Signs and Wonders
“Saying Grace” by Norman Rockwell
Associated Press/Sotheby’s
“Saying Grace” by Norman Rockwell

Signs and Wonders: Rockwell’s return, plus more on the Driscoll dust-up

Newsworthy

Getting respect. Artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell has long been the Rodney Dangerfield of the art world—he gets no respect. Part of the reason is because his paintings extolled traditional values and institutions. Another reason was Rockwell’s willingness to work in the mainstream culture. He did more than 300 cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post at a time when that magazine was one of the most popular in the country. Art collectors are finally giving Rockwell his due. His most famous cover, “Saying Grace,” sold last week for $46 million. The painting depicts a woman and a little boy praying over their meal while others watch. In 2006, another iconic Rockwell image, “Breaking Home Ties,” sold for $15 million.

Driscoll developments. Last week I told you that radio host Janet Mefferd accused megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll of plagiarism in an on-air interview. Developments continue. Ingrid Schluetter, a part-time researcher and show-booker for Mefferd, resigned in protest over the situation. In a blog post, she said, “All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized, and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.” Driscoll has so far not made any public statements on the controversy, but his publisher, Tyndale House, issued a statement that read in part:  “Tyndale House takes any accusation of plagiarism seriously and has therefore conducted a thorough in-house review of the original material and sources provided by the author. After this review we feel confident that the content in question has been properly cited in the printed book and conforms to market standards.”

Taking a stand. A leading Greek Orthodox bishop warns that lawmakers who vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in Greece will be excommunicated from the church. The Guardian quotes the Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim, as saying lawmakers “risk incurring the wrath of God” if they vote for homosexual partnerships. The bishop released a letter saying homosexuality is “an insult to God and man.” His letter also said, “I beseech you from the heart not to proceed. You will deny yourself the blessing of the most just Lord whose help and protection we daily need as much personally as nationally … during these critical times for our country.”

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Cinema slowdown. The Disney feature Frozen took the top spot at the box office this weekend, bringing in a cool $31.6 million. Catching Fire came in second, with $27 million. This combination of fire and ice held Out of the Furnace, a steel-town drama featuring Casey Affleck and the week’s only new release, to just $5.3 million. It was a slow week at the box office, down 50 percent from last week. Most of the big Christmas movies are waiting until next week or later to release. The lull is allowing some smaller, quirkier movies to find an audience. Philomena and The Dallas Buyers Club continue to quietly build box office receipts. Both movies are considered Oscar contenders because of strong lead performances by Judi Dench and Matthew McConaughey, respectively. The Christmas Candle, based on the Max Lucado book, has been out four weeks and has grossed about $2 million at the box office. That’s not great, but it is enough to give producer EchoLight, led by former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a fighting chance of making money on DVD and cable sales in Christmases to come.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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