In response to the outcry surrounding the original ending of Mass Effect 3, BioWare has released Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, a new DLC pack that includes additional footage that expands upon the game’s original endings. It also includes the new “Refusal” ending option, in which you can reject the original choices and instead, choose to not use the Crucible to end the war with the Reapers — which essentially dooms the current cycle of galactic civilization.
The “Refusal” ending certainly doesn’t begin to address all of Mass Effect 3’s issues, nor is it the complete re-write that many fans were hoping for, but it feels better to me than the original options. If nothing else, it ends the game on a bittersweet mix of tragedy and hope that feels more in-line with the game's overall tone, and a bit more epic than the original endings. But not everyone agrees with me.
File under “Nothing New Under The Sun”: In his upcoming book, Cicero’s Web, Tom Standage reveals that social networks, and their various criticisms, are nothing unique to the 21st century. Take, for instance, the 17th century coffeehouse:
With the promise of a constant and unpredictable stream of news, messages and gossip, coffeehouses offered an exciting and novel platform for sharing information. So seductive was this new social environment — you never knew what you might learn on your next visit, or who you might meet — that coffeehouse denizens found themselves whiling away hours in reading and discussion, oblivious to the passage of time.
Enthusiasm for coffeehouses was not universal, however, and some observers regarded them as a worrying development. They grumbled that Christians had taken to a Muslim drink instead of traditional English beer, and fretted that the livelihoods of tavern-keepers might be threatened. But most of all they lamented that coffeehouses were distracting people who ought to be doing useful work, rather than networking and sharing trivia with their acquaintances.
Classic hymns like “Come Thou Fount” aren’t sacred Scripture, so there’s nothing blasphemous about changing them. Even so, should we update their language in order to make them more understandable and palatable for modern audiences? What, if anything, do we lose if and when we do so?
For a limited time only, Bleep is offering this 55-track compilation that charts the history and development of electronic music from the 1930s on through 2010. Featured artists include John Cage, Popol Vuh, Throbbing Gristle, Afrika Bambaataa, 808 State, Aphex Twin, Gas, and Burial.
My latest column for Christ and Pop Culture looks at Haibane Renmei, a truly delightful and thought-provoking anime series that recently began streaming on Hulu. You can also read my full review of Haibane Renmei here.
When it comes to sweeping orchestral post-rock, I’ll take Japan’s Mono over, say, Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky any day of the week. Over the last decade or so, the quartet have crafted a solid discography full of apocalypse-sized walls of guitars and heartwrenching orchestral arrangements, culminating in the one-two punch of Hymn to the Immortal Wind and Holy Ground: NYC Live.
According to Pitchfork, Mono’s next album, titled For My Parents, will be released by Temporary Residence Limited on September 4, 2012. Details are still sparse — I couldn’t find any mention of the album on the Temporary Residence website — but the band has recorded the album with Wordless Music Orchestra, who played with them on the aforementioned Holy Ground. In any case, the snippets of music in the above video indicate that Mono’s music has lost none of its beauty or sturm und drang. (The orchestral segment that begins at 1:45 is particularly jaw-dropping.)
Statamic — a flat file-based content management system developed in part by Jack McDade (one of the folks behind the excellent “Structure” add-on for ExpressionEngine) — has been officially released. I’ve been following the project for awhile now, and it looks very promising. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to play with it soon.
I recently linked to a fascinating article about research that indicates that, while we’re all prone to cognitive bias, smarter people might actually be more prone to such bias. My Christ and Pop Culture colleague Alan Noble takes it from there.
We cannot analyze ourselves to pure objectivity; we will always be blind to some bias in our thinking. But we are good at observing and pointing out the biases in others. Which means that we need to rely upon each other for correction. Our task is to cultivate communities where criticism, disagreements, and differences exist with love and grace (2 Timothy 4:2). It’s not acceptable to allow one another to continue on in blindness and ignorance. We must sharpen each other, lovingly, but actively (Proverbs 27:17). –For more on why criticism is critical for believers, see Citizenship Confusion: Why I Criticize the Church.
Such a community requires us to be open to correction, with the knowledge that we not only have biases, but that we are likely blind to many of them. Our response to loving criticism or disagreement shouldn’t be shock, hurt, anger, dismissiveness, or defensiveness, but gratitude and prayerful reflection. Let’s petition the Lord for wise correction, knowing that He will provide it and that the prayer will form our hearts to be open to contrary views.
Opus is where Jason Morehead writes about music, movies, video games, pop culture, religion, technology, web development, and anything else that interests him at the time. Jason has also written for Christ & Pop Culture, Filmwell, and Twitch. More Info…