Authenticating Ourselves to Death

"The only transcendence that remains is that of oneself over oneself, that of an authentic ego over an inauthentic one" --Luc Ferry, Man Made God. J.D. Salinger may be the quintessential American author of the "authentic." His most well-known character, Holden Caulfield, is obsessed with a "phony" world in which no one values innocence and sincerity, where people love bad movies and ignore true moments of beauty. This obsession has been the source of derision and popularity for The Catcher in … [Read more...]

Kurt Vonnegut: Unlikely Apologist

The late Kurt Vonnegut inspires loyalty among his readers. He’s the kind of author whose fans devour book after book, reading one after another in rapid succession. Or at least I did. Back in 1997 a coworker recommended Vonnegut to me, specifically Slaughterhouse-Five. Unable to get my hands on that novel, I checked out Deadeye Dick. I was hooked. By the end of the year, I’d read at least ten Vonnegut novels, only whetting my appetite for more.Vonnegut is often thought of as cynical, edgy, an … [Read more...]

‘Tearaway,’ Tolkien, and the Role of Sub-Creation

Warning: This article contains spoilers about the video game Tearaway.  Tearaway  I don’t think Media Molecule consciously attempted to make Tearaway (a paper-styled platform game for the PlayStation Vita) a commentary on the relationship between God and man.Take the studio’s name, Media Molecule, which suggests its role is to be a piece of the tradition of storytelling that makes up the larger body of media. The end game is contributing to capital-M Media.Or consider Tearaway itself. I … [Read more...]

Flowers in the Attic and the Allure of the Dark

As a preteen girl, my reading diet was rather heavy on empty calories found in glossy teen-romance books. The Sweet Valley High series was a mainstay, the storylines giving shape to the hope and angst I felt but was too young to name for myself. I liked that troubles always worked out in the end and that the girl always got the guy. These were simple, easy reads, depicting how I wished my life would go. I read them until one fateful day, when my quick-witted aunt grabbed a copy to see what I was … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Teaching Good Taste

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.This weekend, my family hosted a couple of out-of-town guests; we went out to dinner on Saturday evening, with the goal of finding an appropriate place for children with great food for all of us. So my husband and I fell back on our ranking of the top three French fries in the Hudson Valley, and we selected an off-time for our meal at our number one location. The … [Read more...]

The Hidden Craze Over Mein Kampf

What do Mein Kampf (written by anti-Semitic dictator Adolf Hitler) and Fifty Shades of Grey (an erotic novel that’s enraptured suburbia women book-clubs) have in common? They are selling way better as e-books. Now that the “Best of 2013” lists are finalized, several voices in the media, from the Los Angeles Times to The Guardian, have found it alarming that Mein Kampf is among the bestsellers of 2013.Ever since its release in the U.S. in 1939, the sales of Mein Kampf have steadily declined. H … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Reading The Dark as Children of the Light

I’ve been intrigued by The Dark ever since I saw it on a display table at Barnes and Noble around Halloween. Written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen, it seemed sure to be a grimly comedic gem. Best known for his Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket tones down the macabre for the younger audience of this picture book. Jon Klassen (whose work I particularly love in Extra Yarn and I Want My Hat Back) provides his typical sparse yet dramatic characters and lots of play with l … [Read more...]

12. Boxers & Saints: “Stirring Up Empathy For Those on Both Sides” #CaPC25

All this week, the writers of Christ and Pop Culture unveil their 25 most loved things of 2013.  Previous #13: Gravity#12. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang I was first introduced to Gene Luen Yang when I picked up his graphic novel, American Born Chinese, on the clearance rack at my local bookstore. Yang’s exploration of identity and assimilation through weaving the narratives of an American Chinese boy, an overwrought stereotype named Chin-Kee, and a mystical Monkey King opened my eye … [Read more...]

23. Disunity in Christ: “A Prophetic Breath of Fresh Air” #CaPC25

All this week, the writers of Christ and Pop Culture unveil their 25 most loved things of  2013.  Previous #24: When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman #23: Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland It's not hard to develop a biblical argument for unity within Christian churches. We need only go to John 17 where Jesus prays that we all "be one" as he and the Father are one. In fact, there has been much written on the importance of unity for the Bo … [Read more...]

24. When We Were On Fire: “The Dismantling of Christian Cliches” #CaPC25

All this week, the writers of Christ and Pop Culture unveil their 25 most loved things of  2013.  Previous #25: From Up On Poppy Hill #24: When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman There’s a reason that Addie Zierman’s debut work was named by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the top 5 religion books of 2013. In lovely,well-paced prose that moves more like a novel than a memoir, Zierman ushers her readers into the heady evangelical youth culture of the nineties, complete with Jesus Freaks and True Love … [Read more...]