Category Archives: religion

The 2017 Evan Yeong Literary Awards

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.

2017

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 A handful were also unpublished manuscripts or ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and have been marked as such.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.


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ALMOST AS COMPLEX AS THEIR NAMESAKE

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
Published 2013

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.

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SHOULD HAVE WON THE 2017 GILLER PRIZE

Brother by David Chariandy
Published 2017

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

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Buddhism Is ****ed Up Too

This was the image I stumbled across as I was pondering what to write about today:

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Click image above for the actual imgur post.

“The world is not only for Muslims.”

That was the focus of the person who posted this image, but I found his Islamophobic sentiment to be a whole lot less interesting than the way he chose to show it.

There’s any number of pictures out there that could convey the same sentiment, but he zeroed in on the one with men in saffron robes. Why?

“When even Buddhists don’t like you – you know you’ve ****ed up.”

Because they’re Buddhists, right?

Everyone knows Buddhists.

They’re the nice people with the shaved heads and bare feet. The ones with that perpetual look of serenity and profound wisdom. The ones who practically ooze peace and goodwill out of their chakras.

It’s the thing that Jack Kerouac and all the beatniks fell in love with. The thing that melded so beautifully with the hippies in the 60s. Love, altruism, placidity – that’s what Buddhism is, right?

Or maybe it isn’t. Continue reading

How To Not Ruin The Silver Chair

I get why it’s so tough to fully adapt the whole Chronicles of Narnia into films.

Sure you can make headway capturing the magic and wonder of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. It’s a well-known story with mass appeal and everybody loves Mr. Tumnus.

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Yet when I stand in the woods holding my package, people get all uptight about it. [Source.]

And while it’s nowhere near as popular, Prince Caspian makes for a good, old-fashioned swashbuckling romp.

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My name is Inigo Montoya!

Do it right and you might have the momentum to try The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

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I’M ON A BOAT (the movie)

And that usually kills it.

Not that folks haven’t made valiant efforts. It’s just that Dawn Treader is a much slower story – more of a “travelogue” than an adventure on the high seas. The battles, beasts, and betrayals that mark the other two are noticeably absent here, as are two of the original four Pevensie children, and much of the steam built up by the previous two installments.

And that’s a damn shame. Continue reading

Polygraphs and Monotheism: More Complex Than Expected

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

We’re All In Danger: An Open Letter to Minority Republicans

These are the facts:

Last Wednesday, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani – two Indian-born engineers living and working in the US – stepped into Austin’s Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas. As they had done so many times before, they ordered drinks and unwound after a long day of work. On this particular evening however, Kuchibhotla and Madasani were approached by another patron, Adam Purinton, who began to shout racial slurs at the two men and demanded to know “Which country are you from? Are you here illegally?”, before shouting “Get out of my country!

Purinton was thrown out of the bar, only to return with a gun, opening fire on Kuchibhotla and Madasani. Kuchibhotla was killed and Madasani was injured, along with twenty-four year old patron Ian Grillot, who attempted to subdue Purinton. Purinton fled on foot, and was next seen five hours later at an Applebees across the state line. Purinton claimed openly to having killed “two Middle-Eastern men.” Purinton was promptly arrested and extradited from Missouri back to Kansas, where he has been charged with first-degree murder, bail set at two-million dollars.

Once again, these are the facts.

What follows is the tricky part.

How do I write about this – any of this – without devolving into incoherent rage? After all these tragedies over all these years, have we gotten any closer to make sense of the senseless?

Perhaps I could write about how Indians and Sikhs have repeatedly been the targets of hatred intended for Arabs and Muslims. How ever since 9/11, an entire group of people who have done nothing – nothing – to harm the US have been harassed, belittled, and even murdered.

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And the 2012 massacre in Oak Creek, WI is just one of many examples

Continue reading

2016’s Cultural Battleground – Gordon’s Account

EDITOR’S NOTE: We end each year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in.  Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2016 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.


I know it’s been said all over, but man…

**** this year.

I’m going to just go ahead and embrace the roiling darkness and present, for your consideration, my own chronicle of our downward spiral. Not counting the French war on religious freedom, American attacks on the 2nd Amendment, Don Lemon’s career, and a host of other blemishes we don’t have room for.

Did I mention **** this year?

Anyways, here’re the major casualties from this year’s culture wars:

thepresidentnotmypresident While I don’t think this was my finest writing by any means, I do think it’s one of the more important posts I wrote this year. And not just because I want my good name vindicated by future historians or alien archaeologists sifting through the ashy remains of the Western hemisphere.

In the face of a lot of folks trying to come to terms with the election of Donald Trump, I make the argument that they just don’t have to.

firstladyIn spite of my own frustration and anger at the results of the election, I nevertheless want to state for the record that voting-for-a-lesser-evil is not now, nor ever will be, the answer. In spite of what Mrs. Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders believe, democracy cannot be saved by us choosing not to practice it. Continue reading

The CWR Christmas Wish List

Readers,

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.

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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.

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“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