Mysteries, Monasticism, and Podcasts 3.17.17


  1. Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Great vacation reading, right? This is one of Dickens’s longest works, and one of the first mystery novels. Before Sherlock Holmes, there was Inspector Bucket. Dickens’s skill in characterization is perhaps at its height in this novel, and his descriptions of London are some of the most memorable in English literature. He begins the story by describing fog in London: “Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping…Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights.” And you, the reader, will remain in a fog for much of the text, as this story of mystery unfolds slowly with episodes of mad women, ghosts, a boy from the slums, and a woman from the richest family in England. If you like mysteries and social satire, this is worth the read.
  1. Q podcasts. Q usually produces some thoughtful podcasts, and I wasn’t disappointed by the two I listened to this week. “Activism,” released on February 9, is a refreshing look at the value and pitfalls of social activism, especially in light of recent events. “Transgenderism,” released on January 12, is a topic that needs to be thought about by the church. This podcast is a helpful introduction to transgenderism and possible responses of Christians.
  1. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, illustrated by Matt Kish. I would love to say that I had the time to re-read this entire book, but I didn’t. The first time I read Conrad, I went to my professor and asked him, “Why has no one made me read this before?” But this mention is not about the book itself—it’s about a recent version that came out with artwork that goes with EVERY PAGE. Matt Kish, who has also illustrated Moby Dick, wrote a foreword to the version that includes his illustration, and it’s this that I read and that has been on my mind ever since.The artwork isn’t even my favorite style–but the thought process behind each piece is astounding. If you like Heart of Darkness, or have never read it, you might consider this version (artwork not recommended for under age 17, as the book itself has some gory descriptions that are sometimes reproduced).
  1. This article by James K.A. Smith. I’ve been following the discussion surrounding Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option, which was recently published. I have yet to read it, but this article is an interesting criticism of Dreher. I’ll be seeing both authors speak this summer at the Society for Classical Learning (panel discussion, please??), so I’m following the back story as much as possible. Even if you’re not familiar with Smith or Dreher, this article asks some valuable questions about the role of the church in today’s society.

2 thoughts on “Mysteries, Monasticism, and Podcasts 3.17.17

  1. That article in Comment by Jamie Smith is great! I wish that had been his approach and tone in his hit piece in The Washington Post ( I’m about halfway through with Dreher’s book. I think it is really good, though I do think he is hyperventilating a bit about how terrible everything is. But, like Ross Douthat (, I think the real value to the book is in his suggestions for how Christians can build thicker community.


    1. I’ll have to look at that Douthat article- and speaking of Dreher and Douthat, this is worth listening to:

      It took me a few commutes, but the panelists have some insightful critiques/supports for Dreher, and Douthat is there. I’m interested in the implications for schools and universities that emerge from Dreher’s argument, and then Smith’s argument as well. I think that school missions are affected by both perspectives.

      I’ll have to get the book in May!!


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