The Kiddy Pool: Reading Matters

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.My husband and I, both college English teachers with humanities PhDs, prayed for a child who would love books. We tried to come up with few expectations for our child’s preferences, but, honestly, in our household, a child who doesn’t like to read would seem a little strange. And at least the first time around, we’re lucky: This kid adores stories, nonfiction too, but … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "Paradise Lost"

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some more high-brow culture we should be consuming.High-Culture Vegetable of the Week: John Milton’s Paradise LostActual Vegetable Equivalent: The best garden salad you’ve ever tasted…served in a bowl the size of the universeNutritional Value: an anti-oxidant that will either answer your questions about God’s ways toward men or so overwhelm you that you drop the questions and simply proceed on faith that God k … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Knuffle Bunny Free, A Review

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.I fell in love with Trixie at “Aggle flaggle klabble!” The lovable little girl from the Knuffle Bunny series embodies all the things that children’s writer Mo Willems does best: intimate, expressive, poignant characterization. Set against the photographed backgrounds, the simple elegance of Willems’ drawings amplifies real, raw emotions.In the first book, Knuffle Bunn … [Read more...]

The Magician King: Enduring the Loss of Eden

Back in 2009, when I reviewed Lev Grossman’s novel The Magicians for Christ and Pop Culture, I called it “one of the most painful books I have ever read.” So, naturally, I bought a copy of the sequel, The Magician King, as soon as it was released last month. The Magician King is certainly emotionally draining, though in a different way from its predecessor. Gone are most of the Harry Potter parallels of the first book, but The Magician King continues Grossman’s loving-yet-cynical engagement with … [Read more...]

'Divergent': Derivative Dystopia?

A good friend—who also happens to be a good writer—recently asked me to read the first chapter of the young adult fantasy novel she’s currently working on. In the opening scene, a boy gives a loaf of bread to a poor, hungry girl he finds behind his parents’ restaurant. Now, keep in mind that my friend hasn’t read The Hunger Games; those who have, however, will instantly recall the scene in which Peeta, the son of the town baker, gives a loaf of bread to starving Katniss behind his parents’ bakery … [Read more...]

'Go the **** to Sleep' and the Backlash against 'Perfect' Parenting

Some evenings, I regret ever inventing “The Moon Song.” These are the nights that I tiptoe down the stairs, contemplating my dinner and a peaceful evening, only to hear the breathless and punctuated cry of my almost-two-year-old daughter: “MOMMY! SING! MOON! SONG!” My little girl can go from zero to hysterical in a flash, and few things set her off like bedtime, because she knows her mommy and daddy are having fun (i.e., slumping on the couch in utter exhaustion) without her. So, while I can inte … [Read more...]

The Vampire Defanged: An Interview with Susannah Clements

Carissa Smith recently conducted an email interview with Susannah Clements (Associate Professor of English, Regent University), author of The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero (Brazos Press, which kindly sent us a review copy). The book traces the vampire's evolution in pop culture, from its Christian roots in Bram Stoker's Dracula, through its postmodern iteration in Buffy, and finally to the sparkly undead of Twilight. Carissa: What, beyond the … [Read more...]

Tina Fey's Comical Humility

Brushing your teeth is optional when you go to bed at 3 a.m. Now, any other normal day of the week you should brush your teeth. But when you come rolling in at 3 a.m. you have approximately five seconds to decide if you have the energy to stand in front of the sink before your body makes that decision for you. So, needless to say, several nights ago when this happened to me I did not brush my teeth. I was way too exhausted, oddly enough, however, I was also way too enthralled in Tina Fey’s b … [Read more...]

…by the Bell, Chapter 3: Rob Bell's Hell

Read part 1 – Preliminary Discussion. Read part 2 – Chapter 1 & Introduction. Read part 3 - Chapter 2Christ and Pop Culture writer, Ben Bartlett and guest-writer, Kiel Hauck, two friends who spend their Friday nights playing video and board games in between heated theological, social, and political discussions, come together to hammer out their thoughts about a book that seems to have most other evangelicals shutting down lines of communication, intentionally or not.Each week, they’ll re … [Read more...]

The Not So Radical Book: A Review of David Platt's Radical

David Platt, pastor of Church at Brook Hills in Alabama, may be quiet, unassuming, and modest, but his book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream is anything but. The book is a barrage of challenges and hard-nosed critique of the church. Of course, there are a million books like that, a new critique of the church seems to come out every month. There is something that makes Platt’s book different, however. His critique is not merely presented in terms of cultural context, but it … [Read more...]