Billy Joel, George R. R. Martin, and Job

My sister thought we were a bunch of boring, goody-two-shoes and we needed to diversify our image. She was right. I didn’t drink or watch R-rated movies until I was in seminary. We were four siblings, all women, and our idea of “bad” was howling Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” as we disobeyed [Read More...]

Wide Awake

The iron has entered my hair. For a while I told people—too many people—that I was “embracing the gray,” but the mirror doesn’t display enough real silver to do that statement justice. Yet. “Personal tinsel?” suggested a friend over the holidays as she showed off her white stripes. Stripes are cool. But I haven’t got [Read More...]

Smile: It’s the New Mark of the Beast

“Don’t smile!” the DMV agent ordered my sister as she posed for her license photo. He pointed to a poster with four unacceptable facial expressions and one model countenance. “Why?” She tried to arrange her face properly. “It’s the TSA. Their facial recognition technology can’t read cheekbone structure if you smile.” She grinned her cheekiest [Read More...]

In the City and Under the Mercy

“God is Creator. All things are related,” read the African side of a Contrast in Worldviews chart in my orientation packet. “A set order in the universe, independent existence, a naturalistic view,” answered the Western side. “There is a spirit world,” insisted the African side. “Many factors in life cannot be known, controlled, or predicted.” [Read More...]

What’s Your Superpower? or Why Can’t You Bear It?

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? For clarity’s sake, let’s agree to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged definition: “power that is excessive, abnormal, or superior to existing power.” Batman’s superior gadgets don’t count. Given enough money and sufficient practicality, all such gadgets eventually become ubiquitous and thus no longer superior. For the sake [Read More...]

The Redemption of Thor

A few nights before Christmas, Daniel and I snuggled down to watch that holiday classic Thor: The God of Thunder. (I’d post a spoiler-alert at this juncture, but I don’t think your viewing experience will be devastated by the following plot-revelations.) Thor the Movie Odin, the Allfather god, expels his son Thor from Asgard for [Read More...]

War on Christmas Fantasies

No Stable, No Manger “I’m going to the flea market. I don’t want to hear this,” complained my aunt. My uncle, a minister, was retelling the Christmas narrative. He said his version was more accurate. She said he was ruining it. “You’re taking my story away!” My uncle was referencing Kenneth E. Bailey (1–37). Bailey [Read More...]

Jackson v. Tolkien v. Miéville

Who? Peter we know. And John Ronald Rueul we know. But who is Miéville? China Miéville is a fantasy author, who wrote a January 2002 article in Socialist Review called “Tolkien—Middle Earth Meets Middle England.” In it he argues that the Jackson movies vastly improve on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings story. Whereas the books [Read More...]

Dot Your (Dragon’s) Eyes

“Who’s the hero?” asks someone in my writers’ group. “There isn’t one,” I admit. “The father character is slightly less greedy than everyone else, so he’s the one that rescues his grandson from being eaten by the dragon.” We’re discussing my first-born story. I wrote it ten years ago. The words enchant. The plot, well, [Read More...]

Free Association Friday: Catching Fire

Still so stuffed with turkey that you can’t think straight? Standing in line to pay the Black Friday piper? Couldn’t absorb any of my typical gory or grandiose theology? Me neither. Let’s play free-association Friday. Catching Fire, the movie version of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games, book 2 released on November 22. Perhaps you’re tapping your foot [Read More...]