"‘The Dude abides.’… I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners." — The Stranger, “The Big Lebowski”
Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen are the subject of a new book to be published by Zondervan and written by award-winning Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cathleen Falsani.
Scheduled for release in Spring 2009, The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers will look at the filmmakers’ presentation of serious existential and theological questions using the dark, intelligent humor and epic storytelling that have been their trademarks in more than a dozen films during the past 25 years.
The Dude Abides will be a chronological examination of the Coen brothers’ oeuvre—every film they have directed together, as well as the films for which they have written original screenplays and those they have adapted from existing material. Falsani will investigate the theological, mythological, moral, ethical, religious and philosophical content and what their overarching message—their “Gospel”—might be.
Following the tradition of The Gospel According to the Simpsons, The Gospel According to Disney and The Gospel According to Oprah, The Dude Abides will turn a journalist’s eye on the Coen Brothers’ particular brand of popular culture to explore “the moral and existential questions and answers—God-stuff, really—put forth in scenarios and situations where some folks might say God isn’t supposed to show up,” Falsani says. “I see a large audience of avid fans who want to explore the transcendent depths of the Coens’ work, as well as those readers who are simply interested in the intersection between popular culture and spirituality.”
From their 1984 debut, “Blood Simple,” through their most recent work, “No Country for Old Men,” which recently was honored with 4 Oscars, each of the Coen Brothers’ films probes ethical and spiritual quandaries.
• “Blood Simple” is the story of a man with serious doubts, and what happens when he attempts to discover what the “truth” is.
• In “Barton Fink,” the title character, a successful New York playwright turned Hollywood screenwriter, mortgages his soul as he struggles with terminal writers block among the residents of, what may be, hell—fire, demons and all.
• “The Big Lebowski” chronicles the misadventures of the Dude—stoner, pacifist, philosopher —as he attempts to right some wrongs and vanquish the powers of nihilism and moral turpitude.
• “O Brother Where Art Thou” follows the odyssey (spiritual and otherwise) of three convicts, a skeptic searching for his way home and two seeking redemption from their sins.
• “No Country for Old Men” is an epic, prophetic journey that tackles one of theology’s most daunting conundrums, theodicy—if God is good then why doesn’t God intervene to stop unrelenting violence—and surmises that we don’t really know what God is thinking.
Cathleen Falsani is the Author of The God Factor and Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace. She is an award-winning religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. A graduate of Wheaton College, Falsani holds masters degrees in journalism and theology. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and fellow journalist, Maurice Possley.
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