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Convicted by “Silence”

Most self-help books are about as insightful as the latest Buzzfeed quiz. They’re not even full of “sound and fury, signifying nothing”; they skip to the last bit: nothing. That may be my own pride speaking, of thinking I’m “above” self-help books, but it’s a gut reaction I can’t seem to shake each time I break down and check out the latest bestsellers in the category.

I’ve often found that novels and movies can be much more inspiring and insightful than books and videos which try so hard to tell me things I’ve heard before.

Christmas in strip film concept abstract

Christmas Movies and the Post-Holiday Blues

The day after Christmas. Dishes lie in piles by the sink, the fridge is full of leftovers packed in Tetris-like, diets are discarded along with wrapping paper, and most family and friends have left, leaving behind a lonely, quiet sense in the house. The season feels deflated; even with New Year’s Eve around the corner, it’s as if the holiday is over, but without a dénouement.

For some, the holidays are still in full swing; after all, there’s still plenty of time for good cheer and merriment to make another round.

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The Struggle Between Work and Leisure

There are few folks I know who aren’t obsessed with work—with being productive and busy, accounting for every second of every day. I have friends who either nurture or cast off friendships on the merit of how useful that person will be in their career. For all the hand-wringing of concerned Baby Boomers, Millennials are not as lazy and entitled as the headlines make them out to be.

We’ve forgotten how to rest well–how to account for our time without appealing to its productivity.

A man walking in front of a mural

In Praise of Walking

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk.” Søren Kierkegaard

As I walked into the ragged autumn air, I found my mind wandering away from the distractions of the world.  A simple act, to go out for a walk, yet one I find as essential as any other.  It is a bellows which breathes fresh air into my soul.

I tend towards familiar ground, letting my feet pull me closer to a local park with trails through the forest.

A scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge

The Danger of Christian Films Seen in Hacksaw Ridge

Christians crave the Hollywoodization of our faith. We pine for accurate depictions of Christians in film and television, and we petition for Christian movies in theaters. As a Christian film critic, many assume I enjoy most of the faith-based movies that are being produced in response to this desire, but just like most critics, I don’t.

The tendency for Christians to throw their weight behind entertainment helped pave the way for independent, church-backed films like Courageous and War Room, faith-friendly sports fare like The Blind Side and Woodlawn, and inspirational movies like God’s Not Dead. 

An airplane landing on the Hudson River

We Create Our Memories, but What Do They Say About Us?

Memory is a tricky thing. It can change how we view our history, both individually and collectively. And memory only survives through storytelling, jumbled up words and events that are strung out in sequences. In sharing a story, we continually bring life to previous events, reinventing them with each retelling.

This tendency toward storytelling is especially noticeable in us writers. We tend to think in terms of narrative; we live and breathe it. We process the world and think about our lives as if we’re telling a tale.

A woman with a smartphone taking a picture of a Polaroid

The Problem Isn’t That We’re Too Distracted — We’re Too Human

It’s 9:00 p.m. on a weeknight. I sit at my desk, face illuminated by the blank page before me, interrupted only by the blinking cursor. I look down at the time; I have about three hours to write before I should go to bed. With so much time, I reason, I’ll do a quick sweep of Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and my RSS feeds.

After just a few moments, I check the time again. It’s 11:30 p.m., and I finally give up.