RELEVANT Roundtable is when we ask our slate of culture writers a question and compile their responses. This week’s question: Which pop culture work makes you cry?
Mary McCampbell: The first time I heard Sufjan Stevens’ “Casimir Pulaski Day” it pushed up against a bruised place inside of me. The song is about the loss of a high school girlfriend to bone cancer, but at its core, it’s a cry to God about the human pain of reconciling faith and loss. When Sufjan quietly sings “Tuesday night at the Bible study/ We lift our hands and pray over your body/ But nothing ever happens,” it broke me. What a poignant reminder of the first rupture in one’s earnest, yet untarnished youth group era faith. Sufjan poetically asks how he can possibly see both God and death in the same picture; the song’s narrative ends with a reminder of the cross, the divine juxtaposition of both suffering and the reality of God. It’s a song that any self-searching Christian can relate to, especially those of us who grew up in the Church.
Tyler Daswick: I cry a lot in general, but I didn’t expect to well up during Spotlight. After the final fade to black the movie presents some cards of text about church-centric abuse scandals uncovered since the 2002 Boston investigation. The cards first summarize the Boston scandals, saying over 1,000 survivors are estimated to have been victims of the local Catholic church. That’s already tough to handle, but then the movie lists the name of every city where “major abuse scandals” have been uncovered. There were 105 in America and another 101 worldwide. Those numbers are staggering, horrifying and infuriating shown in full on a screen. I won’t forget them.
Lesley Crews: If you’ve ever watched Grey’s Anatomy, odds are you know a lot about crying and getting all dark and twisted up every now and then. Grey’s harbors a lot of hard goodbyes (George, McDreamy, Denny DuQuette … *sob*), but nothing affects me quite like Cristina Yang’s farewell episode. After 10-plus seasons of investing in the weird, dance-it-out friendship between surgeons Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang, you start to feel like you’re part of the gang. And during their final goodbye, you find yourself sitting with a lump swelling in your throat, feeling as though you just said goodbye to your childhood best friend. This scene makes you long for a friendship that endearing or, if you’re lucky enough, makes you want to grab your “person” and remind them they’re the sun. Hug that person as tight as you can.
Joy Netanya Thompson: Ali Wong’s Hard Knock Wife comedy special on Netflix had me shaking with laughter, tears running down my cheeks and gasping for air, as I listened to her unflinchingly honest yet hilarious take on babies, breastfeeding and the shocking indignities of early motherhood. It’s the perfect medicine for those “laugh so you don’t cry” moments every woman experiences after becoming a mom. Note: Wong’s two Netflix specials are both super entertaining … but her rough language and sometimes raunchy jokes are not for the faint of heart!
Travis Roberts: I am not a huge movie crier (though my wife will argue otherwise), but I sobbed out loud no less than six separate times during Room. Not The Room. Room. Important distinction.
Matt Conner: I was cleaning the house this weekend and setting up Spotify beforehand on our Sonos system. I found that I’d somehow missed Chris Thile‘s latest album (Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers) from 2017, so I queued it up to play. Just two minutes later, I’m not even productive because the first song, “I Made This For You,” stopped me in my tracks for the truth it held and how much I wish I could align my life by these words. As he sings in the bridge:
“As we leave the front pages in bed
With the war raging on in our heads
I could write a swath of humanity off
’cause of something that I just read
But I don’t want to fight fire with fire
And I don’t want to preach to the choir
Giving just as much hell as I get
To people I’d prob’ly like if I met
So whether these days leave you laughing or crying
If you’re doing your best to be kind
This land is as much yours as mine
As god is my witness
I made this for you”
I can’t recommend this song enough. It’s beautiful.