They are such powerful, intuitive and fascinating performers,” he says. “You were just floored by what happened on the set.” He shot in a square “academy” format, so it’s all about the faces of Washington and McDormand filling the frame.

I’m more interested in directing because I’m more interested in helping others. What I do, what I make, what I made – all of that – is that going to help me on the last day of my life? It’s about, Who have you lifted up? Who have we made better?

“The three of us are at the top of our game,” McDormand says. “Denzel’s 66. I’m 64. Joel is 67. We’re still taking risks. We’re still willing to fall flat on our faces. Working with Denzel was delicious because of all those things.” It was a tricky artistic three-way. She says her husband had to trust that “Denzel and I weren’t going to gang up on him as actors”, and Denzel had to trust that she and Joel “weren’t going to be too intimate as husband and wife”.

Over coffee at a midtown Manhattan hotel, the morning after the movie’s premiere at the New York Film Festival, Washington looks casual in black Under Armour sweats but seems beat. He says he has had very little sleep. He has just put the final touches on a film he directed, A Journal for Jordan, the true story of the romance between Dana Canedy, a former New York Times reporter and editor, and Sgt Charles Monroe King, a soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, after meeting their infant son only once. It stars Michael B Jordan and Chanté Adams, and opens in Ireland in late January.

“It’s just a beautiful story of loss and love,” Washington says, “a story about real heroes and sacrificing, men and women who have given their lives so that we have the freedom to complain.” (The star, who has played a policeman more than a dozen times, recently made similar comments of respect for cops who put their lives on the line.)

He says that before his 97-year-old mother died, a few months ago, he promised her that he would “attempt to honour her and God by living the rest of my days in a way that would make her proud. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”

“I’m more interested in directing because I’m more interested in helping others,” he says. “What I do, what I make, what I made – all of that – is that going to help me on the last day of my life? It’s about, Who have you lifted up? Who have we made better?

“This is spiritual warfare. So I’m not looking at it from an earthly perspective. If you don’t have a spiritual anchor, you’ll be easily blown by the wind and you’ll be led to depression.” Sounding like his father, a Pentecostal minister who died in 1991 – “That’s what got my father, he couldn’t give up the meat and fried foods” – Washington asks me: “Have you read the Bible? Start with the New Testament, because the Old Testament is harder. You get caught up in the who-begot-who-begot-who thing.”

If they see you free all week, they won’t pay to see you on the weekend. I don’t tweet. I don’t have Instagram. I embrace my inner analogue

He says he wants to mentor young actors like Jordan, Adams and Corey Hawkins, who did an acclaimed turn as Dr Dre in Straight Outta Compton, and now plays Macduff, the lord who beheads Macbeth.

Washington talks about working with Chadwick Boseman last year on his final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Even before he met Boseman, Washington had agreed to Phylicia Rashad’s request to help pay the young actor’s tuition, along with eight other students at Howard University, to go to a summer acting programme in England.

“He was a brave young man, strong, and he had a strong woman next to him,” Washington says. “Once, I remember going in the trailer and thinking, Something is going on there. I didn’t know what it was. Nobody did. Bless him. He kept it to himself and did his job. But he needed the time between takes to get his energy back.”

Hawkins says that he sometimes prayed with Washington on the Macbeth set in Burbank, California. “Sometimes we get talking, and you see the preacher in him,” the younger actor says. “He’s just a natural-born charismatic leader who is not afraid to talk about his own faults or misgivings or shortcomings.”

Washington was eager to go to directing school under Coen, saying, “Joel is just a genius, focused.” Alex Hassell, a British actor who plays a Scottish royal, Ross, as a “sexy Rasputin”, says Washington often pressed Coen to explain his technique. “Denzel would be asking, ‘Why this? Why that?’ He was so excited to get to work with Joel.” Hassell says Washington could go so “deep in his cortex” that watching him was hypnotic, and he would sometimes forget to act.

“I’d be like, ‘Oh my God, oh, hang on. I was supposed to be there as well.’ It might have just been him coming out of a tent. There is some quality that some people have which you just want to bottle.”

I read Washington a quotation from Maya Angelou: “Denzel Washington appears to me a classical contradiction,” she said in the March 1994 issue of Ebony magazine. “He is totally contained as a vault of rare gems and is as totally accessible as air.”

I don’t know what Hollywood thinks. It’s not like it’s a bunch of people who get together on Tuesdays

He smiles, saying: “Beats a sharp stick in the eye, I guess.” I wonder how he maintains an air of mystery in this oversharing era. “If they see you free all week, they won’t pay to see you on the weekend,” the star says. “I don’t tweet. I don’t have Instagram. I embrace my inner analogue.”

I tell Washington he is so peerless at speaking Shakespearean verse in a conversational way that he could be the love child of John Gielgud and Spencer Tracy. “That’s 45 years of training,” he says. When he was growing up in Mount Vernon, New York, a mentor told him: “Your natural ability will only take you so far.” With that in mind, after playing Othello at Fordham, he started searching for a school that would give him a foundation in the classics and ended up attending graduate school at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

“The whole thing with Joel and Fran was they wanted ‘No stick-up-the-butt Shakespeare,’” Washington says. They wanted “dope Shakespeare,” Hawkins adds. Todd Black, Washington’s producing partner, who worked with him on the movie versions of August Wilson’s Fences and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, says, “His whole thing with young people is ‘Don’t act.’ He will stop an audition cold and say, ‘You’re acting, please don’t act.’ He always checks their resumes to see if they’ve done theatre.”

I ask Washington if Hollywood had become more diverse after #OscarsSoWhite. “Hollywood is a street,” he says. “I live in Los Angeles. I don’t live in Hollywood. I don’t know what Hollywood thinks. It’s not like it’s a bunch of people who get together on Tuesdays.”

Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Photograph: Alison Cohen Rosa/A24

When the New York Times’s movie critics put Washington atop their list of the greatest 25 actors of the 21st century (so far), Manohla Dargis said that his dominance “is a corrective and rebuke to the racist industry in which he works”.

“Okay,” he says, chuckling, when I ask him about it. “You know, put the work out there and then people decide it’s this, it’s that.” There were some who thought that, after the Black Lives Matter protests, having a black Macbeth would cause the play to resonate in a different way. At the start Washington asked Coen about the black and white of it all. But it turned out he was just asking the director whether he was going to film in black and white. Washington believes that if you look at everything through the lens of a political agenda, you lose the plot as an artist.

The director and his stars wanted to make a Macbeth that was universal, not topical. McDormand tells me she was not interested in modern interpretations of Macbeth as an emblem of toxic masculinity or in correcting the stereotype of Lady Macbeth as a harridan. “It’s banal” to make Shakespeare politically correct, she sniffs. “It’s bigger than that.” But the casting still makes a difference.

A fan approachs Hawkins to tell him how amazing it was to see two black actors, representing good and evil – Macduff and Macbeth – in the final, searing sword battle on a bridge.

Coen goes for abstraction and chiaroscuro in the movie. Besides removing colour, all the costumes and sets are stripped of ornamentation. The gray gloaming and hallucinatory mists envelop a spare and savage landscape, with the witches shape shifting into three black birds.

The disorienting first scene features the whispery, scratchy voice of the staggering British actor Kathryn Hunter, who plays one witch divided into three; she sounds as if she’s gurgling blood.

I’m a God-fearing man. I try not to worry. Fear is contaminated faith.

It’s Coen’s first cinematic adventure since his brother traded the silver screen for the stage – “Of course, I missed him,” Joel Coen tells me – and he doesn’t want us to know if we’re in Macbeth’s wild mind or on the wild moors. “It’s the essence of Joel, I have to say,” McDormand says. The director was careful about fiddling with the verse, noting, “You don’t want to sing the song without the melody.” In keeping with the vision of a “postmenopausal” Macbeth, they did change a line Macbeth speaks to his wife: “Bring forth men-children only/For thy undaunted mettle should compose/Nothing but male.” “Should compose” has become “should have composed.”

“They’re a couple at the end of their ambition, not at the beginning of their ambition,” McDormand says. “In our interpretation, she starts realising that she’s become expendable, and that’s what drives her insane, not the fact that they kill Duncan and there’s blood on her hands. She’s given up her soul to the dark forces, and he’s not confiding in her any more. He’s not asking for her help.”

The actor says that, for her and D, their long marriages provided insight: “Denzel and Pauletta have been married as long as Joel and I have. We had to learn how to be parents together and life partners together because it’s an ever-changing landscape.”

Coen says he wasn’t scared of the Macbeth curse “until Covid shut us down on Friday the 13th in March 2020”. But Washington was never worried. “I’m a God-fearing man,” he says. “I try not to worry. Fear is contaminated faith.” Unlike some other top movie stars, Washington is just as comfortable playing villains, antiheroes and deeply flawed men as he is portraying heroes. If there was ever any pressure on him, as there was on leading black actors like Sidney Poitier, to choose saintly, role-model parts rather than demonic, criminal parts, he ignored it.

Denzel changed my life. To be 30 and get to work with one of the greats of all time? I’ve never seen anybody be a flat-out better storyteller. He knows what the audience is thinking. He knows how to surprise them

“What he decides he will do, he will do,” says Brian Grazer, who produced Washington’s hits American Gangster and Inside Man. “What he decides he won’t do, he won’t do.” The actor is nonpareil at playing lethal and unpredictable. His eyes can go dead and scary, full of razor blades, even as he offers that magnetic smile. In life, as in art, Grazer says, you know that this is not a guy you want to mess with. Washington was chilling as the bodyguard out for revenge in the 2004 film Man on Fire, and as the sociopathic narcotics cop Alonzo Harris in the 2001 thriller Training Day, for which he won an Oscar.

“Training Day, I ad-libbed, like, 50 per cent of what you hear,” Washington says. Its director, Antoine Fuqua, used real Los Angeles gang members named Bone, Killer and Hitman as extras. “We had a lot of real folks that had done real things, so I used those people. I learned from those people.”

Ethan Hawke, who was taken on a terrifying ride as Jake Hoyt, Washington’s tyro partner in that film, recalls the actor’s threat of violence. “It was like playing music with Miles Davis or baseball with Babe Ruth,” says Hawke, who was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role. “Denzel changed my life. To be 30 and get to work with one of the greats of all time? I’ve never seen anybody be a flat-out better storyteller. He knows what the audience is thinking. He knows how to surprise them. His imagination is so thorough.

“The greats can play offence and defence, and most people can’t. Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman and Denzel manage to be equally compelling as protagonist and antagonist.”

Washington’s other costars are equally effusive. Meryl Streep talks to me about his “mesmeric power over an audience” onstage. Tom Hanks says, about their dazzling duet in Philadelphia, “I sat beside him for three weeks shooting the trial. I had no dialogue. It was a thriller of an acting class. He follows no rules but pursues the moment. No nonsense, but a looseness that can’t be faked. A one-on-one scene with him is a game of hardball catch – he is both daring you to keep up and propelling you to do more.

“He is our Brando. Nicholson. Olivier. And, like me, he steals office supplies and notebooks from the set dressing.” Hanks recalls that, at one point on the set, “we were talking about our New York City days as broke actors – about the same age, peers, trying to learn craft and get work. I noted that we were in the same boat at the same time. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘But you could catch a cab in Manhattan.’”

Denzel Washington. Photograph: Dana Scruggs/The New York Times

Those who know Washington say he can be guarded; he can be suspicious of putting himself in others’ hands, or of being taken out of context because he doesn’t want to play into someone else’s narrative. He keeps it low key, driving himself places without a posse. He isn’t a regular on the Hollywood party scene.

Actors who work with him are never sure where they stand. He can be charming or elusive but not buddy-buddy.

“I did not try to be his friend, hang out at a Lakers game or go to birthday parties,” Hawke says. “I just wanted to offer him my best.”

Melissa Leo has worked with him in three movies – Flight and two of the Equalizer films – and still calls him Mr Washington. McDormand agrees: “He’s actually a really lovely human being, but he does really need to protect his process. He has a very trusted team of people that he’s worked with for years, that was his pod.”

When Liev Schreiber starred with Washington in The Hurricane, he says, he expected a friendly Denzel and got a prickly Hurricane instead. “I thought he really hated me,” Schreiber says. But, later, he got a call from Jonathan Demme about appearing in The Manchurian Candidate remake with Washington, who had pushed for him. “I was completely shocked by that,” Schreiber says. But, he adds, Washington plumbs such dangerous and painful depths as an actor that small talk could be distracting. “I never worked with an actor who seemed to care more.”

Grazer says Washington told him that he wouldn’t play Frank Lucas in American Gangster unless the Harlem murderer and drug trafficker was shown paying for his crimes in the end.

Bruno Delbonnel, the French cinematographer for The Tragedy of Macbeth, says he is accustomed to being the first on set at 5am, so he was surprised to see Washington beating him there. “Denzel was there, always,” he said. “It was a competition between him and me. He tried to beat me, because he was rehearsing alone for an hour or so on set with no light. Just himself walking on set and trying to have a feeling of what he could do.”

Washington and Ethan Hawke in Training Day (2004) Photograph: Warner Bros

Washington doesn’t whine. Spike Lee made his displeasure clear when Washington lost the Oscar in 1993 for his stunning performance in Malcolm X to Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman, but Washington said graciously that if he had won, “I would have felt badly. It was Pacino’s time.”

When he accepted the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 2019, it was clear that he was getting more publicly spiritual. He called himself a vessel of God and played an old video of his late father-in-law talking about how we must love and care for one another. He talked disdainfully about the “Twitter-tweet-meme-mean world that we’ve created” and said we’d better do our best to “turn this thing around” for young people.

He continued this theme at our coffee. “The enemy is the inner me,” he says. “The Bible says in the last days – I don’t know if it’s the last days, it’s not my place to know – but it says we’ll be lovers of ourselves. The No 1 photograph today is a selfie, ‘Oh, me at the protest.’ ‘Me with the fire.’ ‘Follow me.’ ‘Listen to me.’

“We’re living in a time where people are willing to do anything to get followed. What is the long- or short-term effect of too much information? It’s going fast and it can be manipulated obviously in a myriad of ways. And people are led like sheep to slaughter.”

In heaven, he says, “there are going to be two lines, the long line and the short line, and I’m interested in being in the short line.” He advises me to read the Daily Word, an inspirational message that has an app. (As I write, the daily word is “compassion.”)

“You have to fill up that bucket every morning,” he says. “It’s rough out there. You leave the house in the morning. Here they come, chipping away. By the end of the day, you’ve got to refill that bucket. We know right from wrong.” As he leaves, he turns back to remind me: “Get that Daily Word.” – This article originally appeared in The New York Times

*The Tragedy of Macbeth opens in Ireland on Monday, December 27th