Social Issues

stuff I’ve been into: September edition

Mostly this month I’ve been into Halloween. I cannot even express how unbelievably excited about Halloween I am this year. For the past half-dozen years I’ve daydreamed about throwing a wildly extravagant All Hallow Eve’s costume party, and this is the first year I’ve been in my own house and have the space to entertain, so I’m finally doing it. It’s all I’ve really been able to talk about much, other than seminary and the big projects I’ve been doing at work. I’ve even been crafting, which long-term friends and family will tell you is not something I usually do.

Anyway, if you’d like to share in my Halloween joy, here’s my Pinterest board. I’ve decided to go with a white-black-and-gold color scheme, and a “Fairy Queen’s Study” theme. I start beaming every time I think about it. My favorite thing so far: we had about 50 hardbound Left Behind books at work left over from the end of the craze, and I’m turning them all into sorcery and witchcraft “books.” I think this is the best possible use for them. I’m positively gleeful at the image of Tim LaHaye turning green at the thought of what I’m doing to his books.

Articles on Feminism

I’ve spent a significant amount of time talking about the fact that there isn’t some sort of clearly delineated line between “rape as a horrible crime” and “wonderful sex.” Women, because of a variety of factors, experience this as a spectrum. “The Problem with how Men Perceive Rape,” by Lux Alptraum, is an excellent breakdown of all that.

When Detectives Dismiss Rape Reports before Investigating Them” by Alex Campbell and Katie Baker is a well-reported resource for talking about that whole “rape victims are lying, look at all these ‘unfounded’ reports” conversation MRAs love to have.

Remember that Atlantic article a while back about how women “can’t have it all”? Turns out the author’s come around a bit.

The Hidden Conservatism of American Horror Storyby Laura Bogart helped put into words the reaction I had to AHS when I tried to watch an episode– and why I continued thinking “nope” every time I saw a trailer for a new season.

Articles on Race

If you didn’t hear about the “hot chicken” debacle in Nashville a little bit ago, “Race, Credit, and Hot Chicken” by Betsy Phillips explains how covert and institutionalized racism contributed to that whole mess.

The White Protestant Roots of American Racism” by Alana Massey is a deep look into the centuries-old Christian justification for chattel slavery and also why American Christian culture is so caught up in seeing capitalism as an innately Christian concept– and also explores why those two things are linked.


Not a lot of time for fiction reading this month. I’ve mostly just been trying to keep my head above water with a heavier work schedule and finding my footing with seminary. The best book I’ve read so far for seminary has been Jewish Bioethics: Rabbinic Law and Theology in Their Social and Historical Contexts by Yechiel Barilan. It was fascinating to see how Jewish I’ve become in my thinking about faith, the Tanakh (Old Testament), and Jesus. This isn’t exactly shocking news– I’ve been prioritizing Jewish perspectives on the Old Testament in my research for a few years now, and I read The Jewish Annotated New Testament when I’m studying something there. I’ve also got Amy-Jill Levine’s Short Stories by Jesus as a go-to resource, too. It’s not a revelation of any kind to say “Jesus was Jewish,” but I think we’ve lost that almost completely in a lot of ways. Anyway, if you’ve got the time to read a seminary-level text, Jewish Bioethics is an amazing book.

I did finish the Night Angel trilogy. It’s solidly good, although it becomes apparent by the last book that Brent Weeks, the author, is a Christian– characters start quoting the Bible, and the climax of the whole series embodies a crucifixion-style Atonement (although, bonus: the Christ Figure is a woman). I didn’t mind the Christian themes since they didn’t damage the writing or the narrative, but I will say I was plumb annoyed toward the end when purity culture reared its ugly head for no gosh darn reason. There’s also some heavy handed “men are ___” and “women are ____,” but the trilogy was enjoyable enough and the women characters well-rounded enough to let me shrug it off.

Whoever told me to check out Michelle Sagara, I have one of her books coming for me at the library, and I’ll let you know what I think.

TV and Movies

Still enjoying The Good Wife, although season five is hella tense. In order to break up some of that tension, I introduced Handsome to Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, which has actual-goddess Krysten Ritter. Also, Luke Cage released today, and that’s what we’re binge-watching this weekend. The creator, Cheo Hodari Coker, saying “the world is ready for a bulletproof black man” makes me want to cry. I can’t wait to see it.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was lovely and melancholy and sweet and funny, and I highly recommend it. I’ve also been raving about Ex Machina– the ending oh my god the ending. Sweet mother of God. I also enjoyed The Martian a lot more than I thought I was going to– I absolutely loathed Cast Away and I thought The Martian was basically going to be “Cast Away in Space.” It’s not. It’s hilarious. I cannot say enough good things about Spotlight and Concussion, either.


So what all have you been reading and watching?

Photo by Matthew Howarth
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  • I meant to share this one in the piece itself, but I forgot to include it. I’ll update the post later this evening with the link, but for now, this is relevant to our interests:

    Jessica might be excommunicated from the PCA because she divorced her abusive husband, and the church fired her for divorcing him, she didn’t just quietly take it.

  • Larkin

    I think the Michelle Sagara recommendation might have been me a while back. I hope you enjoy her! Also, Patricia McKillip is excellent (and my favorite) and anything by Robin McKinley. I might not have been on this account then … but I still hope you enjoy her!

    • Erik K

      I also suggested her the last round-up, so now you know you have at least two people eager to hear your thoughts. ^_^

  • Sarah S

    “My favorite thing so far: we had about 50 hardbound Left Behind books at work left over from the end of the craze, and I’m turning them all into sorcery and witchcraft “books.” I think this is the best possible use for them. I’m positively gleeful at the image of Tim LaHaye turning green at the thought of what I’m doing to his books.”

    I adore this! Haha!

    • That has to be the BEST possible use for all those left over LB books out there… I wonder if something similar could be done with all those abandoned 50 Shades volumes that can’t be sold and can’t even be recycled because of the glue used in them… some sturdy cardboard to simulate a hardcover… maybe?

      • Sarah S

        Yes, I bet you could 🙂

        • See, I have a *complete set* of the softcover trade paperback editions of the Left Behind books. Part of me wants to keep them readable for the sheer fact of knowing that they actually exist and that I read them and swallowed their crap once upon a time. But I also have this whole row of books on the shelf that just… don’t make me proud seeing them up there. Maybe if I were to ever get a glue gun or something I could get some sturdy board and use rope to create the look of an old-fashioned binding, then cover it over with fabric and then decorate the fabric with stuff… It’d certainly make them more useful.

          • You can also use the paper for craft projects, like making wreaths and ornaments and stuff.

          • Yeah, that’d be a possibility if I weren’t constitutionally incapable of actually *destroying* a book’s primary function without having multiple copies on hand. Too many libraries burned, too many books destroyed for me to want to see even a HORRIFIC one completely lost. I realize that the chances of that with all the spare copies running around go from slim to none at most… but a fear born of emotion doesn’t respond to base probability very well.

    • Erik K

      Tim LaHaye actually died recently. Jerry Jerkins (sorry, Jenkins) is alive and still writing and scamming new writers, so maybe he’ll hear about it and have an appropriate reaction! (Well, probably not appropriate, because that would be very much like Zaccheus’s reaction and I don’t see Jerkins giving away his fortune and making a public confession.)

  • Ex Machina. My goodness. Such a good, unsettling movie.

  • Amanda

    ‘I thought The Martian was basically going to be “Cast Away in Space.”‘ LOL I totally did too. Although I didn’t hate Cast Away, it got kind of boring a lot. The Martian was really good.

    I’ve been getting into biblical theology, reading “Sin and its Consequences in Biblical Theology” by Mark Biddle and “Dirt, Greed, and Sex” by L. William Countryman. So far, I really appreciate the approach these authors take to scripture. They consider what the Bible says holistically (taking into account historical context), consider different possible interpretations on their own merits (not just whether it agrees with their preconceived notions), and actually acknowledge when something is unclear. They also don’t assume that everything that’s in the Bible has to be applied today – they consider philosophy, psychology, the social sciences etc and what these can tell us. I’m not sure if this is true of people who do “biblical theology” across the board but if so, I wish I had come across it sooner. It’s a whole new world. I’m in academia (though not in the field of theology), so I find this approach to be much more in line with how I think.

  • The comments on that brilliant look at hot chicken 🙁

    White people are constantly rabid for any chance to come in and declare POC “racist” against whites. My God, they JUMP at it.

  • spacegal2003

    I really enjoyed The Martian. Usually I dislike space movies (fictional ones, at least – I really enjoyed Apollo 13) because they are so unrealistic. While everyone raved about Gravity, and the cinematography is great, I spent half the movie thinking “That’s NOT how that works!” Aside from the one improbable climax, the rest of it seemed actually grounded in science.

  • K. Baker

    Hey Sam, this is kind of off topic, but do you know of any good resources/books/articles for christians who don’t believe that life begins at conception?

  • Jackalope

    This seemed like the best place to post this petition by American Evangelicals concerning Trump:

    Evangelicals are coming around slowly, but they are coming around to the menace Trump represents. I hope this spreads and spreads. (And many of the comments made me happy too.)

  • Ysolde

    I binged Luke Cage while I was dealing with Hospice Arrangements for my father. He will receive care until the end of his life and I will probably never see him alive again. I’ll just get a call and that will be it.