Book Review: Between Heaven and Mirth

Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life by James Martin, SJ (New York: Harper One, 2011. 272 pp) Rev. James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America Magazine, and bestselling author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and Between Heaven and Mirth. Father Martin has written for many publications, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and he is a regular commentator in the national and international media. He has appeared on all the major radio and television networks, as well as in venues ranging from NPR’s Fresh Air, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, and PBS’s NewsHour to Comedy Central’s… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Leftovers: Season 3

The Leftovers Season 3

The Leftovers: Season 3 created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta (HBO, Film 44, Warner Bros. Television) Starring Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Kevin Carrol, Jovan Adepo, and Scott Glenn. Yin and Yang The most beautiful aspects of life aren’t necessarily the ones that lead to the most happiness. I’ve always been struck by the symbiotic relationship between elements, to the point where the definition of one exists only as the opposite of another. The classic yin to the yang. Light has meaning only in comparison to darkness. Darkness is an absence of light. The qualities of goodness glean meaning in contrast to elements of evil. And so it is with happiness. We cherish happiness because we… Read More →

Book Review: Silence

Silence by Endo

Silence: A Novel by Shūsaku Endō, translated by William Johnston (New York: Picador, 2016; originally published in 1969. 256 pp) Born in Tokyo in 1923, Shūsaku Endō was raised by his mother and an aunt in Kobe, where he converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of eleven. At Tokyo’s Keio University, he majored in French literature, graduating with a BA in 1949, before furthering his studies in French Catholic literature at the University of Lyon in France between 1950 and 1953. Before his death in 1996, Endō was the recipient of a number of outstanding Japanese literary awards: the Akutagawa Prize, Mainichi Cultural Prize, Shincho Prize, and the Tanizaki Prize, and was widely considered the greatest Japanese novelist of… Read More →

Book Review: The Big Picture

The Big Picture by Sean Carroll

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll (New York: Dutton, 2016. 480 pp) Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He has been awarded prizes and fellowships by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of London. His most recent award was a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015. He is the author of From Eternity to Here and The Particle at the End of the Universe. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jennifer Ouellette. On Ontology We all have a reason for being…. Read More →

Television Show review: The Leftovers: Season 2

The Leftovers Season 2

The Leftovers: Season 2 created by Damon Lindelof (Warner Bros. Television) Starring Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Chris Zylka, Margaret Qualley, Regina King, Kevin Carroll, Jovan Adepo, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Carrie Coon. *SPOILER ALERT FOR PREVIOUS SEASONS* So That You Might Believe What are the parameters of your belief? In a post-modern society, many might not consider belief to be a warranted pursuit. But, in truth, we all believe something. For the rationalist and the naturalist, that faith might connect to scientific pursuits. For others, belief might correspond with a person—the savior of a certain group, or the benefactor of another. And many channel belief into an organized religion. But at its core, faith is required… Read More →

Book Review: The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by José Saramago; translated by Giovanni Pontiero (Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 1991. 396 pp) José Saramago was a Nobel Prize-winning author from Portugal. He passed away at the age of 87 on June 18, 2010. Although Saramago did not receive widespread recognition until he was 60 years old, he has been highly prolific in the years since. Blindness, one of Saramago’s most highly regarded books was made into a major motion picture in 2008. He is survived by his wife Pilar Del Rio and a daughter from a previous marriage. Giovanni Pontiero was a British scholar and Portuguese translator. He studied at the University of Glasgow. He taught at Victoria University of Manchester and died… Read More →

Book Review: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour: A Novel by Joshua Ferris (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. 352 pp) Joshua Ferris is the author of two previos novels, Then We Came to the End and The Unnamed. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and The Best American Short Stories. Ferris was chosen for The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list of fiction writers in 2010. He Lives in New York Modernity Examined The modern world offers an exorbitant amount of preposterousness when considered deeply. We’re an advanced culture that’s been able to push past the limitations of Babel, and yet we don’t want to go beyond “good morning” with our co-workers, people we… Read More →

Book Review: Elders

Elders by Ryan McIlvain

Elders: A Novel by Ryan McIlvain (London: Hogarth, 2013.  304 pp) Ryan McIlvain was born in Utah and raised in Massachusetts. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in many journals, including the Paris Review. A graduate of the Rutgers MFA program and a recipient of the Stegner Fellowship at Stanford, he currently lives with his wife in Los Angeles. Shotgun Gospel Even though I’ve grown up in the Christian faith and continue to hold to the basic tenets of its tradition, I’ve always felt a little uneasy about the Evangelical push toward proselytizing. There’s a sense in which your work holds value only as much as you are able to convert others to the faith. The gospel mandate to share… Read More →

Book Review: Every Good Endeavor

Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf (New York: Dutton, 2012. 288 pp) Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. In 1989, he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Katherine Leary Alsdorf worked twenty-five years in the high-tech industry as an economic analyst and in various executive leadership positions. After her CEO roles at One Touch Systems and Pensare, Redeemer Presbyterian Church recruited her to lead the church’s efforts in marketplace ministry, now called the Center for Faith & Work. Defining Point The year between my undergraduate and… Read More →

Album Review: Modern Vampires of the City

Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend.

Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend (XL, 2013. 42 minutes) Vampire Weekend is an American rock band from New York formed during the member’s time at Columbia University. The band has released 3 studio albums to critical acclaim. We All Change Whether Evangelical, Catholic, Buddhist, agnostic, or atheist, it seems as if the belief tradition in which you grew up changes with age. Some completely shift from one side of the spectrum to the other; others discover a more nuanced change, keeping the root beliefs but applying them differently. What was once blindly accepted due to parents’ beliefs now becomes something worth testing. Is this belief true? Does it withstand scrutiny and a critical eye? On the other… Read More →