Our Favorite Songs of 2013 (So Far), Part Two

“Get Lucky” by Daft Punk It's a catchy tune with "disco vibes" yet resurrects Daft Punk as a band. However, its true strength is its ability to present the human desire for a soul mate in a creative manner not done in today's market for singles. Chris Hutton*** “IV - The Drone of Earth” by Jay Tholen Jay Tholen’s new album is one of his darkest works, a fairy tale concept album about the loss of faith. It’s also one of his best, musically, as he moves beyond the chiptune sounds of his earl … [Read more...]

Independence Day Staple, the “1812 Overture” is a Story of God’s Sovereignty Over Human History

Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is a staple of Fourth of July celebrations around the United States, yet many of us might not be aware of the narrative that unfolds in the music. You might think that it recounts a pivotal battle between the United States and Great Britain during the War of 1812 but you would be wrong. You might be really intelligent and know that the piece is actually about Russia driving Napoleon out of Moscow in early fall of 1812, as heard with the competing musical quotations of … [Read more...]

On July 4th, Celebrate America, But Don’t Worship It

On July 4th, Americans will wave our flags proudly, belt out our national songs triumphantly, and consume our barbecue and lemonade a little too freely. Why? Because we live in America, the best nation this planet has had the privilege to host. I’m grateful to be an American, and I enjoy the many freedoms and benefits that come with my citizenship. Nonetheless, our nation’s history has a track record for taking patriotism beyond gratitude and into nationalist idolatry. Many Americans through the … [Read more...]

Why Does Science Fiction Invent So Many Foreign Gods?

The defining moment for my interest in science fiction came when I was in seventh grade and found a copy of David Pringle’s Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction on a bookshelf at a Mr. Paperback store near my grandparents’ home in Maine. I had already long loved the speculative genre, but Pringle’s book -- which gave capsule summary reviews of over 3,000 novels, collections, and anthologies -- proved an almost inexhaustible resource in my hunt for new titles to explore. I carried it with me to book … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Taking A Slower Family Path

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.Our parenting culture is fraught with anxiety about our children’s future prospects; we worry about technologies and jobs that have not yet been imagined, and we strive to prepare our children for success in spite of a thousand incompatible contingencies. Again and I again I hear about parents who spend most of their time as chauffeurs and who watch family time dw … [Read more...]

We’re Updating Our Comment Policy

A few weeks ago, we debuted our first ever comment policy. The gist of it was: don't be a jerk.Well, it turns out, that wasn't enough.As of today our new policy can be summed up as: "be charitable." Aside from having a more positive spin, it also allows us to more liberally rid discussions of comments that flirt with the line of jerkiness without ever crossing it. These kinds of comments are insidious because they follow the letter of the law but they ultimately make the community … [Read more...]

Our Favorite Songs of 2013 (So Far), Part One

“Dianne Young” by Vampire WeekendThe perfect summer song, “Dianne Young” (a purposeful homophone for "dyin' young") addresses the inherent recklessness of youth with equal parts coy sarcasm and ambivalent allowance ("If dyin' young won't change your mind, baby, right on time"). Vampire Weekend has crafted a realist anthem to a shortsighted approach to life, offering up a song that has the same qualities: undeniably fun, ultimately tragic, and essentially empty. Richard Clark … [Read more...]

Why Christians are Concerned About DOMA: Two Valid Reasons, Two Not-So-Much

 A great many Christians are dismayed with the recent SCOTUS decisions regarding gay marriage.  Their dismay is no surprise to anyone. What doesn't seem as clearly understood is exactly why. While same-sex marriage advocates might like to chalk it up to simple intolerance, and opponents, to a pure concern for moral righteousness, the situation seems a bit more complex.Scrolling through my Facebook feed,  Twitter threads, reading various pieces on the subject, and processing the r … [Read more...]

Yeezus People: How Kanye West is the Voice of the Millennial Generation

By Martyn JonesHere’s a confession: I love Kanye West. What began as a smirking fascination has grown into card-carrying fanboyishness, which I’ve sheepishly owned up to in the presence of more than a few Kanye-knockers—many of them other Christians.I’ve found that people generally fall into one of a few categories vis-a-vis Kanye. Apart from other fanboys, there are both the indignant and the emphatically indifferent. The indignant seem somehow capable of a sense of personal affront on b … [Read more...]

The Fish-Eat-Fish World of CBS’s “Under the Dome”

Third fisherman: Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.First fisherman: Why, as men do aland: the great ones eat up the little ones. William Shakespeare, Pericles 2.1.27-29When I'm teaching ancient literature, one of the most frequently repeated patterns I encounter is the love of law and civilization.  Whether it be in a mythical work like Gilgamesh, a legal text like the Law Code of Hammurabi, or a religious text like the Bible itself, one need not look far to find praise of … [Read more...]