Pop Culture 180, Part 1: Giving up Halo for E.M. Forster

This is the first post of the Pop Culture 180 experiment, in which I will give up video games and replace them with reading for more than one week. For more information, read this introduction post.My renewed relationship with video games has been a fairly recent one. It began at the same time my relationship with books broke down. I guess you could call video games a rebound relationship.I have always had an appreciation for books. I grew up reading them, and have a few novels of which I am … [Read more...]

Our Holy Grail: An Honest Depiction of Christianity in Pop Culture

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Guest Writer, Seth T. Hahne. Besides commenting incessantly here, he also occasionally blogs at Nowheresville, USA.Common wisdom says it is rare to find realistic depictions of Christianity from non-Christian sources. Still moreso from artifacts of pop culture. When a creator like Kevin Huizenga is discovered, an author who crafts a story that portrays conservative Christian characters both realistically and empathetically, his work will almost certainly … [Read more...]

Not That Kind of Girl: Rejecting the Evangelical Narrative, But for What?

Readers, please raise your (virtual) hand if you have ever heard 1 Peter 3:15 (the one about being prepared to give a defense for the hope that is in you) used to justify why you need to have a “testimony” or pat story about your conversion, ready to be shared at the drop of a hat. Though I believe that both apologetics and personal storytelling are necessary to Christian faith, I also get frustrated with the assumption that your faith-story is supposed to be always the same, no matter to whom or … [Read more...]

Podcast #55 – Part 1: Top 5, Top 5 and Top 5!

This Week: In an effort to celebrate an arbirtary hallmark, we figured we'd countdown our top 5 bunches of things, an idea that ended up taking a REALLY LONG TIME and requiring two parts - the first of which is something like 50 minutes - to do so. In this part you can look forward to hearing our top 5 Movies we Watch Over and Over Again, English Novels, and Movie Moments. Good times. Also, stay tuned to the end for our first ever blooper segment. (I keep my promises, Ben)Every week, Richard … [Read more...]

'The Year of Living Biblically': What Does True Biblical Literalism Look Like?

A friend recently loaned me A. J. Jacobs’s 2007 book The Year of Living Biblically, a humorous memoir about the author’s year of trying to follow biblical mandates literally. In tone and subject matter, the book bears a lot of similarity to Daniel Radosh’s Rapture Ready!, which I read last summer: each is authored by a secular Jew fascinated by, though also skeptical about, religious culture in America, and each author ends up finding much to admire, as well as mock. The key difference is that, w … [Read more...]

Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted Biography

Shockingly, in Brad Gooch’s new Flannery O’Connor biography, the phrase “Christ-haunted South” doesn’t even make a single appearance. In retrospect, I think this may be to Gooch’s credit, and here’s why: the field of publishing about Flannery O’Connor has been so dominated by devout Catholics and evangelical Protestants that readers who share neither persuasion have become frustrated with the religious emphasis in O’Connor scholarship. (It was eye-opening to me when a grad school professor expres … [Read more...]

Summer Reading: Memory and Ethical Complexity in Tigana

The first book I took on for my summer reading project was Tigana, by Guy Gavrial Kay; and it was a doozy.  Weighing in at 688 pages, it immediately violated two key rules of summer reading- its chapters were long and its pace was slow.The book is set in a fantasy world that has some geographic and technological similarities to Renaissance Italy, but the similarities end there.  The plot follows a group of people whose country was destroyed 15 years before.  In fact, not only was the country de … [Read more...]

Going Beyond New Releases: Appreciating Culture as Tradition, Part 2

If you haven't already, read part 1 here.Aside from consumer culture, society's increasing dependence on and trust in technology has contributed to the belief that what is newer is always better and more worth our time. Technology has always had an affect on how works are made and what gets made, but the rapid changes in technology that we have seen in the last 30 or so years have had a more dramatic effect and have given rise to the belief that cultural artifacts can become obsolete, just … [Read more...]

Beyond New Releases: Appreciating Culture as Tradition, Part 1

A few years ago, when I taught Freshman Composition at a community college, I went searching for information online about WWI. My students were reading The Great Gatsby and I felt that they would benefit from understanding the horrors of trench warfare as part of the context of the novel. The first result that Google gave me when I searched for "WWI" was a spelling correction: "Did you mean 'WWII'"?I thought it a striking sign of our culture's knowledge about World War One that when I went to … [Read more...]

The CaPC Summer of Pop-Culture-Type Reading!

Woo!  Movies, video games, music!  It's a pop culture extravaganza!  Summer is here!Um, no thanks.The fact is, I'm not a wildly excitable person.  In fact, I'm downright grumpy about buying into cultural events.  So, perhaps not surprisingly, it falls to me to examine the somewhat unusual concept of, "summer reading."This immediately presents a problem, because our interaction with books is far different from movies.  A book lasts longer, rarely gets as much initial fanfare, and does not re … [Read more...]