As laid out in the first-ever Evan Yeong Literary Awards, the purpose of these blog posts has been to provide a retrospective of the books read in the past year. Typically these have been written and published in January, but here we are. Better late than never, as I always say.
This is the first of these awards to be written during my relatively new career in publishing. While I wouldn’t say I have a strong understanding of the ins and outs of what’s hot in the industry, I certainly have a healthier grasp of things, especially compared to past years when I had none whatsoever.
The other notable difference is that the list of books read has been censored in part, due to a number of the books having been unsolicited manuscripts that I was asked to read during my time as an Editorial Intern at Penguin Random House Canada. A handful were also unpublished manuscripts or ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and have been marked as such. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link.
ALMOST AS COMPLEX AS THEIR NAMESAKE
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
Those who aren’t as familiar with the works of C.S. Lewis should know that “Aslan” is the name of the Judeo-Christian-God-stand-in of that author’s Narnia series. The lion is a complex figure, embodying a dichotomy of a being that is “isn’t safe” while also “good”. Aslan himself is a likewise complicated man, having been raised Muslim, converted to Christianity in his teens, then back to Islam, a faith he continues to practice, and did during the writing of this book. A fascinating fact for both believers and nonbelievers alike is his statement that whether or not he was the son of God, the Nazarene definitively performed miracles.
SHOULD HAVE WON THE 2017 GILLER PRIZE
Brother by David Chariandy
One of many short, powerful works of fiction that I read this year, Brother is as unpretentious and beautiful a novel as you’re likely to find, and a worthy contender for Canada’s loftiest and most coveted literary prize. Shining a spotlight on Scarborough in the 90s, an area that I have (recently) shamefully joked about only “technically being Toronto”, this book would have served as a reminder of the real life stories that are overlooked and underheard.
The actual winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize was Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square, which I read the ARC of. Brother was longlisted. Continue reading
Posted in art, Canada, Christianity, Comedy, food, Islam, literature, race, relationships, religion, review, science, sex, writing
Tagged An Ocean of Minutes, Anonymous, Beauty Queens, Blink, books, brother, David Chariandy, E. V. Cunningham, Evan Yeong Literary Awards, Horns, horror, Joe Hill, Joey Comeau, Joy Kogawa, Libba Bray, literature, Malagash, Michael Pollan, novel, Obasan, race, relevant, Reza Aslan, romance, satire, Ted Dekker, The Botany of Desire, The Case of the One-Penny Orange, The Incest Diary, Thea Lim, Zealot
I am a Christian.
That’s more or less exactly how I began a blog post way back in 2013, when I attempted to combat a very prevalent and largely Christian argument against gay marriage. While it’s rarely ever stated as explicitly I also like to think that this fact isn’t something I’ve obscured or tried to keep secret.
On that note, the topic of Christianity also isn’t anything new here at Culture War Reporters. While the majority of these posts have focused on art that willingly bears that descriptor, my co-writers have also delved a little deeper into that belief system and morality. While the former may seem more at home given what we typically cover, a review of our About page readily sums up why the latter is just as appropriate as anything else.
In it we touch on culture wars as a “a conflict between societies with different ideas, philosophies, beliefs, and behaviours,” as well as how we are both individually and collectively wrestling with them. It’s the concept of two vastly differing perspectives that solidified whether or not I should do a brief write-up on my recent experience with a polygraph test. Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, crime, language, morality, religion
Tagged Bible, Christian, Christianity, crime, Culture Wars, guilt, law, lie, lie detector test, perception, polygraph, reality, rules, sin, truth, wrongdoing
“The Case for Unisex Bathrooms.”
Faithful followers of this blog may recall that was a post we ran back in November of 2015, dealing with the push for equal bathroom access for transgendered folks. Yours truly made some pretty compelling arguments, and you’d expect the universe to comply with my effervescent fountain of wisdom, yet on February 22nd, the Trump administration announced it would repeal transgendered bathroom protections established by Obama.
So here we are again.
And that’s a little strange, because other than a couple incidents, I don’t recall a sudden wave of sexual assaults taking place after the Obama administration instituted its protections. Maybe it’s like how gay marriage was supposed to bring about the downfall of society, and it just takes a suuuuuuper long time to get started.
Or maybe it’s just a gut reaction to some of the more stupid elements out there. The folks who’d argue that the world should respect their choice to identify as a bottle of mayonnaise:
Given painfully unironic martyrs like that, it’s not completely baffling why some people would push back against any unusual gender identity. Continue reading
Posted in bizarreness, Christianity, fashion, gender, morality, news, politics, science
Tagged Bathroom, Daniel, Deuteronomy, FDR, gender, Gioacchino Conti, Hanne Gaby Odiele, intersex, Jamie Shupe, law, Obama, sex, sex change, sexuality, Transexual, Transgender, Trump, Tumblr, Unisex
We have entered at last into that special time of year. Halls are decked, trees are festooned, and yours truly is unleashing another one of his Grinch-y rants about how much I hate Christmas.
Or at least, I would be.
I’d like to try something a bit different this year. Maybe actually try to give all this holly-jolly bull**** a chance. So, in an attempt to get into the
grotesque Capitalist travesty that this is month of crass commercialism “holiday spirit”, I figured I’d put together a little list of some things we’d like to have.
I. A World Leader Who Isn’t A ****ing ***hole
Ever since Uruguayan president Jose Mujica stepped down in 2015 there’s been a stocky, ex-guerilla shaped hole in our hearts that we just can’t seem to fill.
Ideally one with such an absolute commitment to the poor that he or she serves as an example, forgoing the perks of their station, but honestly, we’ll take what we can get.
II. A George Carlin Grill
“You mean a George Foreman Grill?”
No, I mean a George Carlin Grill. As in I want to have George Carlin hanging around so he can apply some fiery, incandescent rage to the great, gooey mass that is human stupidity.
“You want to resurrect George Carlin? Isn’t that asking a bit much?”
Seeing as how this country’s managed to resurrect the ****ing Nazi movement, no, I don’t think it is. Continue reading
Posted in bizarreness, Christianity, Comedy, morality, religion, television
Tagged Bowe Bergdahl, Christmas, Clemency, Edward Snowden, George Carlin, HP Lovecraft, Jose Mujica, Lovecraft, mumia abu jamal, Obama, Pardon, Trump, ugly americans, Ugly Americans Season 3
Well readers, it’s happened again.
Another day, another senseless mass shooting resulting in scores of innocent people killed. And once more the people of this nation turn their weary eyes to each other and ask-
How? How could this happen again?
Across the internet, images are already popping up offering empty condolences, meaningless gestures, the tired, broken old echo of “thoughts and prayers.”
Accompanied by, of course, jabs at Muslims.
“Muslims” as it’s being said.
Not “that one psycho from Florida” (because where would you even start?)
Not “that one individual with serious mental instability” (like Dylan Roof, the Unabomber, the Columbine murderers, the Sandy Hook murderer, the Aurora Theater murderer, etc.)
No, Muslims. Continue reading
Posted in America, Christianity, crime, Islam, lgbt, morality, news, religion
Tagged Aurora, Columbine, Dylan Roof, Florida, Florida Man, gay, Gay Conversion Camp, Houghton College, Islam, Jadin Bell, Jamie Hubley, Kenneth Weishuhn, LA Gay Pride, Leelah Alcorn, Muslim, Omar Mateen, Sandy Hook, Scott Lively, Tyler Clementi, Uganda, Westboro Baptist Church
It seems like a lifetime ago that this blog’s editor and yours truly discussed the question “Why is Christian media so bad?”
Because it is.
Like there are dirty limericks carved into the side of gas station bathrooms with more artistic and spiritual merit, and for anyone who doubts me I’d challenge you to watch God’s Not Dead 2, which premiered on the first of this month.
As much as you might pray otherwise- no, this is not some elaborate April Fool’s trick. This wretched, pandering slog of garbage is absolutely real, the hellspawn of 2014’s disturbingly popular (and obliviously sacrilegious) God’s Not Dead.
Look, as much as I’d like to pour out seven bowls of wrath upon this nasty, ugly product of a nasty, ugly franchise, I’m not going to. There are people who’ve already done so with more eloquence than I could muster, and I legitimately think I’d have a stroke if I tried to convey my repulsive and rage to this unholy dreck. If you’ve got a shred of artistic judgment or basic morality, you can see what makes this movie bad.
So let me ask this instead:
What would a good Christian movie look like?
Here’re some of my ideas-
That Dark Battle
The God’s Not Dead franchise has a habit of using death and disease to hamfistedly make its points. Is the prideful atheist looking down her Ivy-League nose at these simple, humble Christians? Smite her with cancer! Haha! She’s not so high-and-mighty now that she’s facing a slow and painful death! Thanks, God!
Think that’s a bit cruel?
It’s OK! She converted and has been miraculously cured! Because no God-fearing person has ever died of cancer and no atheist has died of anything else!
I **** you not- that happens in the first God’s Not Dead.
Mr. David A.R. White- On behalf of everyone who’s ever lost a loved one to cancer, allow me to say a heartfelt “****. You.”
Posted in art, Christianity, film, media, religion, television, writing
Tagged angels, Bonhoeffer, Christianity, film, Game of Thrones, god's not dead, God's Not Dead 2, humor, James Bond, Kings, morality, movies, preachy, suffering, supernatural, Violence