THE ESOTERIC ELVIS: Gary Tillery’s “The Seeker King”

I have always been an Elvis fan, initially because we shared the same birthday.   Over time, I came to truly love his classic songs, from the Sun Sessions in Memphis to his NBC Comeback Special in 1968.    When Elvis was encouraged to find something deep within his soul, the results were startling—a bolt of rock and roll lightning.   Yet, in between the early Elvis and the comeback Elvis were years of Hollywood Elvis, phoning it in for the movies.  What kept Elvis going amidst all the medioc … [Read more...]

Abundance and Open Source or Why I Wrote iGODS

 It probably started at the trendy Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.  Ten years ago, I sat across a movie producer who had invited me to lunch.  And yet, he spent the entire lunchtime sending and receiving text messages.  I didn’t understand how he could be so completely outside of his surroundings, lost in the electronic ether.   Clearly, I needed to catch up with this strange new out of body experience known as texting.  Four years ago, I was struck by my students’ inability to resi … [Read more...]


We don’t spend much time thinking about the nature of photography.   What is it we are trying to capture in a single frame?   How does the presence of the camera on our smart phones potentially undermine a beautiful moment?  I’ve often found myself so caught up in trying to document one of my children’s events (a school play, a music performance, a championship game) that I miss the experience itself.   How might we approach photography to enhance our sense of presence rather than as a barrier or … [Read more...]

Greatest Graduation Speech of our Era? DFW’s This is Water.

As a college professor, I have endured sooooo many graduation speeches.    It is a tough assignment, speaking to graduates who simply want to march across the stage.   The clock is ticking against graduation speakers before they even begin.   How to capture the attention of grads who veer between naivete and cynicism?   Steve Jobs delivered an inspiring salvo at Stanford. Speakers must resist the temptation to put forth empty platitudes.   The grads may respond to cynical humor that matches their … [Read more...]

Health for Hoarders (like me): Jeff Shinabarger’s More or Less

  My closet is loaded with clothes.   My garage is full of boxes.   Even my inbox is crammed with correspondence.   I am surrounded by so much stuff.    Jeff Shinabarger’s perceptive book, More or Less, was written for people like me.   We may call ourselves “collectors” or “enthusiasts” or simply someone who has stocked up on a few items in case a disaster strikes.    We may not want to hoard and store up, but the sheer volume of things we acquire over the years can threaten to overwhelm us.   … [Read more...]


Here it is--first glimpse of the cover (not finalized) for my next book.   What do you think?  Does it draw you in?  Intrigue you?  I definitely value your feedback and comments.Thanks to the book, I've fallen silent on this site recently.  It is tough to generate blog posts when you're already pouring so many words into a new project.    So I've taken the long view--investing in my upcoming book for Brazos Press rather than the shifts of Oscar season.I have been quite energized by the re … [Read more...]


It was tough to read James K. Wellman’s astute assessment of Rob Bell and a New American Christianity.   His research is thorough, rigorous and insightful.    The writing is smart and on point.   It offers a great window into Bell’s conservative upbringing and his first forays into punk rock.  It chronicles the remarkable rise of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.   I learned about the origins of Rob Bell’s Nooma videos.  But more importantly, I learned why the successful series ended so … [Read more...]

Blessed Are the Peacemakers–Amongst the Taliban

Veteran’s Day is an important time to pause, remember, and honor our fallen soldiers.   We are all the beneficiaries of their blood, shed on battlefields far and wide.   But what about those who fought for peace without the use of guns or ammo?   How do we honor fallen peacemakers?  Jonathan P. Larson celebrates the legacy of his lifelong friend, Dan Terry, in Making Friends Among the Taliban:  A Peacemaker’s Journey in Afghanistan and in the companion documentary, Weaving Life.  (Free copies of … [Read more...]


Anticipation is rising for the December 14th release of The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey.   Each installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy remains ensconced in the Top 25 films of all time on the Internet Movie Database.   When the Hobbit trailer runs in theaters, fans applaud at the first peek of Middle Earth. Audience interest in director Peter Jackson’s latest adaptation is so massive that J.R.R. Tolkien’s first book will be stretched into three feature films over the next two and a half … [Read more...]

Clay Morgan’s UNDEAD: A Bracing Wake Up Call

Why do zombies increasingly haunt our pop culture?   From surprise box office hits like 28 Days Later to the breakout cable television hit, The Walking Dead, zombies appear more prominent and problematic than ever.   In Undead:  Revived, Resurrected, Reborn, first-time author Clay Morgan connects our fascination with zombies to our most nagging spiritual questions.   We relate to the survivors navigating post-apocalyptic scenarios, dogged by shortages in supplies and human contact.   We sense tha … [Read more...]