A Modern Voice Can Survive

pleasantville2-1
I collect books about hunting and fishing from the 50s, 60s and early 70s. In them I see the images and hear the voices that taught my father to hunt and fish, to be outside in pursuit of something, and I hear strains of how he taught me: this is a personal obsession much more than an academic one. Still, I love titles like Why Fish Bite and Why They Don’t (1961), and Game Cookery (1967). I love the examples of some of the first mass printing of color photography, and captions that read “A quiet afternoon on the lake is the best way to enjoy the Great Outdoors.” I love the authoritative voices of the authors detailing the best way to build a duck blind, or how to tie an Improved Clinch Knot. Read More

Twist and Shout: Sex as Metaphor

21 Samson_and_Delilah_by_Rubens

When the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan in 1964 singing “Twist and Shout,” the veins in John Lennon’s neck bulged as he screamed the lyrics above the noise of the crowd. There were 700 in attendance that night, but 50,000 people had requested tickets to see the Beatles perform and 73 million people watched from home. What did the Beatles tap into that wrung screams and tears from their audience? It was something a little unexpected: metaphor. Metaphor has two parts: tenor, which is the subject of the metaphor, and vehicle, the way that subject is delivered. While teens around the country were over the moon with the Beatles’ sexy looks and lyrics – the vehicle of their art – what hit a nerve and gave them lasting celebrity was their tenor of longing. Sex is reflected everywhere in our culture; music, films, TV shows, books, and a lot of times, there is no metaphor, just sex. But many artists know that sex is an apt vehicle for longing. Read More

Gnostic Noah

noah

Should we care that Darren Aronofsky depended on gnostic texts for much of his story?

I loved Noah the first time I saw it. I still love Noah, even after reading, and agreeing with, the in-depth analysis by several writers, showing that much of the detail of the film comes from the Kabbalah and other ancient gnostic and pre-gnostic sources. Read More

Under the Overpass

overpass

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor.” (2 Cor 8:9)

Mike Yankoski’s Under the Overpass recounts the story of how he radically took these words to heart, taking the reader on quite a journey. It is the tale of the experience of an upper-middle-class young man who has an existential crisis of sorts. After hearing a sermon on the necessity that Christian action match confession, manifesting itself in truly caring for a needy world, he was powerfully struck with a crisis of whether his faith in Christ was weighty enough to genuinely identify with the poor in their suffering. An idea began to form in his mind that compelled him on a journey deep into the existential reality of the poor among us: he became homeless. For five months, along with a friend who decided to take the journey with him, he wandered the streets of several of America’s cities with no place to call home and no idea where his next meal was going to come from. While Yankoski might not exactly be an excellent writer (he’s a young guy), and the dialogue between him and his companion sometimes leaves something to be desired, in the end the idea acted out and some of the experiences he has are so compelling that one can’t help but be affected. Read More