This Halloween, Read a Scary Story and Embrace Inscrutability

In the Peanuts universe, Linus waits every year for The Great Pumpkin to appear on Halloween. When the avatar of Hallow's Eve fails to materialize, Linus cheerily embarks on another year of expectant waiting. The other characters think he is fanciful at best and a lunatic at worst. Perhaps only those of us who still have our blankies can understand Linus's peculiar faith, but is it possible that he is privy to some knowledge that every other Peanuts character lacks? Even if there is, … [Read more...]

Fear’s Great Revelation

Perhaps our deepest modern fear is the collapse of society, but if recent films and TV shows are any indication, it is also one of our most satisfying fantasies. Whether it's a zombie infestation, the biblical apocalypse, a terrorist attack, or even an economic crash which returns us to the gold standard, we are fascinated and horrified at the idea of the world we know ceasing to exist. Why is that?We fear and crave the end of civilization because it is through civilization that we come to … [Read more...]

Want to Love Your Neighbor? Read Fiction.

The following is an excerpt from an article featured in CaPCMag. This is just a taste of the great content you can get delivered to your iOS device biweekly by subscribing!I’ve argued for a while now that one of the most prominent powers of literature is its ability to promote empathy—and this without the reader ever noticing what’s going on. Among the greatest troubles when discussing faith and culture is that we all come from such different structures. I and you and everyone you know are … [Read more...]

The Problem with Social Media According to ‘Fahrenheit 451’

I’ve been a fan of the late Ray Bradbury ever since picking up The Martian Chronicles at the local children’s library sometime around 5th grade, and I've returned again and again to his short fiction. But somehow, I had managed until just recently to miss what is perhaps his signature novel, Fahrenheit 451, which will mark sixty years in print on October 19. I knew it by reputation only: it was that novel about authoritarian censorship, set in a future where a totalitarian government burns books … [Read more...]

Living the Epic Drama In Short Stories

Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature last week. She is the thirteenth woman and first Canadian to win the prize. Munro's award is also significant because she won it, not for a novel, but for being a "master of the contemporary short story." That's pretty cool.When asked why she writes short stories instead of novels, Munro told The Atlantic: So why do I like to write short stories? Well, I certainly didn't intend to. I was going to write a novel. And still! I still come up with … [Read more...]

Oprah Puts Rob Bell on Her Spiritual A-Team

Eckhart Tolle.Rhonda Byrne.Elizabeth Gilbert....Rob Bell?Yes, the moment has arrived. After encouraging us to learn from Tolle about 'The Power of Now', pushing us to unlock 'The Secret' with Byrne, and exhorting us to let Gilbert teach us to 'Eat, Pray, Love,' Oprah has added Rob Bell to her list of must-read spiritual gurus. This month the media mogul picked Bell's recent offering What We Talk About When We Talk About God as her 'Super Soulful Book of the M … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Parental Ambition and ‘The White Queen’

My current reading obsession is Philippa Gregory; I watched the first episode of the STARZ show The White Queen as a free online premiere, but since I don’t actually subscribe to the channel, I can’t keep current with the series. No matter. Until the show becomes available on DVD, I am content to plow through the entire Philippa Gregory corpus, beginning with the “Cousins’ War” quintet. Beginning with The White Queen, the series chronicles the lives of women navigating the ever-changing political … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: “Sin City,” 40 Years after Gram Parsons

In God and Country Music, Nick Rynerson examines the world of Americana, folk, alt-country, and popular country music.The world of Alternative Country has certain sacred anchors. These “anchors” are songs, people, and places that act as staples of identity for the fluid genre. Places like Bristol (the site of the famous 1927 Bristol Sessions) and Muscle Shoals, Alabama. People like Gram Parsons. And songs like "Sin City."Gram Parsons is particularly important to Alternative Country music. … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: C. S. Lewis’s Medieval Modern Imagination

Over at The Imaginative Conservative, Stratford Caldecott has a delightful, intelligent look at C. S. Lewis’s perspective on the cosmos and the distinctions between the medieval view and modern cosmologies. … [Read more...]

An Invitation to Dig: The Legacy of Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney, probably the most widely read and beloved poet of his time, died early Friday morning at a hospital in Dublin, at the age of 74. He had been going through a period of poor health, his family said. The outpouring of grief and loss at his passing bears witness to a legacy that cannot, as yet, be fully fathomed.Heaney’s poetry was deeply rooted in his Northern Ireland homeland: its farms and towns, its political strife, and its language and culture. He considered his own career as … [Read more...]