Category: Books

Finding communal comfort in David Zahl’s Mess of Help

I would say that books like David Zahl’s A Mess Of Help make me feel less alone in the world, if there were any other books like David Zahl’s A Mess Of Help to be found. The fact is, there are not. Conversations such as these are too often relegated to pubs, festivals and backstage green rooms. Few are we who equally obsess over things cultural and theological with this level of passion and borderline…  [more]

The boy who cried heaven – and the belief industry that encouraged him

Last week, Tyndale House Publishers stopped production of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven after Alex Malarkey, the boy in question, announced that he had made up the tale. Cheeky jokes about the family’s surname aside, this is a serious matter that shouldn't go gently away, but rather stand as a reminder of what it means to speak for and about God, the Christian life and the kingdom at hand. Years…  [more]

Station Eleven and hope amidst apocalypse

Post-apocalyptic literature assumes the worst: pestilence, viruses and zombie uprisings fill the pages of many top-selling books, television shows and video games. It is also a genre that immediately forces questions of meaning onto its readers. What does it mean to survive? What is worth holding onto? To what lengths might people go in order to preserve what they see as good, pure and honorable? In Emily St. John…  [more]

What happened to The Hobbit?

Now that Peter Jackson has concluded his three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, I think it’s fair to say that the entire experience has been underwhelming. Yes, the movies continue to rake in money at the box office. Yet as a group, these films have received mostly mixed reviews, weathered their fair share of jokes about elf love triangles and…  [more]

Honoring complexity in Marilynne Robinson’s Lila

In her New York Times review of Lila, Diane Johnson commends the book’s author, Marilynne Robinson, for writing about faith. It’s an act she describes as downright “courageous” given the violent and negative associations with religion today. While Robinson has never been one to shrink from writing about matters of faith, she is hesitant to describe herself as “a religious…  [more]

The liturgical nature of National Novel Writing Month

My name is Chad Comello and I am a failed novelist. I’m in the midst of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which issues a lofty goal for aspiring literary types: write 50,000 words in the span of 30 days, no matter what. Budding scribes of every stripe participate in this movement throughout the month of November, all with the goal of a first draft by Dec. 1. The point is not to make it good, only to…  [more]

Mary Gordon’s The Liar’s Wife and the spiritual gift of attentiveness

Mary Gordon’s latest work, The Liar’s Wife, is a collection of novellas whose settings span Europe and America, pre- and post-World War II, and whose narrators are surprisingly adept truth-tellers - so deft, in fact, as to tell you truths about yourself that you might have a hard time believing. There is Jocelyn, who finds herself tending her dead mother’s house at the height of post-retirement…  [more]

The holy sanctuary of public libraries

As a reference librarian at a suburban public library, I sit at the information desk, waiting to answer patrons’ many different questions. On Friday evenings, the foot traffic slows and a soothing silence descends on my area. Save the soft clattering of the keyboards in the computer lab, it is mercifully quiet. It’s in these moments I realize: I’m in a holy place. As civil institutions funded…  [more]

Sea-ologians of the deep

At one point in Richard Linklater's Boyhood, Mason asks his father if there's magic in the world. Probably not literal magic, his dad replies. But then he asks the boy: if you didn’t know what a whale was and someone told you there was a giant mammal that lived underwater with a heart as big as a car and arteries you could crawl through, wouldn't you find…  [more]

Bibliotheca and the real reason we call the Bible boring

“The Bible is boring.” As a pastor and professor, I have heard this lament countless times. I have heard it from college students, church members, the lips of my three children and my own mouth. Recognizing this as a growing trend in America, book designer Adam Lewis Greene has set about the task of conducting a new public relations campaign for the “the Good Book” that he’s calling…  [more]

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