Book Review: Agenda for Biblical People

Agenda for Biblical People: A New Focus for Developing a Life-Style of Discipleship by Jim Wallis (New York: Harper & Row, 1976. 126 pp) Jim Wallis is a bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He serves as the chair of the Global Agenda Council on Faith for the World Economic Forum. President and CEO of Sojourners, Wallis contributes columns in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe. He teaches a course at Georgetown University and lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Joy Carroll. The Sins of Prosperity  In the wake of victory in World War II, the United States encountered unprecedented prosperity. Of course, the… Read More →

Book Review: The Lifespan of a Fact

The Lifespan of a Fact by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 128 pp John D’Agata is the author of About a Mountain and Halls of Fame, and editor of The Next American Essay and The Lost Origins of the Essay. He teaches creative writing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he lives. Jim Fingal worked for several years as a fact-checker at The Believer and McSweeney’s, where he worked on the titles What Is the What, Surviving Justice, Voices from the Storm, and others. He currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he designs software. Evaluating Truth Recently, I engaged in an existential debate regarding the meaning of book evaluation. My… Read More →

Book Review: The Snow Child

The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey (New York: Reagan Arthur Books, 2012. 400 pp) Named after a character in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Eowyn Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. Educated at Western Washington University and the University of Alaska, Anchorage, Ivey began her career as a reporter for the Frontiersman. Her award-winning articles have been published in the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Magazine, and other publications. Currently, Ivey works at Fireside Books, an independent bookstore. The Snow Child is Ivey’s debut novel. The Space between Reality and Fantasy  One of my favorite movies of all time, Pan’s Labyrinth earned critical acclaim and an Academy Award for… Read More →

Television Show Review: Awake

 Awake created by Kyle Killen (Letter Eleven, Teakwood Lane Productions, 20th Century Fox Television. Airs Thursday night on NBC.) Starring Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, and Dylan Minnette. Cogito Ergo Sum  René Descartes seemingly graces the annals of history exclusively for the quote, “I think; therefore I am.” The sentence is an answer on a high school history quiz; it is chiseled in the foundations of university philosophy departments. Unhooked from its preceding line of reasoning on the pursuit of epistemological truth, the sentence sounds painfully obvious. By positing that thinking is his conclusive proof of his existence, Descartes asserts that all other sensory experience might be false. As such, the all-too-familiar notion of a realistic dream offers questions. If a… Read More →

Book Group: My Name is Red

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk; translated by Erdaǧ Göknar (New York: Knopf, 2001. 536 pp) Set in Istanbul during the Ottoman Empire, My Name Is Red functions as a murder mystery at its core. In its simplest construction, the plot of this novel seeks to find out who-done-it. Yet, the strength of this prize-winning story lies not in its plot but in its poetic language and descriptive setting. The main characters frequent the miniaturist scene painting illustrations for the Sultan. With a recent commission from the sovereign causing uproar, a murder occurs and the victim’s associates become the most likely suspects. Andrew: This novel has an intriguing narrative structure. How do you feel that impacted the novel as… Read More →

Book Review: The Illumination

The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier (New York: Pantheon Books, 2011. 272 pp) Kevin Brockmeier is the author of The View from the Seventh Layer, The Brief History of the Dead, The Truth about Celia, Things That Fall from the Sky, and two children’s novels. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Oxford American, The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists, among other publications. He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. Illustrate and Elevate While in high school, I learned a writing technique that remains a tried-and-true method for introducing an essay, lecture, or blog post. Coined “illustrate and elevate,” the procedure… Read More →

Book Review: A Theology for the Social Gospel

A Theology for the Social Gospel by Walter Rauschenbusch (Mansifeld Centre: Martino Publishing, 2011; originally published in 1918. 290 pp) Walter Rauschenbusch was the leading proponent of the Social Gospel Movement whose mission was to reform society to meet the social needs of the poor through the ministrations of the institutional church. PBS recently called him “one of the most influential American religious leaders of the last 100 years.” The Nature of Sin and Salvation  When attempting to manufacture a systematic theology, the nature of sin and salvation becomes integral components of the position. Slight changes in these core beliefs cause vast differences externally. Having previously labored toward the notion of “the social gospel,” Walter Rauschenbusch writes A Theology for… Read More →

Television Show Review: Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire: Season One created by Terence Winter (Home Box Office, Leverage Management, Closest to the Hole Productions) Starring Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, and Kelly Macdonald. In Praise of the Anti-Hero  Not to say that the anti-hero is a recent development in storytelling, but it seems like the last ten years have seen a rise in the flawed protagonist. Whether Dexter Morgan in Dexter, Walter White in Breaking Bad, or Don Draper in Mad Men, many current shows extol depravity and require the viewer to root for the “bad guy”. Boardwalk Empire’s Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is another character to add to this list. Boardwalk Empire: Season One tells the tale of prohibition-era Atlantic City and the politician who… Read More →

Book Review: Zone One

Zone One: A Novel by Colson Whitehead (New York: Doubleday, 2011. 272 pp) Colson Whitehead was born in 1969 and raised in Manhattan. He attended Harvard College and afterward he began working as a reviewer for The Village Voice. Out of the gate, Whitehead’s fiction gained acclaim when his first novel, The Intuitionist, won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award. His work has earned him the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. Also, Whitehead has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Knives and Reason Aristotle, when expanding on his defense of virtue ethics, contends that humans act ethically when… Read More →

Book Review: Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century

Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century: The Classic That Woke Up the Church by Walter Rauschenbusch; edited by Paul Raushenbush (New York: HarperOne, 2008. 400 pp) Walter Rauschenbusch was the leading proponent of the Social Gospel Movement whose mission was to reform society to meet the social needs of the poor through the ministrations of the institutional church. PBS recently called him “one of the most influential American religious leaders of the last 100 years.” Paul Raushenbush, great-grandson of Walter Rauschenbusch, was associate dean or religious life and the chapel at Princeton University and current religion editor at the Huffington Post. He has served as an associate minister at the Riverside Church in New York City and… Read More →