Book Review: The World to Come

The World to Come by Jim Shepard

The World to Come: Stories by Jim Shepard (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017. 272 pp) Jim Shepard is the author of four previous collections, including Like You’d Understand, Anyway, which won The Story Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his short fiction has often been selected for Best American Short Stories and The Pen/O Henry Prize Stories. The most recent of his seven novels, The Book of Aron, won the PEN/New England Award and the Sophie Brody Medal for Excellence in Jewish Literature. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children and three beagles, and he teaches at Williams College. Who Needs Pay? A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s… Read More →

Book Review: Aquarium

Aquarium by David Vann

Aquarium by David Vann (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2015. 272 pp) David Vann’s work has earned numerous awards and has been featured in the Atlantic Monthly, The Guardian, and McSweeey’s, among others. He is a former Guggenheim fellow, National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Wallace Stegner fellow, and John L’Heureux fellow. He has earned degrees from Stanford and Cornell and currently teaches as a professor at the University of Warwick. A Roof over Your Head What would you do to put a roof over your child’s head? The prospect of passing on a legacy motivates many to great heights. But what about those people who never had a chance to get the kind of education and experience needed to… Read More →

Television Show Review: Chef’s Table

Chef's Table

Chef’s Table created by David Gelb (Boardwalk Pictures, City Room Creative) Starring Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallman, Niki Nkayama, Magnus Nilsson, and Ben Shewry. Getting Philosophical Upon entry to my preferred academic institution, my parents provided ample pressure to study business. I understand the position. What is college if not a place to earn a degree to set yourself up for consistent success? Unfortunately, my passions—at the time—orbited separate academic pursuits. Even though I have a passion for business, my reasoning for avoiding its study remains consistent. The study of business, at its core, is a normative practice. It tells you what to do and what not to do; if you can master the complicated functions, you have the… Read More →

Book Review: The Fabric of this World

The Fabric of this World by Lee Hardy

The Fabric of this World: Inquiries into Calling, Career Choice, and the Design of Human Work by Lee Hardy (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 1990. 214 pp) Lee Hardy is a professor of philosophy at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has written articles in the areas of philosophy and the theology of vocation. Disengaged The latest Gallup poll on employee engagement, now a couple of years old, tells a dark story. 70% of the workforce is disengaged. Even worse, 30% of the workforce actively inhibits the productive means of industry. In other words, we hate work. The majority of people find work barely tolerable at best. But not something upon which you can build purpose and meaning. For some,… Read More →

Book Review: The Kingdom Net

The Kingdom Net by Joseph Castleberry

The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network like Jesus by Joseph Castleberry (Springfield: My Healthy Church, 2013. 312 pp) Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. Raised in Alabama and educated at Evangel University (BA), Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv), and Columbia University (EdD), he has served as a youth pastor, campus minister, church planter, university professor, missionary to Latin America, community development entrepreneur, seminary dean, and college president. He is also the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s True Vision for Your Life (Experience the Life) (NavPress, 2012). A Theology of Work Given my background, I will always have room for books giving accounts on a theology of work. In truth, work can be a nasty environment… Read More →

Book Review: Horrorstör

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Horrorstör: A Novel by Grady Hendrix (Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2014. 240 pp) Grady Hendrix has written for Variety, Slate, the New York Post, Playboy, Village Voice, Strange Horizons, and the anthology The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination. He spent several years answering the phone for a parapsychological research organization. He is currently employed by Orsk, Manhattan. Work as Occupation It’s startling and a bit over the top, but the theory behind work hasn’t changed much. We still live in a Taylorist world where the heart and soul of employee matter little and the efficiency and productivity of the employee matter greatly. The marketing team can dress up the work in all these high-minded ideals but too often this corporate… Read More →

Television Show Review: Mad Men: Season 7.1

Mad Men Season 7.1

Mad Men: Season 7.1 created by Matthew Weiner (Lionsgate Television, Weiner Bros., American Movie Classics) Starring Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, and Kiernan Shipka. *Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons* The Pitch The season begins with a pitch, work that is the central aspect behind Mad Men the series. But this time, peripatetic soul and principal character, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) isn’t giving it. Deep in the spiraling orbit of “leave” from Sterling Cooper, Don twiddles his thumbs and keeps up appearances for his wife Megan (Jessica Paré) as they attempt a bi-coastal relationship. Don dulls the monotony of life with endless television as he awaits a call from the firm he created, hoping… Read More →

Book Review: Surprised by Hope

Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N. T. Wright (New York: HarperOne, 2008.  352 pp) N.T. Wright studied at Sedbergh School and Exeter College before being ordained as a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College. Wright taught at Cambridge, McGill, and Oxford University before becoming the Bishop of Durham. Recently, he took a position as a Chair in New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews. Heaven, Are You Really Waiting Outside the Door? When I was young, heaven scared me silly. If pressed, I’d certainly contend that I wanted to be there instead of the standard Christian alternatives. To put it bluntly, the thought of spending eternity in… Read More →

Book Review: The Childhood of Jesus

The Childhood of Jesus by J. M. Coetzee

The Childhood of Jesus by J. M. Coetzee (New York: Viking, 2013. 288 pp) John Maxwell (J. M.) Coetzee is a Nobel-Prize-winning author of South African descent. He attended St. Joseph’s College and later the University of Cape Town. He later earned a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. While working as an academic, Coetzee began writing novels. In his acclaimed literary career, Coetzee has won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, three CAN Prizes, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and became the first author to win two Man Booker Prizes. Depth A story possesses a dynamism you would never experience with a list of facts. It gives the reader an opportunity to mine the depths… Read More →

Television Show Review: Getting On: Season 1

Getting On

Getting On: Season 1 created by Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, and Joanna Scanlan (BBC Worldwide Productions, Home Box Office, Anima Sola Productions) Starring Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash, and Mel Rodriguez. Far from the Curse Is Found In the theological narrative of the fall, God curses humanity in two distinct ways: God makes childbirth incredibly painful and physical labor toilsome. While drugs have attempted to remove some of the sting from childbirth, the birthing process remains quite the ordeal. Likewise, our work seems to be unrewarding. Many people can’t stand their jobs. In fact, some statistics even suggest that number might even nudge up against 70% of the workforce. Even if we can’t possibly apply the notion of hard… Read More →