The Christian church is facing a crisis. It is losing face, hemorrhaging influence in the public sphere of Western civilization, churches decline in membership, and increasing swaths of people are not longer interested in what Christianity has to offer. This apparent decline is not a new trend to be sure—and stems, at least in part, from the ecclesiastical shift which began during the Protestant Reformation—but it is no less concerning. In order to address these
Most of the reviews I write deal with blockbuster movies, since that’s the type of film I know most readers will be seeing. That said, I also try to make a point of engaging with art that falls outside the domains with which I’m conventionally familiar. Since I happen to already be an Amazon Prime subscriber, I thought I’d give “Transparent” a look (particularly given how much I enjoyed Amazon’s “Mozart In The Jungle,” which
Baptism. Until you’ve looked into the issue, it might seem like one of those odd topics that some people love to discuss, but in the end the answer you land on isn’t super important. At least that’s what I had thought. Recently though, I decided that Baptism was a topic that deserved a closer look. Towards that end, I borrowed a couple books and got to reading. The first of these books was Alan Conner’s
Clint Eastwood’s biographical study of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle – a sniper credited with over 160 confirmed kills, the most in U.S. military history – will likely be remembered as the “Saving Private Ryan” of the Iraq War. This will undoubtedly seem high praise for a film which just opened in wide release: “American Sniper,” however, not only offers an exceptional character study, but brilliantly captures the conflicted cultural ethos surrounding a war to which
Much talked about, “The Interview” is pretty straightforward: TV host Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen), while planning a trip to Pyongyang to interview dictator Kim Jong Un, are recruited for a covert assassination mission by CIA agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan). The resulting chaos involves puppies, Katy Perry’s “Firework”, tank battles, fake grapefruits, basketball games (a satisfying potshot in Dennis Rodman’s direction) and giant Siberian tigers, among other things. John Ehrett offers his review.
Few movie stars are more ubiquitously typecast than Benedict Cumberbatch, whose rise to cultural prominence has been nothing short of meteoric. Cumberbatch is now a go-to star for directors seeking a genius or supervillain, coupling a certain aristocratic British charm with a Sheldon Cooperesque tendency to hold average society in utter contempt. “The Imitation Game,” in which Cumberbatch stars as cryptologist and early computer engineer Alan Turing, capitalizes on these strengths while simultaneously probing deeper.
I am always looking for good books to help teach my daughters the beauty of the Christian message. This Christmas season my daughters received several new Christian-themed children’s books. In this post I would like to review three of them, two of which I obtained free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and one that I purchased for my girls as a Christmas gift. Let There Be Light by Desmond Tutu
Theology after Vedanta: An Experiment in Comparative Theology offers an important step forward in comparative studies, laying a foundation for a fruitful (re)reading and (re)working of theological conceptions in our pluralistic context.
As a PhD student, I read a lot. I read for work, school, and fun—hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages each week. Very rarely, however, do I encounter a book that is uproariously funny. Even rarer are books which are simultaneously hilarious and theologically sound. C. T. Casberg’s Genesis of the Dead: A Zombie Comedy of Biblical Proportions, however, fits this bill perfectly. A joy to read, Genesis of the Dead is both side-splittingly-funny and theologically
Very few books are must reads, especially for busy, sleep-deprived, tired-of-reading-books-for-class college students (or their even more taxed cousins, the grad student). Rarely does something come along that clearly and concisely explains complex issues with clarity and precision. Ten years ago, one such book came along: The Drama of Scripture, which captivated readers and shed much need lucidity on discerning the Biblical narrative. Now, ten years later, Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen have
While much of the field of the History of Christianity (and indeed, history in general) focuses on the great people and ideas of the tradition or period being studied, the genre of “people’s history” seeks to raise awareness of the ways in which ordinary people have lived throughout time and space. Admirable as this project sounds, it is not without its problems. In my experience, many “people’s histories” tend to make significant assumptions concerning the
“Can you love your neighbor as yourself and at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can?” The recently released documentary Fight Church is a fascinating narrative that seeks to understand the intriguing intersection between Christianity and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It spotlights the ministries of numerous pastors who live both as leaders of church congregations and of MMA “fight ministries,” where “feet, fist, and faith collide.” Numerous subplots
In Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul (Thomas Nelson, 2013), Ralph K. Hawkins and Richard Leslie Parrott outline ten principles for leadership building from the life and failures of King Saul of Israel. Leadership Lessons uses the “worst practices” model of instruction, learning through the examination of the failures of others, much in the model of Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima’s classic Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership. Beginning with an explanation of
Some authors make a lasting impression on one’s mind, for good or for bad. For me, one such writer is Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55), whom I first engaged while an undergraduate at Valparaiso University. While reading Kierkegaard, one cannot help but be flummoxed by large portions of his prose—there’s simply too much there to engage in its fullness. You are like a kindergartener, who is desperately trying to make sense of a chalkboard filled with Einstein’s
Part of a three book series on the Historical Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism to the Transfiguration (Image, 2007) begins Joseph Ratzinger’s examination of the life and teaching of the founder of Christianity.† In this book Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) engages the major moments and messages from Jesus’ ministry, combining historical, literary, and theological insights into a masterful work not only on the “Historical Jesus” of scholarship, but also on the “Living Jesus”
Some thoughts are too big for fiction and movies. I was thinking that when I watched God is Not Dead for the first time a few weeks ago. Yes, I put it off for as long as I possibly could. As much as I like to support Christian films (I am a film script writer, after all), I find that I cringe my way through many of them. Though there were some commendable points to
My previous post introduced Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis,1 in which he argues that the medieval conception of the Seven Heavens serves as the basis for the seven Chronicles of Narnia, with Lewis using the characteristic ethos of each planetary intelligence as the paradigm for his books. In this post, we turn to an explicit consideration of how the evidence of the Chronicles of Narnia fits
Some of my favorite books are the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. While Lewis’s tales of the adventures of the Pevensie children (and later Eustace and Polly) in the land of Narnia are for many little more than entertaining children’s books, I find myself returning to this series again and again. And while I cannot claim to speak on behalf of everyone who has read Chronicles, I know there are many other readers,
Way of The Ascetics, by Tito Colliander, is a profound little book that should be a required reading for every Christian. Simple and clear, Colliander proffers the experience of the Orthodox Church together with the fathers about the inner life of the Christian. The book begins with an exhortation to rise to the challenge of living the Christian life, for “Faith comes not through pondering but through action” (Colliander, 1). The “action” he is referring
The sixteenth-century was a period of theological transformation and debate unlike any other time in the history of Western Christianity. In their work Biblical Scholarship and the Church, Allan Jenkins and Patrick Preston encounter issues of scriptural authority, translation, and interpretation within the context of sixteenth-century Christianity. In this work Jenkins and Preston examine three examples of controversy concerning the authority of scripture for Christian teaching and practice, especially scholarly concerns with the authority of