Book Review: Fire Sermon

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

Fire Sermon: A Novel by Jamie Quatro (New York: Grove Press, 2018. 224 pp) Jamie Quatro holds an MA in English from the College of William and Mary, and an MFA in fiction from the Bennington College Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s, The Kenyon Review, VQR, and Agni. Her debut collection, I Want to Show You More, gained critical acclaim and Fire Sermon is her debut novel. Quatro teaches in the MFA program at Sewanee, The University of the South. She lives with her husband and four children in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Hooked on a Feeling What’s the theological significance of a feeling? What weight should we place on those gut instincts—the emotions that… Read More →

Television Show Review: Crashing: Season 2

Crashing Season 2

Crashing: Season 2 created by Pete Holmes (HBO, Apatow Productions) Starring Pete Holmes, Artie Lange, George Basil, Lauren Lapkus, and Jamie Lee. Christians of a Particular Background For Christians of a particular background, life as a twenty-something represents a reckoning. The belief system around which life operates through school and youth group begins to crack and fissure. The world changes. Simple and straightforward answers blend into a gray stew. What used to be obvious about the way things work—the way we ought to live—transitions as novel ideas and new people enter your life. These conflicts shoot Christians in a variety of directions, like a centrifugal force pummeling Christ followers with unbearable g-forces before they fly away. Some Christians bear down… Read More →

Book Review: Barabbas

Barabbas by Par Lagerkvist

Barabbas by Pär Lagerkivst, translated by Alan Blair (New York: Vintage International, 1951. 144 pp) Pär Lagerkivst was the author of more than 35 books and was renowned for his versatility as a poet, dramatist, essayist, and novelist. In 1940 he was elected one of the 18 “Immortals” of the Swedish Academy, and in 1951 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 1974. Starring in Your Own Story Every minor character in someone else’s story is the protagonist in their own story. The best stories show character depth for everyone because we all lead our own stories. When a film, television series, or novel falters, it tends to unravel in these tertiary characters. The love interest’s… Read More →

Book Review: The Givenness of Things

The Givenness of Things by Marilynne Robinson

The Givenness of Things: Essays by Marilynne Robinson (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. 336 pp) Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, Marilynne Robinson earned her B.A. at Pembroke College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has received numerous awards, notably the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize, and a National Humanities Medal. A Moving Faith Does life require a moving faith? I ponder this question as my boy begins to enjoy attractional church services and the impending possibility of active, long-running church membership enters my thoughts. As my son begins to consider nascent… Read More →

Book Review: Forest Dark

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss

Forest Dark: A Novel by Nicole Krauss (New York: Harper, 2017. 295 pp) Nicole Krauss is an American novelist whose works include, Great House, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Orange Prize, and The History of Love, which won the Saroyan Prize for International Literature and France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger. Krauss was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and was chosen by The New Yorker for their “Twenty Under Forty” list. The Masks We Wear I wear a mask in public. It shrouds just enough of my imperfections; it accentuates elements of who I believe others would like me to be. Is “public me” really me? Does anyone outside my wife and… Read More →

Film Review: Silence

Silence

Silence written by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount Pictures, Cappa DeFina Productions, CatchPlay, EFO Films, R, 161 min) Starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Ciarán Hinds, Issei Ogata, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Yoshi Oida, and Yôsuke Kubozuka. Searching for Rootedness Is there a way for a tree to find roots in a swamp? And if not, is there a way to discover meaning and life without the particular landscaping strategy that includes this tree? Martin Scorsese raises this question in his divine masterwork, Silence. The central challenge to the Christian faith emerges in its application, like an arborist planting trees everywhere. If Christianity is true, should it not apply to all people and all… Read More →

Book Review: The Meaning of Jesus

The Meaning of Jesus

The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions by Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright (New York: Harper One, 1999. 306 pp) Marcus Borg was a New Testament scholar, theologian, and author. Borg was a fellow of the Jesus Seminar and a major figure in historical Jesus scholarship. Borg attended Concordia College as an undergraduate. He studied at Union Seminary before matriculating at Mansfield College, Oxford, earning an M.Th. and D.Phil. He retired as Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and died in 2015. N.T. Wright is a leading New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired bishop. He earned his B.A. from Exeter College and his D.D. from University of Oxford. After retiring as the Bishop of… Read More →

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: The Price of Salt

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (New York: Dover Publications, 2015; originally published in 1952. 256 pp) Patricia Highsmith was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1921. She studied English composition, playwriting, and short story at Barnard College. Highsmith wrote 22 novels during her career, including Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. She died in 1995. Who Are You? Identity is a tricky thing. When I was younger, I worried consistently about goodness. Did I possess good qualities inherently? Did I need to work for them? What did it take to be good? With a constant focus on these identity questions, I never felt whole. I had nothing obviously hindering me from living a decent life,… Read More →

Book Review: Art in Action

Art in Action by Nicholas Wolterstorff

Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic by Nicholas Wolterstorff (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980. 250 pp) Nicholas Wolterstorff is the Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School. He has also taught at Calvin College, the Free University of Amsterdam, and the University of Notre Dame. He has received numerous fellowships and serves on the editorial boards for Faith and Philosophy, Topics in Philosophy, and is the general editor for the Supplementary Textbook Project of the Christian College Coalition. In Pursuit of Art One of my most favorite classes as an undergrad explored the philosophy of art. Why do we pursue art? What constitutes a work of art compared to just work? How… Read More →