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    “The Beauty of the Dream Vanished”: <i>Frankenstein</i>, the Fall, and the Failures of Romanticism

    “The Beauty of the Dream Vanished”: Frankenstein, the Fall, and the Failures of Romanticism

    Mary Shelley’s cautionary tale Frankenstein turned two hundred years old this year, accompanied by essays, conferences, and celebrations of its enduring influence. Many of these have focused on what is most often taken as the book’s main theme: a warning against pursuing scientific progress and invention heedless of social cost or ethical responsibility. While ambition channeled through […]

    Christopher Nolan’s <i>Dunkirk</i> and the Problems of Postmodern Narrative

    Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and the Problems of Postmodern Narrative

    From May 27th to June 4th, 1940, the French port city of Dunkirk witnessed one of the most significant and history-altering military operations ever undertaken, the evacuation across the English Channel of nearly 400,000 British and French soldiers, right from under the teeth of the German army. You would know nearly nothing about it from […]

    A Leaf on the Wind

    A Leaf on the Wind

    First Reading: “The average person, seeing that we can predict tides pretty well a few months ahead would say, why can’t we do the same thing with the atmosphere, it’s just a different fluid system, the laws are about as complicated. But I realized that any physical system that behaved aperiodically would be unpredictable.” ~ Edward […]

    A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

    A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

    However many years a man may live,    let him enjoy them all.    But let him remember the days of       darkness,    for they will be many. — Ecclesiastes 11:8 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:5 I wake up mornings in […]

    What Has Hollywood to Do with Jerusalem?: Production Values and Proclaiming the Gospel in the “Ark Encounter” and <i>Ben Hur</i>

    What Has Hollywood to Do with Jerusalem?: Production Values and Proclaiming the Gospel in the “Ark Encounter” and Ben Hur

    If size matters, the new theme park in northern Kentucky, the Ark Encounter, is a massive success. The center-piece of the park, which opened in mid-July, is a full-size replica of Noah’s ark, over 500 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high. It is, according to the Ark Encounter website, the “largest timber-frame […]

    The Culture of Narcissism, Pt 4: Good News for Narcissists

    The Culture of Narcissism, Pt 4: Good News for Narcissists

    Here is the conclusion to the series inspired by Christopher Lasch’s book, The Culture of Narcissism. Find the rest of the series here. “Our society is narcissistic, then, in a double sense. People with narcissistic personalities…play a conspicuous part in contemporary life…these celebrities set the tone for public life and of private life as well…The beautiful people…live […]

    The Culture of Narcissism, Part 3: The Religion of "Me"

    The Culture of Narcissism, Part 3: The Religion of “Me”

    Here is the penultimate post in a series inspired by Christopher Lasch’s book, The Culture of Narcissism. Back in 1987, when the New Age movement had not yet become just another part of the spiritual background noise of postmodern America, ABC television mainstreamed one branch of the movement in the miniseries “Out on a Limb,” […]

    The Culture of Narcissism, Part 2: Sex and the Self

    The Culture of Narcissism, Part 2: Sex and the Self

    This is the second part in a series inspired by Christopher Lasch’s 1979 book, The Culture of Narcissism. Narcissism is the self in love with itself; it’s believing the world revolves around one’s ego. While narcissists lack regard for the needs of others, they crave attention, admiration, and even envy to bolster their own self-esteem. […]

    The Culture of Narcissism, Part 1: Politics and Personhood

    The Culture of Narcissism, Part 1: Politics and Personhood

    This is the first in a four-part series inspired by Christopher Lasch’s 1979 book The Culture of Narcissism. In the present presidential contest, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was the first person to say it out loud, to use the “N” word for Donald Trump. That’s right, he called Trump a narcissist. Specifically, in his news […]

    An Artful Hell: Théodore Géricault’s <i>The Raft of the Medusa</i>

    An Artful Hell: Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa

    Hope for forgiveness and the Kingdom of Heaven beyond our human moral bankruptcy has been replaced by progressive Utopian visions where well-adjusted inhabitants are provided for in an earthly paradise. But the knowledge of who we really are and the true state of our predicament surfaces regularly in our cultural history, if we are paying […]

    Jesus and the Dinosaurs: Nature, Salvation, and History

    Jesus and the Dinosaurs: Nature, Salvation, and History

    Last week, the online edition of Nature, the premier journal for the natural sciences, published a study by evolutionary biologist Mary Schweitzer which confirmed the presence of medullary bone in the fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex discovered in Montana in 2000. Medullary bone is found, in living species, only in birds and is uniquely associated with […]

    Numbers: The Perfectly Reasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics

    Numbers: The Perfectly Reasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics

    In honor of Pi Day… The first time I experienced the deep connection between math and physical reality was in performing a high school chemistry experiment to discover whether the antacid Rolaids really did consume 47 times its weight in excess acid. The experiment involved very precise weighing and an acid-base titration. I grew up […]