The Mystery Continues


A few weeks ago, I praised the first installment of Jeff Vandermeer's The Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long for the second book, Authority, which is equally haunting and confusing and every bit as brilliant. … [Read more...]



Most dystopian novels explain what went wrong right away and settle into a narrative of life in the aftermath. Jeff VanderMeer refuses to share this information in his novel, Annihilation, the first of his Southern Reach Triology. The next two will be published in May (Authority) and September (Acceptance). With Annihilation, VanderMeer creates one of the more haunting stories I've read in quite some time. … [Read more...]

From a Freebie to a (Potential) Blockbuster


The only thing more unbelievable (read: awesome!) than the plot of Andy Weir's novel, The Martian, is the story behind it's success. Weir initially gave the book away for free on his website, until friends and fans encouraged him to make it available in the Kindle bookstore. He uploaded it and charged 99 cents, the cheapest possible. In three months, it sold 35,000 copies in three months and rose to the top of Amazon's sci-fi best-seller list. A publisher purchased the rights, and shortly … [Read more...]

Mediating Faith: A Review


Few writers have made me think in new ways about the technological, hyper-connected world in which we live like Clint Schnekloth in his new book Mediating Faith: Faith Formation in a Trans-media Era. … [Read more...]

Making (Religious) Meaning out of (Pop) Music


Few scholars of religion and popular culture are as thorough in their articulation of both methodology and findings (and limitations of said findings) as Clive Marsh and Vaughn S. Roberts are in their book, Personal Jesus: How Popular Music Shapes Our Souls. It's a challenging read, but indispensable for music lovers and those who engage religion, the arts, and pop culture. … [Read more...]

A Beautiful Mystery

Eleanor Catton with Man Booker prize

Every now and then, when I finish watching a movie, I ask myself, "What the hell just happened here?" Usually it involves some crazy Asian shock film or a whacky indie film. Rarely do I feel this way when I finish a novel. Given the slower pace of re-reading, I can delve into the world more deeply and return to passages that I may have simply glossed over. But this is exactly what happened with Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, a puzzling narrative beautifully written. … [Read more...]

Death at the Movies: A Review


Few film and religion books are as intriguingly interreligious as Lyn and Tom Davis Genelli's Death at the Movies: Hollywood's Guide to the Hereafter. The authors look at a relatively unexplored genre, film blanc, from Christian, Buddhist, mystical perspectives and arrive at prophetic and inspirational insights into our fears of and suppressed obsessions with death, the afterlife, and what happens in between. … [Read more...]

Finding Grace in the Loud Places


I'm slowly gearing up for my first extended writing foray into non-film subject matter with a book on the prophetic implications of the work of singer/songwriter Todd Snider. I've got a stack of music and theology/religion books to get through. The first (and shortest) is Don H. Compier's Listening to Popular Music, part of Fortress Press' Compass Series, a Christian exploration of daily living. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking (or daring) here, but Compier does lay a strong … [Read more...]