Confessions of a Christian Film Critic

I'm a Christian and a film critic, so I found myself nodding along the whole way through Ann Hornaday's "Confessions of a Christian Film Critic" over at the Washington Post: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” It may come as something of a surprise for Washington Post readers to learn that these are the words I silently invoke every time I sit down to write. It would surely shock the gentleman who … [Read More...]

Contemplating the Passion

Over at The High Calling, Gordon Atkinson provides some help for those who are looking for aid in contemplating the passion of Christ: If you have been a Christian for many years and are familiar with the story, you are at a great disadvantage. Try to forget that you already know every detail of what you are hearing. Let yourself become a child again. Grownups might fully understand and explain the meaning of this story, but you don’t have to. Your goal is only to hear the story. You are … [Read More...]

A Seersucker Manifesto

Seersucker: the fabric of summer (and summer is coming!). The Curator recently republished a tongue-in-cheek reflection on seersucker and irony and a few other things: More than anything, to wear seersucker well you have to believe in it — own it 100%. No hesitation; no waffling; no backpedaling. If you walk into an H&M, see a seersucker jacket and think, I’m gonna buy that; it looks cool, then you are in for a world of regret. Fashion is a lot like cuisine. You can rain salt onto a … [Read More...]

What Do You Think About an e-Passover?

I read a fascinating piece in the New York Times this morning: A Question for Seder: What Role for Screens? by Jennifer Medina. This raises all sorts of questions about the use of technology in the exercise of faith. Here's the set up: For many Jewish families, this Passover night will indeed be different from all others. As they gather around the dinner table on Monday for the Seder, some families will forgo passing around wine-stained copies of the Haggadah, the book used to guide the … [Read More...]

A Week of Holy

For Western Christians (even those from not-very-liturgical traditions), this week is Holy Week, in which we remember the days that led up to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Over at The High Calling, they ran a series of posts on observing Holy Week. Laura Boggess reflects on at "a week of holy": A week of little deaths, that’s what Holy Week is for us, and I think I understand why the Orthodox Church calls the season of Lent the Bright Sadness.Celebration and mourning take turns to … [Read More...]

Walking: America’s Favorite Spectator Sport

In odd Friday news - did you know that a popular competitive sport in the 1870s and 80s was . . . walking? NPR has more: "In the decades after the Civil War there was mass urbanization in the United States [with] millions of people moving into the cities," Algeo tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "And there wasn't much for them to do in their free time, so pedestrianism — competitive walking matches — filled a void for people. It became quite popular quite quickly." Huge crowds packed indoor … [Read More...]

Reflecting on Passion – Posthumously

In the New York Times last weekend, Nicholas Kristof - looking ahead to graduation season - wrote about a book written by Mary Keegan, an emerging writer who died tragically two years ago that prods the reader to think about their life direction: Keegan recalled being paid $100 to attend a recruiting session at Yale by a hedge fund: “I got this uneasy feeling that the man in the beautiful suit was going to take my Hopes and Dreams back to some lab to figure out the best way to crush … [Read More...]

Moving Beyond Mediocrity: It’s Hard Work!

I've reflected a bit lately on how we often assume that if something is difficult, we're doing it wrong and need to change course. While that's true for some things, of course, we sometimes forget that many things are difficult because they're worth doing - work, projects, relationships. Over at The High Calling, Charity Singleton Craig reminds us of this fact when we're moving beyond mediocrity: Recently, though, I decided to make a change. It’s a small thing, really, but being thoughtful … [Read More...]

A Doubter in the Holy Land

In The New York Times, the writer and literary critic Maud Newton - who was raised in a fervently religious household and now describes her own religious views as "uncertain" - writes about visiting the Holy Land: When I was young, my mother had a feverish conversion and started a church in our living room. I’d always been a tiny bit anxious that I might one day follow suit, hear the calling myself, start roaming the streets, preaching salvation. A committed but fearful agnostic, I’d never … [Read More...]

A Seamless Calling

Over at the InterVarsity website "The Well," my Christianity Today colleague Katelyn Beaty wrote a lovely profile of Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, of Liberty University, and her "seamless vocation": Now, I’m getting to see Karen — who is spending this break finishing a biography of social reformer and abolitionist Hannah More — in her daily rhythms. And during writing breaks and walks to the barn and evening conversations, I’m starting to see the threads that tie Karen’s life into a … [Read More...]

A Thread Called Grace

My friend Jon Merritt is a brave, wise writer, and everyone should read the excerpt from his new book that appears in April's Christianity Today : I can't tell you how many times something like this occurred. I remember those three vividly, and when I let my mind wander, I can still see the events in my mind like I'm watching an old 8mm film. I guess it doesn't matter how many times it happened, only that it did. And it singed a part of my soul in a way I can't explain. Now it only hurts when … [Read More...]

Lenten Reflections on the Apostle’s Creed

Every week in church, we recite the Apostle's Creed. I didn't grow up doing this, so it took me a while to memorize it, and I find it to be very meaningful every week. So I found this meditation especially meaningful, in which the author thinks through each phrase of the creed. If you're not familiar with it, it may imbue the creed with meaning; if you're too familiar, it may help you see it anew: I believe Not I know. Not I think. Not I feel. Not I understand. But I believe. When I am in … [Read More...]

Creativity and Minecraft

Here's an interesting piece: the case for creating --- and video games: Things progressed. Servers popped up where players could work together in a world. Some players replicated real-world buildings and spaces. Conferences were held. People started to wonder about applications outside of video games: education? design? urban planning? Mojang, the maker of Minecraft, is now in partnership with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the UN agency promoting sustainable … [Read More...]

A Year of Grieving Dangerously

Over at Christianity Today, an absolutely compelling interview with Kay Warren (Rick Warren's wife) about their year of "grieving dangerously" after their son Matthew's tragic suicide last year: I said at Matthew's memorial service, "We're devastated, but not destroyed." I don't know that you ever stop being devastated by catastrophic loss. In the last year-and-a-half of his life, we lived right on the edge every day. I would talk about it with close friends and say, "It's like sitting on the … [Read More...]

The First Baseball

I spent a couple hours this weekend first compiling and then keeping an eye on my fantasy baseball draft. I'm in a league with six of my colleagues and seven of our students. It's the first year I've played, but I grew up watching the Red Sox (my Dad was born and raised in south Boston) and loving the sport, and I'm already anticipating getting into the groove, thinking about the sport every day once again. So I thought this video about and reflection on the first baseball over at The High … [Read More...]

Sports for the Glory of God

March Madness is upon us, and with it, all things basketball are important once again. The High Calling has this interview about "sports for the glory of God" with Pastor Stephen Chen, who serves as a pastor to, among others, NBA star Jeremy Lin: Intelligent, high achieving people can be good because they want to do a lot for the Lord, and yet it’s a danger because of the tendency to say, “If we have the programs right or sing the right songs, and the music and lighting are right, and the … [Read More...]