May 16, 2024

The Academy of Country Music Awards show last night on Amazon was a pageant of contemporary stars, new music, aged icons, pop stars, football players, and classic Country. (FYI Prime was not required to watch the show live last night, but it might be now?) In my description of what was obviously an eclectic mix, don’t hear that this was a show dedicated to the pop-driven components of contemporary Country music that you might be used to if you listen... Read more

May 10, 2024

Just what is the mission of the church? This is at the same time a simple and complex question that Christians have been debating for two millennia–with an especially intense period of discussion taking place in the 19th Century American Presbyterian world. In this debate, with theologian Charles Hodge at its center, even the idea that the church’s mission is spiritual was an object of contention. Alan Strange’s new book Empowered Witness; Politics, Culture, and the Mission of the Church is a... Read more

May 3, 2024

It’s always interesting to go back to books you read in the past and judge whether or not they’re any good–which of course is really judging whether past you had good taste relative to present you. In high school, I pulled the book The Sword of Winter by Marta Randall off my grandparents’ bookshelf and read it through. I remember enjoying it quite a bit, but not enough to send me on a deep dive into the fantasy genre (though enough... Read more

April 26, 2024

In what probably won’t (but easily could) be a series on how Science Fiction so often accurately predicts the future, a previous post noted that Sci-Fi anticipated our current conversations about gender and sex. This review is about a book that anticipated modern discussions about language. I realize that most of these discussions were taking place among academics and largely involved conversations about postmodernism vs classical ideas, and mostly passed by the man on the street (and good riddance, for... Read more

April 19, 2024

Samuel James isn’t offering anything new (the best books don’t), but he brings together a wide variety of ideas and reflections into one devastating conclusion in his new book Digital Liturgies: Rediscovering Christian Wisdom in an Online Age. At the heart of this book are two claims: “First, the Bible lays out the wisdom we need to live faithfully and fruitfully before our Creator. Second, the internet is an epistemological and moral habitat that makes such wisdom seem like foolishness. By... Read more

April 12, 2024

Every so often I am reminded just how visionary science fiction authors can be. Granted, there is a ton of sci-fi out there, so just statistically it makes sense that many predictions will come true. That was reinforced when I came across Theodore Sturgeon’s 1960 book Venus Plus X, and again: this book was published in 1960. Before Second Wave Feminism took off. Before the homosexual movement took off in the mainstream in the 1990s and early 2000s. Before the gender discussion we’re... Read more

April 5, 2024

While it has been a second since I’ve read The Maltese Falcon or seen the movie, I suspect that in either version of the story Sam Spade didn’t spend all of his time studiously avoiding detective work in favor of swimming naked in his pool and failing to solve any part of the mystery he encounters along the way. Yet–spoiler alert from here on out–that is very much what happens in Monsieur Spade, the fan-fiction-esque reboot of the noir classic detective. Long... Read more

March 29, 2024

I started to write that the Ghostbusters franchise has had only mixed success–both Ghostbusters 2 and Ghostbusters: Answer the Call notoriously underperformed, while the original movie, video game, animated series, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife are all solid home runs. And yet, two not-so-great films set against two fantastic films and a solid video game (not to mention dozens of excellent animated episodes) can hardly be counted as “mixed.” So I think it’s better to say that the franchise is an artistic success. We have hundreds of... Read more

March 22, 2024

Given what the DC world has done with Batman and the Joker’s relationship (reason and order vs the impulse to chaos), it makes sense that someone would attempt a crossover with the Lovecraft mythos. And in fact that has been done with The Doom that Came to Gotham, directed by Sam Liu (there’s also a graphic novel by Mike Mignola that I’ve not read–though I’ll be rectifying that in the new future). And for what it’s worth, this is a pretty... Read more

March 15, 2024

The headline is of course a touch unfair. The Sci-Fi channel version of Dune was respectable enough. But the David Lynch Dune is best left unmentioned–so bad that fans of the novel twist themselves into knots trying to find ways to like it. (The fact that it was the only game in town for almost two decades went a long ways to towards bringing people into its camp.) And let me go ahead and insert my standard position on the novel here and get... Read more

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