Book Review: Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus: 1818 Text by Mary Shelley, edited by Marilyn Butler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008; originally published in 1818. 276 pp) Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in 1797 to authors William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Poet Bysshe Shelly courted Mary and the pair eloped in 1814, during which that summer Mary began writing Frankenstein. She died in 1851. Marilyn Butler is a former Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, and previously King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University. Questions in the Western Cultural Canon The western cultural canon offers an intriguing case study on how the roots of a story take hold before blending into whatever a culture requires of it. What starts as… Read More →

Television Show Review: Game of Thrones: Season 7

Game of Thrones Season 7

Game of Thrones: Season 7 created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO, Television 360, Grok! Studio) Starring Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Iain Glen, Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Aidan Gillen, Conleth Hill, Gwendoline Christie, Liam Cunningham, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Jerome Flynn, Nathalie Emmanuel, Rory McCann, Carice van Houten, Kristofer Hivju, and Jacob Anderson. Narrative Rules Collectively, the human condition adapts and upholds the cultural lens of narrative rules. Much like a toddler listening to parents for months on end, picking up and parsing new words every day during the gradual transformation to understanding, so too does the consumer of pop culture begin to comprehend the structure and formatting of story…. Read More →

Film Review: Moonlight

Moonlight

Moonlight written by Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Barry Jenkins (A24, PASTEL, Plan B Entertainment, R, 111 min) Starring Mahershala Ali, Alex R. Hibbert, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris, Jaden Piner, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Trevante Rhodes, and André Holland. Life-As-It-Is vs. Life-As-It-Should-Be As a father, I often think about my son and the life I want him to lead. I constantly fret over what will make him happy and how my parenting can facilitate a path toward flourishing within family, friends, and community. Looking back the foundations of my upbringing, specifically around my church community, I see the tension between my innate personality and the idealized view of what a person ought to be given the faith… Read More →

Book Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline (New York: Broadway Books, 2011. 376 pp) Ernest Cline is a screenwriter, spoken-word artist, and full-time geek. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. Ready Player One is his first novel. To Buy and Buy Again Unfettered consumerism is probably going to kill us all. Someday, our insatiable appetites will catch up to us. Tracing the roots of consumerism often point us to the birth of advertising and marketing. The strategic impulses encouraging us to buy more than we need to account for our production surpluses. Of course, once consumption becomes normal, the next phase is to consume based on cultural… Read More →

Television Show Review: Crashing: Season 1

Crashing Season 1

Crashing: Season 1 created by Pete Holmes (HBO, Apatow Productions) Starring Pete Holmes, Lauren Lapkus, Artie Lange, and George Basil. The World Probably Doesn’t Need Another Autobiographical Show about a White Guy, But I Need this Show I know. I know. The autobiographical comedy based on a comedians’ point of view possesses no critical addition to the cultural milieu. Much like the rise of anti-hero drama in the 2000s, the autobiographical comedy has many reference points, chief of which emerges in the acclaimed series Louie highlighting the life of Louis C.K. And yet, Crashing, the vehicle for Pete Holmes’ rise into the comedy world resonates with my life to a point where I am glad it airs, despite its well-tread… Read More →

Book Review: The Real Madrid Way

The Real Madrid Way

The Real Madrid Way: How Values Created the Most Successful Sports Team on the Planet by Steven G. Mandis (Dallas: BenBella Books, 2016. 344 pp) Steven G. Mandis is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School and chairman and senior partner of Kalamata Capital. He earned his AB from the University of Chicago and his MA, MPhil, and PhD from Columbia University. Thinking about My Life’s Work A life’s work. The phrase means less than it used to mean. For most people. A life’s work will be a series of stops, likely at companies with high variance of deliverables. The daily tasks of the worker may be the same but the overarching goals or the building of something bigger than… 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 →

Book Review: Rain

Rain by Cynthia Barnett

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett (New York: Crown Publishers, 2015. 368 pp) Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water from the Suwannee River to Singapore. She is the author of two previous books, Mirage and Blue Revolution, a Boston Globe top 10 science book of 2011. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband and children. Joy of a Rainy Day Rain represents a simple joy in life. I’m not talking a deluge. Not even a monsoon. Just the simple drizzle renowned in the Pacific Northwest. I find satisfaction in a book on the porch while the syncopated patter of the rain offers a soundtrack to whatever the current narrative offers…. Read More →

Book Review: State of Wonder

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder: A Novel by Ann Patchett (New York: First Harper Perennial Olive Edition, 2014; originally published in 2012. 448 pp) Ann Patchett is the author of six novels and three books of nonfiction. Notably, she has won the Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Prize, and the Book Sense Book of the Year. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is the co-owner of Parnassus Books. The Power of Story Classically, the power of story resides in its ability to present a character that overcomes the odds. It might be the lowly knight that slays the dragon, the outcast in high school that gets the girl, the hard-working genius that pulls herself out of the standard stereotypes to be a… Read More →

Television Show Review: Homeland: Season 4

Homeland Season 4

Homeland: Season 4 developed by Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon (Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Broadcasting) Starring Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend, Tracy Letts, Maury Sterling, F. Murray Abraham, Nazanin Boniadi, Laila Robins, and Mark Moses. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons* Representing Our Culture Psyche Sometimes, the success of a show emerges from its relationship with culture. 24 represents such an example. Launched shortly after 9/11, the show quickly gained acclaim and cultural status as an hour each week where America could collectively let off steam and kill some bad guys. The show earned a die-hard following with a take-no-prisoners philosophy and carried actual stakes with many beloved characters meeting the reaper. In the broader cultural milieu,… Read More →