To the Marketing Director: These Are Not the Droids You’re Looking For

In my house, we make a practice of laughing at commercials. We mock them to remind ourselves that they’re selling something, that they’re probably lying (with the help of photo editing and airbrushing), and that the products we buy don’t define us.But recent Droid commercials are so disturbing that I can barely stand to watch them, much less laugh at them. In this spot (currently airing on Hulu), a man is strapped into a chair in a dark laboratory, with the Droid phone attached just over his … [Read more...]

30 Rock Finale and the Lesson of Ecclesiastes

 Last week, the television show 30 Rock aired its series finale, and under the surface the episode was a surprisingly philosophical treatment of the question, “How can I find fulfillment in life?”When the show began seven years ago, I—like most white, well-educated, professional women in their twenties—loved Tina Fey’s character, Liz Lemon. She was like us. Her boss Jack Donaghy neatly identified her in the very first episode: “a New York third-wave feminist, college-educated, single … [Read more...]

Giddy over Gaiman’s Chu’s Day

It arrived in the mail yesterday, the plain brown cardboard disguising the school-bus-yellow book jacket underneath. On the cover, an adorably goofy panda with aviator goggles and, emblazoned in bold text, the names of two of my favorite authors: Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex. A preschooler's book written by Gaiman (whose entire corpus I love) and illustrated by Rex (whose talents are best displayed in the charmingly silly and unexpectedly profound The True Meaning of Smekday). This is gonna be good, … [Read more...]

Do Moms Do Better without Dad?

In today's edition of Slate, Pamela Gwyn Kripke writes a controversial parenting piece entitled "It’s Better To Be Raised by a Single Mom." The piece is subtitled "The kids get that magical quality; grit."  Her position is in response to previous Slate posts (and lots of research) that cite numerous disadvantages for children raised in single-mother households. Her position also uses anecdotal and personal evidence in response to studies and statistics based on significantly larger population gr … [Read more...]

Kirkus’ Best Books of 2012

The editors at Kirkus Reviews have created lists in multiple categories--children's, adult fiction, adult nonfiction, teen, and indie--for the best books of 2012. I am particularly drawn to the list of 100 children's books, and I've already requested several titles from our local library. As children's editor and list-maker Vicky Smith notes, "But at the end of it all, having whittled the year’s output down, I am struck again at the astonishing talent and dedication of the creators and p … [Read more...]

Do We Really Need Christian Video Games?

I just read a lovely piece that I thought I would share my thoughts on about Christians making video games. Our own Richard Clark and Drew Dixon got interviewed for that article, and I think they made some salient observations. Indeed, I enjoyed the entire thing. I hope you'll take a moment to read it.I'm going to start this by being a little bit pedantic. Technically, we cannot have a Christian video game because video games cannot be Christians. It's kind of a "I'm joking but I'm kind of … [Read more...]

Dorian Gray on Drugs

Bryan Saunders has 8,700 self-portraits to his credit, but it’s the 50 currently on display in Paris’ Maison Rouge that have made him famous. Saunders lives in poverty and relative obscurity (largely, it seems, by choice) in conditions that eschew societal expectations about ambition, health, and normalcy. His art, too, challenges those categories, in particular the 50 self-portraits, each one created while under the influence of a different drug. Saunders never pays for the drugs, instead get … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: Digital Natives

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.The November edition of Wired features the Muppets Bunsen and Beaker (always a good start), but what piqued my interest was a one-page article tucked into the middle of the magazine. “Why Johnny Can’t Search,” by Clive Thompson, plays with the decades-old questions about why kids can’t do things that seem really basic to their education (Johnny can’t read or count, eith … [Read more...]

What Memes Mean: Haunted Houses and Christian Self-Awareness

Each Wednesday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.This viral photo-roll has been making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter the past few weeks. It makes for a fitting mid-October post. The staff at Nightmares Fear Factory—a "haunted house" in Niagara Falls, Canada—set up a digital camera at a particular point in their labyrinth of seasonal fear, hoping to capture people at their most startled. The resul … [Read more...]

Making Sense of “Culture Making”, Part 3: In The Beginning

In the first section of Culture Making, Andy Crouch took a fairly high-level view of "culture" and discussed such topics as defining culture, evaluating cultural goods, methods for bringing about and measuring the value and longevity of cultural change, and even a brief summary of the American church's engagement with the prevailing culture. As we enter the book's second section, and specifically, its sixth chapter, Crouch shifts from this high-level view to one that is very particular and … [Read more...]