Looking Elsewhere: Trailering Malick; Burying “The Hobbit”; Christian Bale’s Bible Reading; and More!


This week, in my community of arts-and-faith explorers, conversations have been focused on the joy of Christmas carols, the mixed feelings over a new Terrence Malick trailer, the predictably disappointing conclusion to Peter Jackson's ruination of The Hobbit, some interesting conversations with the Exodus team, and the traditional year-end challenges of drafting various "Best of 2014" lists.I'm hard at work on my own lists of favorite films and albums from 2014. It's a particularly chal … [Read more...]

Poet Tania Runyan Presents a Christmas Playlist

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I got to know Tania Runyan at The Glen Workshop in Santa Fe. It was her sense of humor that got my attention first.Then, when she attended the film seminar that I taught there, I was delighted with her insights about the films that we watched, and how she saw right to the heart of one film in particular — Summer Hours — connected with her in a powerful way.Since then, though, I've become convinced that I should be the one signing up to attend her seminars. … [Read more...]

Andy Crouch, Executive Editor of Christianity Today, Presents a Christmas Playlist


When Gregory Wolfe introduced Andy Crouch, the keynote speaker at the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a few years ago, I was among many applauding with enthusiasm.Andy's book Culture Making — which won Christianity Today’s 2009 Book Award for Christianity and Culture, and was honored as one of the best books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly, Relevant, Outreach and Leadership — had made a strong impression on me. In it, he exhorted believers to reconsider their manner of cultural engagement … [Read more...]

Author Shannon Huffman Polson Presents a Christmas Playlist

Shannon Polson

One of the best things that happened to me and Anne last year: We joined a small writers group that has given us additional encouragement, inspiration, and companionship in our writing.It's a remarkable meeting of imaginations. In that group, we've had the privilege of meeting a published memoirist; an Army veteran who was the first woman to qualify as an Apache attack helicopter pilot at Fort Bragg; an native of Anchorage, Alaska, who loves adventures in the outdoors; an … [Read more...]

The Bruised Hearts Revue Presents a Christmas Playlist


One of the biggest musical surprises for me in 2014 was the discovery of a local Seattle band called The Bruised Hearts Revue.If you're a fan of Wilco, Over the Rhine, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, or Neko Case, you'll hear their influences here. I'd have a hard time picking a favorite cut from the album, but if you want to sample just one song, try the title cut of their debut record — "As Bright as It Burns" — here at Bandcamp, where you can also purchase the CD or download the whole thin … [Read more...]

Novelist A.S. Peterson Presents a Christmas Playlist

fiddlers gun

“Redcoats, pirates, orphans — and Fin Button, a passionate and savvy young woman who is a treasure all by herself. Here is high adventure that feels like truth."That's what novelist Jonathan Rogers said about The Fiddler's Gun. Then he added, "Three huzzahs for A.S. Peterson: The Fiddler’s Gun is an achievement.”And he's only scratching the surface of A. S. Peterson, who is much more than just an adventure novelist. … [Read more...]

Sarah Masen Presents a Christmas Playlist

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I began listening to this post's guest DJ late, and by a rather circuitous route. First, I discovered the writing of David Dark, whose books are among some of my favorite cultural commentaries. Then I began hearing about his immensely talented "better half": Sarah Dark.Or, as she is better known: Sarah Masen.The name Sarah Masen rang a bell, but I still, to this day, do not understand how I missed her idiosyncratic art-pop records. Her distinctively ethereal vocal style, her meditative … [Read more...]

Chris Willman Presents a Christmas Playlist

chris willman

I was already a fan of Chris Willman's work in the early '90s when he singled out U2's greatly misunderstood, hastily dismissed album Pop as the #1 record of that year. I was glad to find somebody who was listening closely enough to appreciate the complexity and stylistic audacity of the record. I already knew about his appreciation for Bruce Cockburn. Many years later, I'd have the privilege of meeting him during a press junket for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in L.A.So I wa … [Read more...]

The Fault in Our Stars (2014): First Impressions

fault in our stars

"It was unbearable. Every second worse than the last."For the record, I hate cancer, and I'm in awe of those who bear that burden through unimaginable challenges. What's more — I love a good love story.With that settled... wow, this movie has some disappointing "faults" such that I couldn't rate it with "stars" (plural). One... okay, one and a half, for Shailene Woodley (who is excellent), and I'll leave it at that.[Caution: Spoilers ahead.] … [Read more...]

Agents of Future Present a Christmas Playlist


Ready for another Christmas playlist? This one's full of surprises.So far, we've heard from Joe Henry, Ashley Cleveland, Sara Zarr, Alissa Wilkinson, and Over the Rhine.The Portland improvisational punk-rockers and worship-songleaders Agents of Future are hard to sum up. Their Bandcamp description describes them as... Jesus-loving, jalopy-gospel way-backers get 2gether & do cre8ive things: Shrieking, speaking, flailing, failing, storytelling, fear-quelling. In the process, songs &a … [Read more...]