Unfiltered isn’t the Same as Authentic

Given my love of the anti-entropic call to arms of Diane Duane's So You Want to be a Wizard, I guess I'm an easy mark for John Gardner's description of good art in On Moral Fiction: But trivial art has no meaning or value except in the shadow of more serious art, the kind of art that beats back the monsters and, if you will, makes the world safe for triviality. That art which tends toward destruction, the art of nihilists, cynics, and merdistes, is not properly art at all. Art is essentially s … [Read more...]

Books on deck for me in 2016

According to my Goodreads account, I read 260 books this past year (that comprised a total of 81.203 pages).  And sixteen of those were books I specifically set out to read in last year's Books on Deck post.Overall, I think it worked out great to make a list of books I meant to get around to, even if I missed six of the ones I put on my list.  It helped give some urgency to the books I kept meaning to read, in general, but never picking up -- I finally had a reason to let them (sometimes) pre … [Read more...]

Lewis, Chesterton, and Card on Our Tolerance for Mystery

I had the pleasure of speaking at Doxacon (a scifi/fantasy convention for theology nerds) in November, and the audio of my talk ("Chesterton, Lewis, and Card on Worldbuilding and Our Tolerance of Mystery") is now available for streaming!  Here's the prècis: When a reader picks up a fantasy or science fiction novel, he or she trusts the author to reveal enough of the new world and its laws to be able to follow the stakes of the plot, but not so much as to wind up closer to a DnD rulebook rather t … [Read more...]

My Favorite Books of 2015

I've put together a list of my favorite books I read for the first time this year (here's last year's list).  I've shared five of my favorites as part of First Things's favorite books of the year, and I've got the remaining seven favorites listed in chronological order of my reading below.(And, of course, as you guys think about gifts for family and friends, I'd be remiss not to ask you to consider getting someone my book, Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers Even I Can Offer, if you r … [Read more...]

The Beguine Model for the Benedict Option

 After reading Laura Swan's The Wisdom of the Beguines, I'm tempted to tell Rod Dreher that the best name for Christians trying to find ways to live in community, inspired by monasteries but outside them, is probably the Beguine Option, not the Benedict Option.It's hard to do too much better than this as a model for finding ways to live your faith with others, in cities, towns, or wherever you happen to find yourself: While some lived with their parents, many beguines used their … [Read more...]

Eve Tushnet’s Great New Novel On Forgiveness And Addiction

Eve Tushnet, the author of Gay and Catholic, just released her second book!  Amends is a novel about addiction and forgiveness (and how both aren't things you can finish dealing with).  I just finished it myself, and I can't wait to be back in D.C. to convene my friends to talk about it (and read aloud some to the passages that were particularly profound and/or hilarious).  Here's how I reviewed it on Amazon: Eve's first novel is excellent. I read it for the first time on a plane and was sorely … [Read more...]

Seeing the World Through Tammet’s Joy

Sometimes, when I have a book out from the library, I wind up buying it, and Daniel Tammet's Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Learning, Love, and Math is one that I ordered before I had finished reading it.  Tammet is on the autism spectrum, and his book's title pays homage to Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures, and its spirit is very Math Curse.Tammet has mathematical synesthesia, and there's a fun part in his autobiography Born on a Blue Day (which I got out from the library but felt less u … [Read more...]