The Wordy Shipmates and American Exceptionalism

One thing to be said for Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates is that she makes her agenda clear from the very first sentence: “The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief. And by dangerous I don’t mean thought-provoking. I mean: might get people killed.” If you object to the automatic association of religious belief with fanaticism, intolerance, and violence, then Vowell’s book might not be the one for you. Also, if you object to sweeping statements directly connecting John Winthrop’s s … [Read more...]

CaPC Recommends: 4 for the Weekend

4 For the Weekend is a new feature which we hope will be mutually beneficial to both Christ and Pop Culture and its' readers. We hope to help you by recommending a selection of books, movies, games, etc. that we in particular love or appreciate. You can help us by clicking through the provided links and ordering the products, resulting in our getting a commission for whatever you buy. If you want to buy anything else from Amazon, please use our search box in the lower right portion of our … [Read more...]

Podcast #38: Ben and Rich Look Forward, Part 3 (Games/Books/Music)

Click here to listen!This Week: After Rich starts off with a delicious gummy worm and most of Ben's cream soda, Ben kicks off a discussion about the games, books and music that CaPC is looking forward to in 2009. Plus, the Top 5 is Back with our Top 5 Things that Lived Up To the Hype!Every week, Richard Clark and Ben Bartlett sit back and discuss the posts of the previous week on Christ and Pop Culture, acknowledge and respond to the big issues in popular culture, and give a sneak peak at … [Read more...]

Heroes of the Valley Takes on Christianity Without the Magic

So often, Christians target children’s fantasy literature for portraying the supernatural—especially if there are characters who happen to be witches, wizards, or sorcerers. Jonathan Stroud has written books that undoubtedly would have called forth ire from this group, had another, more famous boy wizard not provided a distraction at about the same time: Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy features magicians who summon creatures that they call “demons” (though the creatures call themselves djinni)*. Yet … [Read more...]

Octavian Nothing: Novel for the Nation

As a professor of American literature, I teach my students about the dual strains of America: optimism in the native goodness of the individual, and a pessimism stemming from the realization of the human heart’s great capacity for evil. Jefferson and Adams. Emerson and Hawthorne. Yet I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a single book that embodies American optimism and pessimism quite as powerfully as a 2006 novel marketed for teens: M. T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traito … [Read more...]

Looking Forward: Books and Music in 2009

Many Christians remain on the defensive in response to the culture around them, pointing out dangers and condemning anything that makes us uncomfortable. We find warning and condemnation to be a valid position, but not a valid default position. In order to demonstrate an alternative, we thought we’d demonstrate what it’s like to give popular culture the benefit of the doubt.All this week, the writers at Christ and Pop Culture will be playing the role of evangelist for some of the things we’re mos … [Read more...]

What was Actually So Great About 2008

In January, I wrote about the culture events I most looked forward to in 2008. Some events turned out to be better than I expected, others much, much worse, and still others never even happened. Now that 2008 is coming to a close, I thought it would be a good time to look at my predictions and see which cultural events actually had an impact this year. TV My prediction: Star Wars the Clone WarsThe last film I saw in theaters this summer was perhaps the worst movie I have even seen (and, Lord … [Read more...]

Podcast #34: Rich and Ben "Put a Ring On It"

Click here to listen!This week: Rich and Ben discuss an unlikely, but surprisingly imperative subject: Beyonce. Listen to hear why you should even care. Also, "Brighten the Corner Where You Are," Facebook, and death on Black Friday. Special Bonus: Ben answers for his anti-Christmas sentiments in this week's listener feedback segment.Posts Discussed in this episode:“Brighten the Corner Where You Are”–and Beware the Devil-Possum!RetroPost: Your Life in 12 Words or LessA Blackened Frida … [Read more...]

"Brighten the Corner Where You Are"–and Beware the Devil-Possum!

When a colleague recently loaned me a book, telling me it was about a high school teacher in hot water over teaching evolution, I wasn’t too excited. Wasn’t one Inherit the Wind enough? However, once I started reading, I discovered that Fred Chappell’s 1989 novel Brighten the Corner Where You Are has none of the pompous bluster of Inherit the Wind; it’s not a chest-thumping ode to “truth” and “scientific objectivity.” In fact, rather than dwelling on whether Darwin was right or wrong, the novel i … [Read more...]

Podcast #30: Rich and Ben "Bond"

Click here to listen!Every week, Richard Clark and Ben Bartlett sit back and discuss the posts of the previous week on Christ and Pop Culture, acknowledge and respond to the big issues in popular culture, and give a sneak peak at the week ahead.This week: The new Bond movie, The Secret Life of Bees Bible Study, losing an election, and Heroes.We love feedback! If you’d like to respond you can comment on the website, send an email to, or go to our contact page. W … [Read more...]