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Owl Post 8-19-14

Owl Post

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The Problem with Christian Films

gods_not_deadThis past year has been the year of the Christian film. We have seen an explosion of Christian-themed and Christian-produced films, each seemingly more financially successful than the last. In the words of Scott Mendelson, box office analyst for, “I think we can safely say that 2014 is the year that Christian-themed religious pictures officially outnumbered comic book superhero films. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it definitely is a thing.”

Confronting Reality By Reading Fantasy

TheLionWitchWardrobe(1stEd)“If you were in a room full of books,” Lev Grossman writes in his latest novel, The Magician’s Land, “you were at least halfway home.” For Grossman, no books feel more like home than C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, which provide the template for what he likes to read—and how he wants to write. In our conversation for this series, Grossman explained what The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe taught him about fiction, what makes Lewis’s work so radically inventive, and why his own stories must step through the looking glass into fantasy.

Five Principles of the New Sexual Morality

boy_girl_symbolsThe sociologist Mark Regnerus recently published a piece for the Witherington Institute’s Public Discourse, suggesting that support for same-sex marriage in some Christian circles correlates to broader shifts in morality surrounding sexuality and relations. Survey respondents were asked to declare their level of agreement with seven statements relating to the issues of pornography, cohabitation, no-strings-attached sex, the duty of staying in a marriage, extramarital sex, polyamorous relationships, and abortion. The results illustrated pronounced fault lines between those committed to historic Christian stances on sexual morality and supporters of same-sex marriage.

I Quit Liking Things On Facebook for Two Weeks. Here’s How It Changed My View of Humanity

Facebook-Like2On August 1st, I announced that I was going to quit liking things on Facebook. At the time, I simply stated that I no longer wanted to be as active a participant in teaching Facebook how to advertise to me as I had been in the past, but another and much larger issue was my real curiosity: how was my Facebook experience going to change once I stopped feeding its engine with likes?

How To Keep the Spark Alive

sparksWhy do married couples have sex? And how can they ensure that they keep enjoying the sexual relationship throughout their marriage? This weekend I read through a pair of recent studies from the University of Toronto that offer some intriguing, though not shocking answers.

Why We Love to Read

reading-a-bookI have watched the avid outdoorsman, the fisherman, come slowly drifting by. He goes by morning after morning, day after day, always at the same time, always casting into the same locations. He is patiently waiting for the big one, waiting for that hard strike, that long battle that will land him his prize.

9/11 · abortion · atheism · Books · Christianity · ebooks · Film · Movies

Owl Post 9-11-2012


One World Trade Center: Construction Progress

After years of effort and numerous setbacks, three of the proposed seven towers to be built at the World Trade Center complex have “topped out,” reaching their structural maximum height. Seven WTC was completed in 2006, Four WTC topped out in June of this year, and the tallest, One World Trade Center (formerly known as Freedom Tower), just topped out at 104 floors on August 30. Financial difficulties have left the future of the remaining towers in doubt, and have raised concerns about the still-incomplete National September 11 Memorial and Museum, as the foundation that runs the memorial estimates that it will cost $60 million a year to operate. Gathered below are recent images of the rebuilding at ground zero in New York City.

The trouble with atheists: a defence of faith

Francis Spufford has heard all the arguments against Christianity. He understands the objections of Dawkins and Hitchens and he realises it’s a guess as to whether there’s a God or not. But here he offers a defence of his faith

Film and Theology… NO MORE?

The film… whoops, it was shot digitally… the movie introduces us to a wealth of storytellers: directors like Martin Scorsese,Christopher Nolan, George Lucas, David Fincher, Robert Rodriguez and cinematographers like Michael Chapman and Wally Pfister. While the transition that’s occurred over the last few decades has involved the obvious tensions – arguments sourced in nostalgia or rational comparisons of visual quality – the documentary reveals how much more involved the change has been, involving which part of the creative team has the most control, how it affects people’s employment, and even the different demands it puts on actors and those in front of the film or digital cameras.

Top 100 Teen Books

More than 75,000 ballots were cast in our annual summer reader’s survey — click here to see the full list of 100 books, complete with links and descriptions. Below is a printable list of the top 100 winners. And for even more great reads, check out the complete list of 235 finalists.

Reading for Worldviews

As a partial answer to that question, we’ve asked several Christian thinkers to examine the worldviews presented in the top 10 most-read books. Over the next several weeks we’ll present articles on each of the titles. Louis Markos, professor in English and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University, provides our introduction to the series. You can also read Douglas Wilson’s take on The Lord of the Rings.

Reading for Worldviews: Lord of the Rings

One of the disadvantages we have with books written in our lifetime—as compared with classic books from other eras—is kind of obvious if you stop to think about it. We don’t know which ones will be classics. We don’t know who to put into the line-up. Other centuries are picking on us unfairly. Those other generations had their dreck too, but almost none of that survived the test of time. Our dreck is still alive and well, and selling briskly. So when we make a comparison, we tend to imagine that the 14th century had a Chaucer on every other corner, while ours has an E. L. James in every Starbucks

3 Media-Made Myths about Abortion

It’s election season again, and our country’s ongoing debate over abortion is raging. In watching newscasters and reporters comment on the abortion debate, I’ve pinpointed three common myths about abortion perpetuated by people in the media.

Books · ebooks · The Gospel Coalition

Reviews I Didn’t Write

I love to read, but I do not have time to review every book; especially when there are so many good reviews out there already. So here are some great reviews of books I have read recently or are on my to read list. Hope you enjoy the reviews and then read the books!

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction: by Alan Jacobs 

It seems a rare accomplishment that a book on the pleasures of reading could actually pull off being pleasurable itself. But Alan Jacobs’ newest book, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, does just that. It is a marvelous manifesto of sanity in an age of jeremiads about the modern predicament of attention loss on one hand, and those proud champions of distraction singing the hallelujah chorus of a world devoid of long-form books on the other. “Read at Whim” is Jacob’s advice and motto for a new generation of readers. Read, Jacobs proclaims, for the sheer pleasure of reading; simply for the hell of it. And by all means, don’t get bogged down by the authoritarians who smugly look down their noses at those who aren’t reading the “right” books on the “list.”

Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History: By Christopher L. Bennett

In Forgotten History, Christopher Bennett returns to the world of The Department of Temporal Investigations, the quirky government body that oversees and regulates all the temporal, timey-wimey stuff in the Federation.  This story takes us to the very founding of the department by showing us flashbacks to the events that necessitated the creation of the DTI.  Much like in Bennett’s previous DTI novel, Watching the ClockForgotten History does an excellent job in explaining things from episodes of Star Trek that simply don’t make a lot of sense when considered in the grand tapestry of Trek history.  Oftentimes, people tend to forget that Star Trek wasn’t made with some kind of over-arching goal and narrative in mind; rather, it is a somewhat muddled hodge-podge of stories written over the course of 45 years by numerous writers.  Inevitably, something that writer B writes is going to clash with what writer A wrote years before.  In both this book and the previous DTI title, Bennett proves himself a master at bringing these disparate ideas together and creating a cohesive story from all the little bits that actually makes sense.  Forgotten History, for example, provides a valid reason why Starfleet crews aren’t always going back in time using the seemingly-easy slingshot-around-the-sun method.  It seems that it’s actually much more difficult than it seems, but then Mr. Bennett turns around and provides a perfectly cogent reason why Kirk and company are able to do it so easily in a Klingon bird-of-prey in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Another interesting so-called “ret-con” is the explanation provided for the alternate Earth featured in the original series episode “Miri,” other than the old fall-backs of “Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planet Development” or “The Preservers did it.”

What Money Can’t Buy: by Michael J. Sandel

Thinking morally about the economy is one of the most important topics of our time. In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael Sandel, professor of government at Harvard University, grapples with the tangible ethical issues where this question becomes most acute. He articulates important concerns in a clear and forceful way. However, he adopts a philosophical framework that limits his ability to connect morality to the economy. Even within that framework, his analyses tend to be one-sided and impressionistic. The result is a book that will no doubt gratify readers who already share Sandel’s assumptions and predispositions but probably frustrate those who don’t.

X-Wing Retrospective Part 1: Rogue Squadron: By Michael A. Stackpole

If you listen to podcast here at Tosche Station, (and if you do, great, if you don’t, why not?) you’ve heard that in honor of the coming latest addition to the fantastic X-Wing series, Mercy Kill, we’re presenting you a retrospective of the series.  It will provide a great opportunity for those of us who haven’t read the books in a very long time to refamiliarize ourselves with it.  That is actually my own situation—I love these books but somehow I haven’t read them for what must have been a solid decade.