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The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers Paperback – September 21, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; 1 edition (September 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780310292463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310292463
  • ASIN: 0310292468
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #756,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It must be true that God can be found even in the quirkiest of places. Chicago Sun-Times religion journalist Falsani mined the 14 films (since 1984) of Joel and Ethan Coen to find God and to articulate their spiritual and religious questions and challenges. The Coen brothers have a reputation for injecting a lot of dark humor into their movies, but as the author illustrates, the comedy is an avenue to deeper issues. Death, betrayal, greed, the seeming absence of God and the dire consequences of one's choices are the complex themes expertly handled by the filmmakers. Falsani does not posit that these films are overtly religious, but she does successfully convey their spiritual insights about the human condition. Each chapter provides a movie plot summary and concludes with an insightful segment dubbed The Moral of the Story. Falsani is an expert at pop culture analysis and her love for the celluloid arts shines forth brightly—her interpretations are nuanced and sophisticated without being pretentious. Film lovers, whether religious or not, will be pleased. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

It must be true that God can be found even in the quirkiest of places. Chicago Sun-Times religion journalist Falsani mined the 14 films (since 1984) of Joel and Ethan Coen to find God and to articulate their spiritual and religious questions and challenges. The Coen brothers have a reputation for injecting a lot of dark humor into their movies, but as the author illustrates, the comedy is an avenue to deeper issues. Death, betrayal, greed, the seeming absence of God and the dire consequences of one's choices are the complex themes expertly handled by the filmmakers. Falsani does not posit that these films are overtly religious, but she does successfully convey their spiritual insights about the human condition. Each chapter provides a movie plot summary and concludes with an insightful segment dubbed “The Moral of the Story.” Falsani is an expert at pop culture analysis and her love for the celluloid arts shines forth brightly---her interpretations are nuanced and sophisticated without being pretentious. Film lovers, whether religious or not, will be pleased. (Oct.) -- Publisher’s Weekly

More About the Author

Cathleen Falsani is an award-winning religion journalist and author of the critically acclaimed The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace, The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, BELIEBER: Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber, and the forthcoming Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels (co-edited with Jennifer Grant).

A Connecticut native and granddaughter of Italian and Irish immigrants, Cathleen is a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, Cathleen holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University as well as a master's degree in theological studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She also was a 2009 Divinity School Media Fellow at Duke University, a Gralla Fellow in Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, and was the 1996 Stoody-West Fellow in Religious Journalism.

Cathleen was the religion writer and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times from 2000 to January 2010, and has been a longtime contributor and columnist for Religion News Service, Sojourners, and the Huffington Post. From August 2011 to December 2012, Cathleen was the Web Editor and Director of New Media for Sojourners, where she ran its popular God's Politics blog. She also was a contributing editor and columnist for Sojourners magazine.

Most recently, Cathleen was the Faith & Values columnist for the Orange County Register (from February 2013 to January 2014, when her position was eliminated) where she covered the election and first year of Pope Francis' pontificate (traveling to Rome for his election), the post-AIDS-emergency rebirth in Zambia and Malawi, music, film, comedy, and faith (among many other things.)

For more than 15 years, as a reporter and columnist from 2000-2010 at the Chicago Sun-Times, and as a reporter, commentator, essayist and columnist for a number of other publications as well, Cathleen has covered her diverse "God beat" from locations as far afield as Vatican City, Vedic City, Ireland, Germany, the Caribbean, the West Wing, the Playboy Mansion and the dugout at Wrigley Field. She was honored as the 2005 James O. Supple Religion Writer of the Year by the Religion Newswriters Association, and has twice been a finalist for the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year award.

Cathleen began writing her popular weekly column on spirituality and popular culture for the Sun-Times in 2001, She wrote a regular column for Religion News Service for several years, ending in September 2011 when she took on a full-time role at, Sojourners Magazine. Cathleen has been a regular contributor to The Huffington Post since 2006.

Her work has appeared in The Atlantic,Rolling Stone, Christianity Today and Christian Century magazines, as well as the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Toronto Star, Kansas City Star, Madison Capital Times, The Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, CNN.com and other publications in North America and Europe. She has appeared as a commentator on CNN, Oprah Winfrey's "Soul Series," National Public Radio's "The Story" and "Weekend Edition," BBC World Service, FoxNewsChannel, Moody Radio, WGN-Radio, NPR's "Day to Day," The Tavis Smiley Show (on PBS), and a host of other radio and television venues.

Chicago Magazine media critic Steve Rhodes has said Cathleen writes one of the city's "most compelling columns . . . despite her focus on a subject that often is handled with a deadly dullness." Of her column, Cathleen says she likes to try to "find God in the places some people say God isn't supposed to be," and that she defines both spirituality and popular culture quite broadly.

Cathleen is a sought-after public speaker having presented lectures and talks at colleges, universities, civic organizations, houses of worship and large faith-based conferences nationwide, including the Wild Goose Festival, the National Pastors Convention, the Catalyst Conference, the Los Angeles Book Festival, the Festival of Faith and Music, and the Festival of Faith and Writing, St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago, WomenChurch, Point Loma Nazarene University's Symposium by the Sea, Dominican University in Chicago, California State University in Sacramento, and a number of other universities, conferences, festivals, and houses of worship throughout the country.

She is also a writing coach, offering workshops for writers and creatives through IncubateSpirit.com. Cathleen is honored to serve as a member of the advisory board for ONE Moms, part of ONE Campaign, the global advocacy organization focused on extreme poverty and disease in Africa co-founded by Bono of U2.

Cathleen has been married to the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, Maurice Possley, since 1997. After 20 years in Chicago, in the summer of 2009, Cathleen moved with Maury and their son Vasco to Laguna Beach, California. Vasco, who was born in Malawi in Central Africa, became a permanent part of the Possley family on June 1, 2010 when his adoption was approved by the High Court of Malawi in Blantyre.

Customer Reviews

You'll feel much better after watching one of these movies and going to Sunday mass than reading this book.
Rob S.
"The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers" does not evoke images of boring, shallow summaries of the plots of the Coen brothers' films.
To Be Simple
Most Coen brother movie fans, who are attracted to a book like this, will already have a pretty good ideal of the film plotlines.
Kenneth M. Gelwasser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Marblehead Johnson VINE VOICE on October 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I LOVE the Coen Brothers. They are the unrivaled champions of American film making. This book does absolutely ZERO as far as giving insight into what makes them tick. We're to believe that this book delves into a deeper meaning than what's on screen by naming it "The Gospel...", but all this book does is give a general overview of the plot to their movies. Sorry, but I can go to imdb for that.
This book dedicates 95% of its pages to generalized descriptions of their movies. That's it. Hardly any analysis whatsoever. Each movie has its own chapter dedicated to it, and the author spends 7-10 pages describing the entire plot with an occasional quote. At the end the author adds a brief paragraph or two telling us what she feels is the "moral" of the film. If you were to add all of her own personal thoughts and insights into the Coen Brothers' film works, you would come away with maybe five pages of fluff. As I started reading the book, I actually said out loud, "you've got to be kidding me with this!". Why would anyone interested in the Coen Brothers read a page synopsis when they can just go watch the movie? And why would anyone who has seen their films bother with this book? They wouldn't. And shouldn't. Just go see the movie if you haven't already. To add insult to injury, she prefaces the book by talking down to the reader by saying, "opinions are important, and they are subjective, colored, and shaped by life experiences". Gee, thanks Einstein. Like I needed someone to tell me that. It's even more insulting to realize that she has no opinions of her own in the book. Where are these colored opinions shaped by life experiences, oh enlightened author?
I also feel this book is a bit deceptive in its advertising.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Splatoon on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
Essentially a collection of plot summaries and questionable assumptions that are never really tied to the films in a believable fashion. While there's nothing to say that the Falsani's interpretations are wrong, there's also nothing to say they are right, as what's presented are a bunch of "maybe's" and "you might think's" that seem to reflect the author's personal lens more than any meaning contained within the films themselves. Seems like a lazy attempt to cash in on the Coen brother's popularity, without offering any real insight. Of course all this might be forgiven if the book had a spark of personality or humor, which it does not. Blew through it in a few hours, and want them back, though it would be interesting to see the topic covered in a more comprehensive fashion by another author. As it stands, Coen fans and neophytes alike will be bored.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alison Hudson VINE VOICE on November 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are so many things I imagined _The Dude Abides_ being before I read it--a book of film criticism, a tongue-in-cheek "Philosophy of ..." sort of book, possibly even an out-and-out theology discussion. What I got, instead, is a shallow, surface-level summary with little in the way of valuable insights on the work of these fine filmmakers.

_The Dude Abides_ has one chapter dedicated to each of the Coen Bros.' 14 films. Here's what you get in each chapter:

* "The Forest," a brief introduction of sorts that sets the tone of the movie. This lasts 1 or 2 paragraphs.

* "The Trees," which is basically a film-school synopsis of the film. This can run anywhere from, about 6 pages (_Intolerable Cruelty_) to 10 pages (_No Country For Old Men_), with most being about 8 pages. And make no mistake, this is pretty much synopsis. While it carries the occasional aside or insight, it doesn't engage in deep analysis. If you've seen the film, there's a good chance you'll get bored quick.

* "The Moral of the Story," where the author offers what she thinks the film "means". These insights are often shallow, offering little more than you and your friends already figured out if you ever spent an afternoon talking about these films over lunch or during a long car ride. These are usually only a paragraph in length, sometimes two.

I am not kidding! Out of each approx. 10 page chapter, 80% is used up by film synopsis! And then in the end, she offers up her "Conclusions," which run about a page, and some Group Study questions such as ""After exploring the Coen's fourteen films, what do you think the brothers make of God?
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful By D. E. Eutsey on September 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
In The Dude Abides--The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, award-winning religious columnist Cathleen Falsani offers a unique and engaging look at the "spiritual messages" she finds permeating the Coen Brothers' movies.

Now, "spiritual message." Odds are, that's not what most moviegoers expect to find in the darkly comic and brutally violent cinematic vision of Joel and Ethan Coen. Neither is the word "gospel," for that matter. While wisely resisting the temptation to cram their films into what she calls a "God-shaped box," Falsani succeeds in tracing the theological threads she sees holding the "Coeniverse" together.

She writes, "While marked by murder, mayhem, deception, and all manner of chaos, there is an order--a moral order--to the world depicted in Joel and Ethan Coen's films. That's the good news. The bad news is that when the moral order is upset, the consequences can be dire, brutal, and swift."

Published by Zondervan, a Christian book publisher whose mission, according to its website, is to produce "resources that glorify Jesus Christ and promote biblical principles," The Dude Abides will probably challenge (in a good way) the expectations of Zondervan's evangelical readers as well as the more secular-minded among Coen Brother fans.

As a self-described "sometimes churchgoing Catholic-turned-Baptist-turned-freelance Episcopalian" who has interviewed the likes of Bono from U2 and some guy who ran for president named Barack Obama, Falsani is certainly up to the challenge of navigating her text between the two groups. Her down-to-earth writing style glides easily from summarizing convoluted Coen Brother movie plots to drawing from Zen Buddhism, Jewish mysticism, and her own open-hearted Christian faith to interpret them.
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