Letter from the Co-Editor, Issue #5
During spring break, I found a small wooden chest in my closet filled with knickknacks from when I was a child: cheap jewelry, polymer clay animals, and notes from friends. The insignificant flotsam led me into the past: for a moment, I was reintroduced to the concerns and clarity of childhood.
Fortunately, we have a word for this fleeting impression: nostalgia, the theme which undergirds the new articles in this fifth issue of Satellite. Nostalgia is the bittersweet appreciation of the past. Other languages’ versions of the word introduce new shades of meaning: Hiraeth, in Welsh, alludes to the longing for home that has disappeared;1 saudade is a Portuguese word that speaks to a melancholy for some pleasure that perhaps never existed.2 Nostalgia is an idea that can easily feed into sentimentality, yet also holds implies our complicated relationship with the past. We idealize the past, we alter it, and we bring it with us into the present.
Nostalgic artifacts allow us to return to beloved memories of childhood: Hannah Gentry explains the recent popularity of 90s icon Bob Ross by exploring the way his show speaks to timeless themes. Gloria Marquez notes our dissatisfaction with mass production of fashion and our desire to return to the bold classism of styles represented in French New Wave films. From the vantage point of the present, the past seems simpler, colored as it is by a child’s perspective. In “Mary Poppins: Looking Back At Simpler Times,” Charissa Fenton observes the way the newest Mary Poppins movie disrupts the thirty-year cycle of film remakes, tracing the anomaly to the nostalgia of one man: Elias Walt Disney.
Because of nostalgia’s connection with sentimentality, it often drives production of content and mediums. Gabriel Hood highlights this theme in the classic Space Jam 1 and 2, as well as social media’s role in keeping childhood nostalgia alive. Hannah Gentry explores how a resurgence in outdated technology like vinyl can be tracked to consumers’ desire for authenticity and reliability. My piece, “China’s Eiffel Tower: Nostalgic Replication,” explores the way globalism has cultivated nostalgia across geographical boundaries, leading to replicas of European cities in China.
Nostalgia can also blind our eyes to complex historical realities. In her review of the recently released The Challenger Disaster, Victoria McCrary explains the way the film interacts with ethical compromises within a program as admired as NASA. This fifth issue also includes two video essays: “The First Movie I Saw” by Daniel Nguyen about watching the 1979 Jesus film for the first time since childhood, and “Life and Rest” by Tierra Hollis about growing up.
As you read the recent issue, we hope that you experience some nostalgia as well. At the same time, we hope that you will be motivated to interrogate both your own nostalgic interpretations of the past and commercialism’s manipulation of our nostalgia. Our understanding of the past determines our understanding of the present; it is vital that we approach history with care and humility.
Letter from the Co-Editor, Issue #4
“Stop doubting and believe,” Jesus tells his disciple Thomas, when he doubts that Jesus actually came back from the dead. Patronizingly, modern Christians dub him “doubting Thomas,” a subtle expression of their superiority, and miss the point: Jesus actually gives Thomas reason to believe. He tells Thomas to touch the holes in his hands and the gap in his ribs. He only asks him to quit doubting once he no longer needs to.
In our first three issues of Satellite, we explored themes of rebirth, identity, and devotion. As our online magazine settles into its purpose and identity, we shift in our fourth issue to examine doubt. We address the ways doubt shapes us by sometimes draining our vitality, sometimes galvanizing our search for the truth.
Doubt is a growing thing: we watch it fissuring through the public square, splitting our trust in our government and public institutions. In our newest issue, previous Co-Editor Karla Freyre examines the recent wave of television expressing doubts about the American justice system. William Hernandez highlights the recent popularity of wild conspiracy theories and how they can only thrive in an unstable and doubting society.
Artists are more likely than the rest of society to sense undercurrents of doubt, according to Vonnegut’s canary in the coal mine theory. In this issue, we listen in to how musicians like Andy Mineo and the alternative-rock band Twenty One Pilots doubt God and redemption, from Phillip Morrow and Josef Junek respectively. These pieces explore the ways doubt can completely unground us, yet also, paradoxically, bless us.
The theme of doubt also undergirds Katrina Bolman’s piece on the cinematic movement the French New Wave and Felicia Giwa’s prescient observations on the decline of movie theatres. NiNi Banh traces the parallels between the doubts of Jesus’ apostles and the doubts of cult followers in the indie film Sound of My Voice. In my piece on Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered, I express doubt whether the novel is the proper arena for overt political criticism.
Doubt, while often unseen, is churning below the surface of popular culture, with all its noise, clamor, debate, and invective. To preserve our faith against doubt, we must reclaim mental space from encroaching noise, as Victoria Thomas encourages in her piece, “A Retreat in the Everyday.”
Yet our primary response to doubt should not be to silence or escape it. In her piece on the Rothko Chapel, Natalie LaValley explores via negativa, the ancient apophatic theology that emphasizes what God is not rather than what he is; it is the posture of waiting out the darkness, while clinging to the truth.
We hope that as you read Satellite, you are challenged by the sincerity of our doubt but encouraged by our hope. Doubt is a fearsome thing. It’s best experienced with company.
Letter from the Editor, Issue #2
Last fall as the students and I were preparing to launch the first issue of Satellite we found ourselves circling back time and time again to one question: what was the identity of this new thing we were making together? For several months we gave ourselves the freedom and space to explore all the possibilities we could dream up. We could be a college newspaper, a literary journal, a sports website, a pop culture blog. We could publish short stories by established authors or movie reviews by budding writers. We could focus on fashion, religion, or local Houston culture. We did our homework and steeped ourselves in all manner of publications. We studied Image Journal,The Believer, The Oxford American, Grantland, N+1,Mockingbird, and more. We allowed ourselves to borrow what we liked, and we figured out what wouldn’t work for us.
What we landed on is the work you’ll find in our first two issues. Officially, we are HBU’s student-run arts and culture online magazine: we publish essays, videos, poems, and more that reflect on the way the arts and culture shape us as spiritual and relational beings. Unofficially, we are still finding out who we are and what we do best.
Because we are still defining who we are, it seemed fitting to organize this second issue around the theme Identity. We invited contributors to consider how and where they found, forged, changed, and solidified their identities. The result is a compelling collection of pieces. The predominant through-line here is the messiness of our individual journeys and how our faith ultimately illuminates who we are. In their respective essays, Shantelle Slaughter, Natalie Mulvahill, Ben Byrum, and Victoria Hornsby interrogate the perils of defining oneself by what one does or creates. In our first video essay, Josef Junek reckons with his place in fan culture. In two pieces, Nick Vafiadis uses a new film and a recent book as a means of personal introspection. Tèa Ashanti and Rechanne Waddell consider the power of representation for African-Americans in films new and old, and Noah White looks at what coming-of-age movies tell us about the fluidity of identity in adolescence. You’ll also find thoughtful essays about empathy in our media-saturated culture, the connection between skin care and the soul, and the diversity reflected in Houston’s food scene.
Our hope is that as you read and watch our stories of identity, you’ll be encouraged to reflect on your own. After all, it is through sharing stories that we come to know and empathize with one another.
Associate Professor of Cinema, Media Arts, and Writing
Houston Baptist University
The Department of Cinema, Media Arts, and Writing at Houston Baptist University is pleased to announce the launch of Satellite, HBU’s student-run arts and culture online magazine. Satellite is proudly the descendant of The Collegian, the student-led newspaper of HBU since 1963. Over its long and prestigious history, The Collegian faithfully reported on campus news and prepared students for careers in journalism. In my role as the new director of The Collegian, I’ve been tasked with guiding this student publication into its next chapter, finding the best ways to serve our students, our campus, and community.
Satellite was born out of our students’ desire to create a space to reflect on the ways the arts and popular culture intersect with their faith. The students’ passion for the arts and the skills they are acquiring in the Department of Cinema, Media Arts, and Writing make Satellite a natural outlet for students wishing to hone and showcase their talents.
For the online magazine’s first issue, the students have chosen the theme Rebirth. Satellite’s readers can expect thoughtful essays on how film, music, sports, fashion, video games, and more encourage transformation. Ultimately, each essay at Satellite considers how the arts and culture shape us as spiritual and relational beings.
Director, The Collegian
Associate Professor of Cinema, Media Arts, and Writing
Houston Baptist University
Letters from the Editor, Issue #1
Hi, I’m Rebecca Kister, and as co-managing editor of Satellite, I welcome you to HBU’s student-run arts and culture online magazine. Satellite was born out of a desire my fellow students and I had to create a space where we could reflect on the ways movies, television, fashion, sports, video games and more intersect with our faith. We aspire to be vibrant, engaging, accessible, and challenging to our readers.
It is remarkable the amount of hard work and dedication that was put into making Satellite a reality. I would like to thank each of my fellow students for not giving up, so that we could share this with you today.
Co-Managing Editor, Satellite
Greetings. I am Tèa Ashanti, co-managing editor of Satellite, and I’m proud to introduce to you our inaugural issue which focuses on the theme Rebirth. Woven throughout these stories you’ll see how we look at the changes happening in our culture and how we are challenged to start anew every day. For example, in his piece on Blade Runner 2049, Nick Vafiadis looks at the possibilities and disappointments in Hollywood reboots. Essence Wilson considers the importance of hip-hop’s recent return to its narrative roots. And Felicia Giwa looks at the cost of going to live music events in an age when mass gun violence shades all communal experiences. We hope these stories and the many others in our first issue cause you to reflect on what Rebirth could mean for you.
So, welcome to Satellite. We think your time with us will encourage and challenge you. We know we’re encouraged that you’ve found us.
Co-Managing Editor, Satellite
SATELLITE is a publication created by
students in the Department of Cinema,
Media Arts, and Writing at HBU.
Bearden Coleman Editor-in-Chief
Rebecca Kister Co-Managing Editor
Corrie McCloy Co-Managing Editor
Alfredo Ruiz Art Editor