Book Review: Confessions of a Pagan Nun

Confessions of a Pagan Nun: A Novel by Kate Horsley (Boston: Shambhala, 2001. 208 pp) Kate Horsley is an award-winning novelist and poet who writes about the untold lives of people who lived during times of dramatic historical upheaval. She teaches English at Central New Mexico Community College. Tracing History I know it is a pretty obvious statement but have you considered the differences between modern life and those of our ancestors. Obviously, from a technological perspective, life is irreversibly different; shelter to transportation, nutrition to wellness—every aspect of life carries little to no resemblance to the lives of people 100 years ago, let alone those living much earlier in our shared history. Interestingly, consider the advancement of Christianity. Over… Read More →

Book Review: Tulips & Chimneys

Tulips & Chimneys by E. E. Cummings (New York: Liveright, 1996; originally published in 1923. 208 pp) Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, E. E. Cummings was a poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright. He was among the most influential, widely read, and revered modernist poets. His many awards included an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Bollingen Prize. Let’s Tear It Down! Deconstruction is easy. Whenever someone takes a stand, a myriad of critics file out of the woodwork like termites scoping a new meal. Whether it is art, philosophy, theology, political theory, or a position on parenting, the easiest response is a critique—objections to an argument’s premises in order to render the entire idea void. And… Read More →

Television Show Review: Boardwalk Empire: Season 2

Boardwalk Empire: Season Two created by Terence Winter (Home Box Office, Leverage Management, Closest to the Hole Productions) Starring Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, and Kelly Macdonald. Real People Do you ever feel like characters in television series lack depth? On one side, they exist as a funnel for catch phrases and pithy one-liners. On the other side, characters represent philosophical systems. Their mannerisms and dialogue feel stunted, unusual, and unreal. Why is it so difficult to write real people? Boardwalk Empire seems to do it well. The Power Play of Atlantic City Season Two begins with James “Jimmy” Darmody (Michael Pitt) conspiring with his father, the Commodore (Dabney Coleman), and Elias “Eli” Thompson (Shea Whigham) to remove Enoch “Nucky” Thompson… Read More →

Book Review: Varamo

Varamo by César Aira; translated by Chris Andrews (New York: New Directions, 2012; originally published in 2002. 144 pp) Born in 1949 in Coronel Pringles, a town on the southern edge of the Argentine Pampas, César Aira is a novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He settled in Buenos Aires in 1967 and has earned a living through teaching and translating from French and English. He has published more than eighty novels. Chris Andrews has won the TLS Valle Inclán Prize and the PEN Translation Prize for his New Directions translations of Roberto Bolaño. A poet who lives and teaches in Australia, he has translated eight Bolaño books and three novels by César Aira for New Directions. One Day A… Read More →

Book Review: Mr. Fox

Mr. Fox: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi (New York: Riverhead Books, 2011. 336 pp) Helen Oyeyemi is the author of The Icarus Girl; The Opposite House, which was a nominee for the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; and White Is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Riverhead Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. Occam’s Razor In general, I recommend living under the Occam’s razor principle. It urges its followers to submit… Read More →

Film Discussion: Skyfall

Skyfall written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan; directed by Sam Mendes (MGM, Danjaq, and Eon Productions, PG-13, 143 minutes) Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Bérénice Marlohe. We Meet Again, Bond Skyfall finds James Bond (Daniel Craig) presumed dead after a mission gone wrong. M (Judy Dench) makes the call to fire upon a mercenary whom Bond has tracked down. The catch, however, is that Bond is in the crosshairs of another agent. Battling this mercenary, there is no clean shot for Bond’s fellow agent, Eve (Naomie Harris). Upon taking the shot on M’s order, she hits Bond. A few months later and connected to the mission leading to Bond’s MIA… Read More →

Book Review: Money, Greed, and God

Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem by Jay W. Richards (New York: HarperOne, 2009. 272 pp) Jay Richards, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute where he directs the Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality, and is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. The Complicated Relationship between Money and the Church The church holds a complicated relationship with capitalism. On one side, it praises business for its instrumental purpose within its walls. Business creates wealth which, in turn, funnels into Church programs through the donations of the congregation. At the same time, business operates under self-interest, a seemingly anti-Christian position asserting “Greed is good”. What is… Read More →

Book Review: Catch-22

Catch-22: A Novel by Joseph Heller (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996; originally published in 1955. 544 pp) Born in Brooklyn, Joseph Heller joined the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, Heller studied English at USC and NYU before earning an M.A. at Columbia University. Later, he studied at Oxford University as a Fulbright Scholar. Famous for Catch-22, Heller became a world renowned author and satirist. He died in 1999. That’s it for Me! George Costanza never spoke more truth than the day he decided to follow Jerry Seinfeld’s advice and leave on a high note. Whenever he enraptured a room with an exceptional joke, he immediately left. While reading Joseph Heller’s groundbreaking Catch-22, I… Read More →

Book Review: How People Change

How People Change by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp (Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2006. 255 pp) Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp are counselors and faculty members at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation in Glendale, Pa. and lecturers in practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. Give It 50 Pages Nancy Pearl isn’t the only one with this argument, but I heard it from her first so she’s getting credit. Statistically speaking, there are more books in the world than any one person could ever read in a lifetime. Your reading time is sacred and finite. Pearl, thus, urges her followers to avoid reading books they find unrewarding. Give a book 50 pages; if it doesn’t grip… Read More →

Album Review: The Heist

The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (Macklemore LLC, 2012. 61 minutes) Macklemore is the moniker for Seattle-based rapper, Ben Haggerty. Macklemore has worked closely with his producer, Ryan Lewis, to release 2 full length albums and 3 EPs. Macklemore’s latest album, The Heist, debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200. Call Me Never Never a big fan of Top 40 radio, you can often hear snarky comments and extensive criticism from me whenever the radio is on. Most often, my critique falls sharply on menial lyrics. The songwriters behind the biggest hits know how to write music. Sadly, they also realize the average listener requires no challenge from the lyrics. Take, for example, the current hit, “Call Me… Read More →