Month: January 2015

Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” reveals the good, the bad and the ugly in American society

Chris Kyle is still making a difference. “American Sniper,” the film about his life as the military’s most lethal shooter, has sparked a debate about patriotism and the motivation of those who fight our nation’s wars. Countless reviews, articles, posts and Tweets have discussed every aspect of Clint Eastwood’s remarkable film, and they’ve revealed the good, the bad and the ugly in our society.First, the good -- those who supported the film. I recently wrote how we should make “American Sniper” the number one film to show Hollywood that our nation values its heroes and their stories. I knew the film would do well, but even I was surprised. It opened at the top spot and continues to dominate, breaking records and introducing Kyle, his way of life and his values to a massive audience. “Infrequent moviegoers who go only two or three times a year are coming out to see this movie,” said Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman on the Deadline website. “This is a movie about patriotism, recognizing heroes, those who served; it’s about family.” Hollywood got the message. Hopefully we’ll soon see more films honoring our nation’s warfighters and their families. Now, the bad -- those whose willful mischaracterizations of Kyle reveal a deep disconnect between them and America’s warfighters. This is a crowd that doesn’t understand why anyone would join the military. They aren’t aware of the intellectual rigor and personal integrity military service requires, and they’re completely unaware of the evil our troops face…

Pope Francis should be more disciplined in his communication: opinion

Pope Francis leaves after his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. He has announced plans to visit the United States in 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)Alessandra Tarantino Growing up in Alabama taught me how to explain Catholicism from an early age. My best friend in elementary school was Southern Baptist, and Saturday night sleepovers were usually followed by Sunday morning sermons at his church. I learned a great deal there, but I also learned that some Protestants have no idea what the Catholic Church actually teaches. The questions in my friend's Sunday school class were typical. "Why do y'all pray to Mary?" We don't. We ask her pray for us, same as when you ask family and friends to pray for you. We just happen to believe that Mary, the saints and all of the angels can hear us and are capable of intercessory prayer. "Why do y'all worship statues?" We don't. They're just inanimate yet artistic representations of things that we hold sacred, same as the cross around your neck, the nativity scene on your lawn or the angel atop your Christmas tree. AL.com Opinion About the writer J. Pepper Bryars grew up in Mobile and is now a writer living in Huntsville. Contact him at jpepperbryars@gmail.com and jpepperbryars.com. Read more See more by J. Pepper Bryars More opinion on AL.com "Why do y'all think the pope is infallible?" Now that one's more complicated. We don't, except when he "proclaims by a…

We should make “American Sniper” the number one movie this weekend: opinion

J. Pepper Bryars By J. Pepper Bryars The new film about the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history is opening nationwide this weekend, and whether you buy a ticket to "American Sniper" might influence what future generations know about the Iraq War, and more importantly, about the heroes who fought it. "Movies are the source of much of what we know - or think we know - about history," wrote University of Notre Dame professor Gary Gutting in a New York Times column discussing historically based films. For good or bad, the professor is correct. Financially successful or critically acclaimed films have a tremendous ability to influence our collective memory and often help form the lessons we learn from history. This brings me to my point: If we want our nation to accurately remember the brave men and women who fought in Iraq, and the families who supported them, then we ought to ensure that "American Sniper" does very, very well at the box office this weekend. AL.com Opinion About the writer J. Pepper Bryars grew up in Mobile and is now a writer living in Huntsville. Contact him at jpepperbryars@gmail.com and jpepperbryars.com. Read more See more by J. Pepper Bryars More opinion on AL.com The film is based on the bestselling book by the same name and stars Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the aforementioned sniper and celebrated U.S. Navy SEAL. It follows Kyle's path from the ranches and rodeos of Texas, through intense military training and during…

Conservatives may have hope with an ‘SEC Primary:’ opinion

Southern conservatives have labored for decades to build the Republican Party from an inconsequential organization in the region into a force that now dominates the Deep South. From the plains of west Texas to the mountains of North Carolina, the party of limited government, free enterprise and individual rights now controls every governor's office, every state legislature and every U.S. Senate seat. Now we're looking to have a greater say in who the party nominates for president. "Officials in five Southern states -- Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas -- are coordinating to hold their primary on March 1, 2015," wrote James Hohmann under the headline "Dixie Rising" last month in Politico. He noted that it would be a "Southern Super Tuesday, voting en masse on the heels of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada." AL.com Opinion About the writer J. Pepper Bryars grew up in Mobile and is now a writer living in Huntsville. Contact him at jpepperbryars@gmail.com and jpepperbryars.com.). Read more See more by J. Pepper Bryars More opinion on AL.com The potential "SEC Primary," as it's being called, would be an interesting development for conservatives for three reasons. First, an early joint primary in the Deep South would complicate the national party's plan of quickly nominating an establishment candidate by front-loading and shortening the primary process. Many didn't like how things went in 2012; the lengthy primary season allowed several candidates to remain in the fight for months, causing the eventual winner to spend money and…