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: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead (New York: Doubleday, 2016. 320 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. Victors Write History History: Written by the Victors. We discuss such a phrase most often around our… Read More →

Book Review: The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne

The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne by M.L Longworth

The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne: A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery by M. L. Longworth (New York: Penguin Books, 2015. 320 pp) M. L. Longworth is the author of the Verlaque and Bonnet mystery series set in Southern France. She has lived in France for over seventeen years and splits her time between Aix-en-Provence, where she writes, and Paris, where she teaches writing at New York University’s Paris campus. Starting from the Middle Now We’re Here My favorite television critic, Todd VanDerWerff, often bangs the drum of starting a television series at any point. If you hear a show gets going in the third season, don’t waste time with the preliminary seasons just to get to the good stuff. You’ll… 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: Strategy

Strategy by Lawrence Freedman

Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 768 pp) Lawrence Freedman studied at Whitley Bay Grammar School, Victoria University of Manchester, University of York, and University of Oxford. Freedman has held positions at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Royal Institute of International Affairs, and currently as Professor of War Studies at King’s College London. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy, appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George. What’s It All Mean Anyway? There’s a lot going on in the world. Be careful or you might get run over. With millions of people attempting to… Read More →

Book Review: The Hundred-Year House

The Hundred-Year House

The Hundred-Year House: A Novel by Rebecca Makkai (New York: Viking, 2014. 352 pp) Rebecca Makkai’s first novel, The Borrower, was a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, and an O, The Oprah Magazine selection. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, Tin House, Ploughshares, and New England Review, and has been selected four times for The Best American Short Stories. The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, she lives in Chicago and Vermont. The History of Place I live in a house nearing its one-hundredth birthday. I am aware of a few of the inhabitants before me, perhaps 5 years worth of residency. The people meandering these rooms for the other 95 years are left to the imagination…. Read More →

Book Review: The Emperor of all Maladies

The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee (London: Fourth Estate, 2011. 608 pp) Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer physician and researcher. He is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Center. Mukherjee is a Rhodes Scholar and he graduated from Stanford University, the University of Oxford, and Harvard Medical School. His book, The Emperor of all Maladies won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction. Flunking Pre-Med Since the day I learned about cancer—I mean really learned about cancer—I’ve never been the same. It was an introductory class into physiology as an undergrad. I signed up for classes late and wasn’t able to enroll in… Read More →

Book Review: Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution

Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution by Nathaniel Philibrick (New York: Viking, 2013. 416 pp) Nathaniel Philbrick is the New York Times bestselling author of National Book Award winner In the Heart of the Sea, Pulitzer Prize finalist Sea of Glory, and The Last Stand. He lives on Nantucket. Interesting History Reading can be rather relative, and, with great apologies to my history loving friends, I find most history reading rather dull. I’ve found a few gems out there, but for the most part, reading a history book can be about as riveting as watching grass grow or paint dry. That being said, I still love history. I love hearing about the past, about those that went before… Read More →

Film Review: Django Unchained

Django Unchained directed and written by Quentin Tarantino (The Weinstein Company, Columbia Pictures, and Brown 26 Productions, R, 165 minutes) Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. Revisionist History Don’t we all have the desire to rewrite history? To take back something said? Something done? Something that hurt others? What steps would you tack to right the wrongs either personally or globally? With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino certainly enjoys using the medium of film to fulfill these grand retribution schemes, but I contend that his stylistic tendencies will keep this film from winning Best Picture. Bounty Hunting The film’s eponymous character, Django (Jamie Foxx,) is a bounty hunter. He earned his freedom working with… Read More →

Film Review: Lincoln

Lincoln written by Tony Kushner and Doris Kearns Goodwin, directed by Steven Spielberg (DreamWorks Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Reliance Entertainment, PG-13, 150 minutes) Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tommy Lee Jones. The Suspension of Disbelief There’s something odd that occurs for A-list superstars. There comes a point in the actor’s life where, no matter the role, the actor overshadows the character. When Brad Pitt stars in a movie, we are watching Brad Pitt playing a character. The real-world Brad Pitt seeps into the character. Pitt’s relationship with Angelina Jolie, his outspoken views on social justice, and his constant appearances in the tabloids become a part of the film. We can’t help ourselves. That’s what popular… Read More →