Access America

Popular Culture, History, and Current Events

The Most Romantic Night of the Year?

By Evangelia Kindinger

Photo credit: Tom Rickhuss on Unsplash

On October 28, the Hallmark Channel launched its annual “Countdown to Christmas.” During the eight weeks before Christmas, the channel will broadcast 21 original movies that are all about Christmas and the spirit of the holidays. Established in 2001, the Hallmark Channel is a subsidiary of the company that has provided many Americans with sappy greeting cards for all occasions. The Christmas movies continue with the company’s tradition of kitsch, especially romantic kitsch, as shown in not-so-subtle titles, such as A December Bride (2016), My Christmas Love (2016), or Marry Me at Christmas (2017). Christmas, it seems, is not primarily about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ – or, like in my family, food – but about finding love in the midst of snowy landscapes, hot cocoa, and conveniently hung mistletoes.

Read more »

Topping off Thanksgiving Traditions: Turkey with Cranberry Sauce

By Sabrina Völz

ThanksgivingThanksgiving is a day for spending time with family and friends as well as sharing culinary delights, such as turkey, dressing (a Mid-Western word for stuffing), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, relish trays, salads, cranberry sauce, and pie for dessert. I still have nostalgic feelings for the days when Thanksgiving was about the only holiday that hadn’t been ruined by commercialization.

I like the holiday and cherish childhood memories. In my family, there was never talk of the Pilgrims or any national Thanksgiving folklore, as it was more or less celebrated as a religious holiday, as a day to give thanks for all of life’s many blessings. After eating a Thanksgiving feast, the majority of the family on my mother’s side played 500 (a card game) literally for hours, while others watched football games and Thanksgiving parades. But each family who celebrates Thanksgiving will have their own traditions.

Read more »

Love no more? Catalonia and Spain

By Michael Lederer

Photo Credit: Michael Lederer – The two-arms-raised replica of the Statue of Liberty was a gift to the town of Cadaqués from the manager of Salvador Dali.

CADAQUÉS, Catalonia, Spain – Dispatch from Spain’s Cold Civil War.

Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics are local.” In today’s world, no politics are local.

Both Donald Tusk from the European Union and Donald Trump from the United States have issued recent statements supporting a view of the Catalonian conflict as an internal matter. Yet the very fact that both leaders felt called to comment on it reveals that Barcelona’s relation to Madrid has the easy potential to affect wider interests even as far away as Washington.

Read more »

Escaping Fundamentalism: An Interview with Charlene L. Edge (Part II)

By Maria Moss

Image Credit:

After last week’s introduction to the seductive power of the fundamentalist cult “The Way International” and the practice of speaking in tongues, in this installment, readers will find out more about both Charlene Edge’s “faded scars” as well as memories of happier times while serving The Way. Charlene also shares insider perspectives on The Way’s teachings and comments on her relationship to religion and spirituality today. One of this talented memoirist’s greatest passions has become her mission to warn people about The Way, a non-profit organization that not only controls all aspects of its members’ lives, but also their purse strings.

Read more »

Escaping Fundamentalism: An Interview with Charlene L. Edge (Part I)

By Maria Moss

Image Credit:

In her award-winning book Undertow, Charlene Edge dissects her past as a long-time member of one of the largest fundamentalist cults in the United States, “The Way International.” Undertow is a demonstration of the dangers of fundamentalism and the destructive nature of cults. Through her personal story, Charlene Edge shows how a vulnerable person can be seduced into following an authoritarian leader and how difficult it can be to find a way out.

Charlene’s experiences with “The Way” depicts the downward spiraling of a college student who – for reasons all her own – fell for a certain kind of propaganda. Now, if it happened to her, why not to you? To us?

Read more »

9/11 – The Only Plane in the Sky

By Isabella Strauch

“WTC Smoking” by Michael Foran

The attacks on the World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon in September 2001, dubbed 9/11, were a major news event. As is the case with traumatic events, people often remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. With 9/11, however, visual images have been engraved in people’s minds as well: a plane flying into the towers and people subsequently – out of sheer desperation – jumping out of windows. Michael Moore’s documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, offers an alternative media perspective signifying 9/11: that of a president overwhelmed by the news and incapable of an immediate reaction.

Read more »