Discovering the novel “The Hammer of God”

Tullian Tchividjian tells about discovering–along with some other evangelicals–the great Lutheran novel The Hammer of God. [Read more...]

Stay-at-Home entertainment vs. live theater

What with Netflix, on-demand TV, Hulu on the iPad, and videos on the smart phone, more and more people are staying at home for their entertainment, cocooning unto themselves.  Even going to the movies is too communal and too much trouble for a lot of us, who prefer to wait until we can watch a new film when it comes out on Netflix, rather than getting out of the house.  But this tendency is wreaking worse havoc on live theater.

Thanks to Bruce Gee for putting me onto this column from Terry Teachout, drama critic at the Wall Street Journal. [Read more...]

Reading a novel is good for your brain

The kind of research that we literature professors appreciate:

Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said. [Read more...]

The best books of 2013?

What were the best books of 2013?  Or, to propose a second category, what were the best books you read during the last year (whether or not they were published in 2013)?  These can be in any genre or field.

“God was man in Palestine. . .”

I didn’t even realize that the late John Betjeman, England’s long-time poet laureate, was a Christian, but he was, as I’m learning.  His poem “Christmas” is stunning, a warm survey of all of the decoration and shopping and nostalgia surrounding the season, building up to this:

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Read the whole poem and listen to it in a recording after the jump. [Read more...]

My take on “The Hobbit” 2

We’re on the road, and Friday we were caught in the ice storm in Oklahoma City, taking shelter in a hotel in Bricktown, OKC’s very cool entertainment district.  It was 9:30 p.m. and I was just settling down for a long winter’s nap, when my wife said, “Let’s go see the Hobbit!”  Showing that we nearly-senior citizens can be just as impulsive, reckless, and irresponsible as the callow young, we walked four blocks through the freezing rain, slip sliding away to the nearly-empty multiplex where we were just in time for the 9:45 p. m. showing.  (It was nearly 1:00 a.m. when we made our way back, way, way past our accustomed bed times.)

As my wife commented, most critics have been saying that the first installment of the Hobbit was kind of slow, with all that atmosphere and exposition, and that the second installment, The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug is much better, with non-stop action from the very beginning.  As often happens, the critics describe something true, but fail in their interpretation and in their assessment.   There is way too much action in this second movie, which is not nearly as good as the first one. [Read more...]


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