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 →

Film Review: Minimalism

Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things directed by Matt D’Avella (Catalyst, NR, 79 min) Starring Dan Harris and Joshua Becker. The Pursuit of Happyness What makes you happy? This enigmatic pursuit devours everyone who tries to crack the code. In philosophical ethics, the hedonist’s paradox provides an odd truism for the fleeting pursuit of happiness. In essence, the hedonist’s paradox suggests that the hedonist, a person pursuing pleasure as his or her ultimate end, will never find it. Story after story narrates this fruitless endeavor. The more a person pursues happiness, the unhappier she gets. And yet, when she stops trying to discover happiness, it serendipitously arrives. Thus, the only path toward happiness is to not look for happiness. Yea… Read More →

Film Review: Inside Out

Inside Out

Inside Out written and directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen (Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, PG, 95 min) Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, and Kyle MacLachlan. Trying Something Different How often do you have a million-dollar idea? I don’t know about you, but it seems like I’ve got something that could generate revenue every month. Granted, I’m pretty sure these ideas are worse than Tom Haverford’s ideas in Parks and Recreation, but it’s still fun to imagine how these concepts could become reality. Honestly, ideas represent the easy portion of any project. The sweat emerges in the details. How can this idea breathe new life?… Read More →

Book Review: The Buried Giant

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. 336 pp) Born in 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan, Kazuo Ishiguro moved with his family to England in 1960. Ishiguro attended the University of Kent receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1978 and continued his education at the University of East Anglia obtaining a master’s degree in creative writing in 1980. A celebrated novelist, Ishiguro has been nominated four times for the Man Booker Prize, winning it in 1989 for his work, The Remains of the Day. Recently, Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go, was adapted to a full-length film featuring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield. Ishiguro resides in London with his wife and daughter. Ignorance Is Bliss… Read More →

Book Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013. 784 pp) Donna Tartt was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, and is a graduate of Bennington College. She is the author of the novels, The Secret History and The Little Friend, which have been translated into thirty languages. In Appreciation of Beauty The creative endeavor represents a fascinating aspect of humanity. We all, more or less, respect aesthetics. Some might not have the ability to discern and deconstruct art, but at a basic level we all hold the ability to say, “That is beautiful.” Art transforms us. We value it and pass it down from generation to generation. There’s even a philosophy of aesthetics that suggests art possesses mystical… Read More →

Album Review: Silver & Gold

Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10 by Sufjan Stevens (Asthmatic Kitty, 2012.) Sufjan Stevens is an American singer-songwriter born in Detroit, Michigan and based in Brooklyn, New York. Stevens has released many albums of varying styles but is perhaps best known for Come On Feel the Illinoise, a concept album based on the state of Illinois. Stevens collaborates often with a variety of musicians and his work has received much critical acclaim. A Magical Time of Year, A Complicated Time of Year Isn’t December a magical time of year? The air seems to fill with the spirit of the season. People buzz around grabbing gifts, attending holiday parties, imbibing in spirits, and viewing Christmas lights. There is a… Read More →