• Still image from the opening of Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ movie.
    Reflections

    Considering Barbie (and Marriage and Singleness)

    Being human can be very uncomfortable … People make up things like the patriarchy and Barbie to endure how uncomfortable it is. Jen and I saw Barbie over the weekend. We both liked it; were both surprised by it. I thought it was funny and smart and multi-layered to a degree that I still haven’t fathomed. The film’s reframing of sexual politics as an existential problem allows it to address deeper human questions that apply to both men and women. I also found it surprisingly compassionate. It managed to proclaim the let’s-take-down-the-patriarchy part of its message without anger and without, as Jen put it, being preachy. Barbie’s final rejection of…

  • Cover illustration of Tolkien's "Smith of Wootton Major" by Pauline Baynes.
    Reflections

    What’s the Point of Christian Fiction?

    What’s the point of Christian fiction? Can it do any good? Should it even exist? These are some of the questions I have been mulling over as I have been working on several novels over the last ten (or thirty) years or so. I have found them difficult to answer, but here are some scattered ideas that I have tried to rake into a pile. Should Christian Fiction Even Exist? From one point of view, the whole notion of “Christian fiction” is dubious or offensive From one point of view (often a “literary” point of view), the whole notion of “Christian fiction” is dubious or offensive. Christians should seek to…

  • Klara and the Sun Book Cover
    Reflections

    Review: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Minor spoilers for the novel follow. Published in 2021, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun predates the excitement and consternation generated by the advent of large-language-model AIs. Yet this astonishing novel has some important things to say to us about quasi-intelligent machines, and how our interactions with them might affect us. Klara, the protagonist and narrator is an android—or AF (artificial friend)—built to provide companionship to a human child. As we first meet her in her shop window, waiting to be purchased and looking out on the world, we encounter a mind that is charming and strange. Klara is curious, childlike, innocent and compliant, but she is also highly perceptive…

  • Reflections

    Toy Story 4 and the Gods That Fail

    Recently I have been listening to, and very much enjoying, Nate Morgan Locke. Nate appears regularly with Glen Scrivener on the “Speak Life” podcast and vlogs on his own Youtube channel as the “Reformed Mythologist”. Nate thinks deeply about fun things—especially movies. He explores the nature and history of our cultural artefacts and ferrets out their themes and their appeal with a clear-eyed appreciation of the world as the Bible describes it. Most of the time, I think he gets things right. But not always. And that brings me to Toy Story 4. You. Are. A. Toy! As you can see if you watch his discussion, Nate is a big…

  • Reflections

    Gravity Waves and Singing Stars

    “In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.” Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Last week, scientists announced the discovery that the universe is vibrating with low frequency gravity waves. Music analogies proliferated. It was a “cosmic bass note”, a “hum”, a “chorus”, the “background sound of the universe”. Astronomer Adam Frank, writing in The Atlantic, put it most poetically: The whole universe is humming. Actually, the whole universe is Mongolian throat singing. Every star, every planet, every continent, every building,…

  • Reflections

    Idol Prayers

    John Calvin famously declared that humans are, by nature, always creating idols. I’m afraid to say that is especially true for people like me who find that creativity itself is our chief idol. I am tempted to find my own invention more interesting than God’s. I am tempted to find greater satisfaction in the things I might make or write than the infinitely greater things God has done for me. I am disproportionately attracted to ideas (even theological ideas) that I have worked out for myself. I don’t want to reject my creativity—it’s a good gift of God. But nor do I want it to have free rein over my…