Book Review: You Are What You Love

You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K. A. Smith (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2016. 224 pp) James K. A. Smith is the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview at Calvin College. With a background in philosophy focused on French thought, Smith engages as a public intellectual and cultural critic. In addition to his published books, Smith has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, Christianity Today, and The Hedgehog Review. A Divided World We live in a divided world. The obvious unpacking of this statement surrounds divisive politics or schisms between worldviews. But, our experiences are divided even at a metaphysical level. In other words,… Read More →

Book Review: Heroes of the Frontier

Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers

Heroes of the Frontier: A Novel by Dave Eggers (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 400 pp) Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Dave Eggers attended the University of Illinois but dropped out to take care of his younger brother in the wake of his parent’s death. These experiences are chronicled in Eggers’ best-selling memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. In addition to published works, he has founded McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house, and 826 National, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for kids 6-18 in urban areas across the nation. Dad Brain Whenever my family attends a social gathering, I often find myself equally present and aloof. I engage in conversation, attempt witticism, hope to be a contributor to the… Read More →

Film Review: Green Room

Green Room

Green Room written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (A24, Broad Green Pictures, Film Science, R, 95 min) Starring Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, David W. Thompson, Eric Edelstein, Macon Blair, Imogen Poots, and Patrick Stewart. A Tough Genre to Master When it comes to uncomfortable viewing, the horror/suspense genre takes the cake. The viewer knows most of the characters aren’t going to make it; the question becomes the “why” and the “how” of the demise. The difficulty of the genre lies in replicating realism. Most days, killers aren’t stalking groups of friends a la I Know What You Did Last Summer. The writer and director must think carefully about the best possible way to conjure a scenario… Read More →

Book Review: Moonglow

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Moonglow: A Novel by Michael Chabon (New York: Harper, 2016. 448 pp) One of the most celebrated writers of his generation according to The Virginia Quarterly Review, Michael Chabon was born in Washington D.C. He earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.F.A from the University of California, Irvine. Chabon published his first novel, The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh, from his master’s thesis at the age of 25. His third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union won Chabon the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. Hiking Mount Constitution A decade ago and an era far far away, I took my wife—then girlfriend—to the oasis known as the… Read More →

Book Review: The Twelve

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The Twelve: A Novel by Justin Cronin (New York: Ballantine Books, 2012. 608 pp) Justin Cronin is the author of The Passage, The Twelve, Mary and O’Neil, and The Summer Guest. His work has earned him a PEN/Hemingway Award, a Stephen Crane Prize, Whiting Writer’s Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Houston, Texas with his family. *Spoiler Alert for the Previous Books* Let’s Talk Plot and Structure Even though narratives can take many forms and stylistic flourishes, I tend to enjoy the prologue. This excerpt at the beginning of a story allows the author to set the stage and make statements about the overarching themes to come. When I think of the… Read More →

Top 40 Albums of 2016

40. Happiness Is not a Place by The Wind and the Wave Catchy and upbeat folk rock.   39. Stay Gold by the Butch Walker A reincarnation of the boss. Pure rock ‘n’ roll.   38. Max Jury by Max Jury Reserved and introspective. A solid voice, soft but powerful.   37. Therapy Session by NF Christian hip-hop from the dark side. 36. Ouroboros by Ray LaMontagne Ray LaMontagne continues his quest to be a classic-rock star.   35. Hymns by Bloc Party Bloc Party adds an organ to their sound and questions of faith to their lyrics.   34. A/B by Kaleo In the spirit of all Icelandic music, Kaleo plays music against beautiful backdrops. The band also has the blues.   33. The Ride by Catfish and the Bottlemen The 2016 nominee for Oasis impersonation…. Read More →

Book Review: Man’s Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, translated by Ilse Lasch (Boston: Beacon Press, 1959, 1962, 1984, 1992, and 2006. 184 pp) Viktor Frankl is an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. Frankl’s memoir of his time in the Nazi concentration camps became a foundational element of his psychological and existential philosophy. Frankl died in 1997. The Holocaust Museum In high school, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for a youth leadership conference. The event included high schoolers nominated from their respective schools across the United States. The principal aim of the conference was to educate the future leaders of America on the minutiae of D.C. politics. We created a pseudo-government and tried to lobby for… Read More →

Book Review: Confident Pluralism

Confident Pluralism by John Inazu

Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving through Deep Difference by John D. Inazu (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016. 176 pp) John D. Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis. He earned a B.S.E. in civil engineering from Duke University, a J.D. from Duke University School of Law, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina. We’re All Talking Politics, Even If We Aren’t on the Same Page 2016. What a year. There’s a meme making circles on the internet highlighting how people felt at the beginning of the year compared to now. Often connected to a series of images, the early 2016… Read More →

Film Review: Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (Affleck/Middleton Project, B Story, Big Indie Pictures, R, 137 min) Starring Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, and Lucas Hedges. Armchair Psychology Putting on my armchair psychologist bow tie, I’ll make an unfounded proclamation: we link emotional resonance to physical location. For example, we develop deep, nostalgic feelings for locations around the campus of our alma mater. Personally, my wedding location conjures feelings of love and joy. The sights, sounds, and smells of an area lodge deep in our souls. While watching the acclaimed Manchester by the Sea, I kept thinking about this phenomenon. New England Meets the Atlantic Set in New England, Manchester by the Sea depicts… Read More →