Rose and I spent some time in self-quarantine after returning from visiting Resonate missionaries in the Dominican Republic. For us privileged people this is an obligatory holiday in a comfy place – our home with a big back yard. I’m reading to our grandkids in Ottawa and Grand Rapids via Zoom. We’ve skipped through Stuart Macleans’ Stories from the Vinyl Cafe and one story from James Herriot’s The Lord God Made Them All; eight-year old Japheth zoned out of that Yorkshire tale.
In 1967, the novelist John Barth wrote “The Literature of Exhaustion,” an essay arguing that unself-conscious storytelling was, well, exhausted. Henceforth, narrative art could only be self-aware, a sendup of itself. In 1971, NBC broadcast “Dead White,” an episode of the endlessly rewatchable TV detective show Columbo in which Eddie Albert kills a guy, and Suzanne Pleshette, passing by in her boat, sees him do it…
Try The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer. Twins Alex and Conner leave regular life behind when they travel through a storybook into a world where fairy tales are true, and their beloved grandmother is actually the Fairy Godmother. Can stories inspire us? Can we draw courage from the characters we read about? This warm, funny book is packed with adventure as Alex and Connor find out. (Junior fiction)
Although it isn’t by any means the most comforting or reassuring novel for the current moment, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. It’s the story of a post-apocalyptic world in which most of the population has been decimated by a flu pandemic. The narrative focuses on a group of actors and musicians known as the Travelling Symphony, who journey around what’s left of the Great Lakes region keeping hope and culture alive by performing the classics.
In a time when meeting and interacting with anyone new (outside of my new friends behind the grocery counter of course) seems to be far from commonplace, reading through Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers has been a life-giving and challenging read on our presuppositions when interacting with individuals who are new to us. I very much look forward to putting into practice some of Gladwell’s insights once our current isolated state comes to an end.
Phineas and Ferb are two brothers on summer vacation. Finding themselves with copious amounts of time on their hands, they spend it by creating elaborate inventions, thwarting the machinations of the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz, and annoying their sister Candace. My kids may not be creating elaborate, James Bondian contraptions, but they sure do have a lot of time on their hands now, and this show that celebrates imagination and open-ended, unstructured play is the perfect inspiration for them.
Twelve-year-old Petra – nicknamed Pet – lives with her parents and 16-year-old sister Mags in a lighthouse on the South East coast of England. Their lighthouse, called the Castle, is a short distance from Europe, where Hitler’s armies are advancing against France. Pet is a timid girl. When she panics, she feels as if she has turned to stone.
Harry Van Belle has written an invitation to those shaped by our secular age, to life as coram deo, lived before the face of God. This means seeking the meaning, intimacy and vitality that comes from recognizing that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jesus loves and cares for us, and calls us to a life of deep spirituality and love. Van Belle not only shows coram deo as a comprehensive approach to understanding human history and the Bible, but as a way of life that brings meaning to vocation, education, and the seasons of life.
There are many articulate explicators and defenders of the intellectual and moral legacy of Christianity in the modern world. Writers like David Bentley Hart, Larry Siedentop and Charles Taylor are incredibly erudite and persuasive, yet their books do not easily fit into the category of leisure reading, given their need for full consciousness, uninterrupted focus, and ready access to dictionaries.
I’ve appreciated Nadia Bolz-Weber’s books, blogs, sermons, and much of Shameless. But as a semi-retired, white-privileged pastor, I risk cultural (mis)appropriation, poking around in lives of people in ways that could harm – not help. You, though, Sara, working with university students, have a closer view into their lives and issues of sexuality. So, thanks for discussing this book together. How did Shameless affect your own life and work?
Twelve-year-old Jude lives in Syria with her parents and her brother Issa. So far, she’s known only the peace and joy of belonging to a loving family immersed in a Muslim community with a rich culture and devout religious practices. But now she’s begun to worry because Issa is always talking about revolution, democracy, and change.
Started by friends Michael Gungor and Mike McHargue in 2014, The Liturgists podcast isn’t afraid to try answering questions that the church might not be asking. Both Gungor and McHargue grew up in conservative Christian churches, and as they describe it, they “both lost their faith as adults and. . . both rediscovered spirituality through philosophy and mysticism.”