Thursday, December 03, 2009

andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part IV

please see "andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part I" for a full introduction to my defense of the road, including a chat with evil person on facebook #1, wherein i conclusively demonstrate that the road's lack of quotation marks is perhaps a good thing. and see part I for a chat with evil person on facebook #2, wherein i conclusively demonstrate that the horror of the road is not something to avoid on the basis of fear or morality, and part III, wherein i conclusively demonstrate to evil person facebook #3 that to whatever degree the road is repetitive, that is actually a good thing.


abbreviated introduction: when a friend posted a facebook comment that challenged the magnificence of cormac mccarthy's the road--which is now playing in a movie theater near you!--i couldn't help but respond. the following defense is adapted from that conversation. where necessary, i have taken the liberty of modifying the arguments of those who would dare question the road into straw-men caricatures of their former selves so that they are more easily vanquished.

evil person on facebook #3: [enters room with his arms outstretched, shouting to all who will listen] my children, my children. i tell you the truth, dark tomes have rained down on us in these last days, black books sent down by oprah herself, books that tell of a coming doom, books that preach a relentless gospel of death, destruction, apocalypse. guard your hearts, steal your souls, arm your children--there is no redemption here; there is no light, no sign of hope. nothing but ash, ash, ash. oh, orphans of mother earth--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: hi, there.

evil person on facebook #3: oh, hi.

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: so, you have some kind of a problem with the road?

evil person on facebook #3: right, like i was saying, a great darkness has settled on the pages of the earth, casting unnatural shadows, as from some ominous pit of doom, some demon lair, some hopeless cavern of death and ash--ash everywhere--and in those three letters there is no redemption, no hope; there is--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: OK, stop, stop. i get that the road is dark, but don't you think there's at least a glimmer of hope there? something besides depressing darkness?

evil person on facebook #3: if by hope, you're referring to the final scene of the book. don't even get me started on how that one scene in no way redeems the horror of the entire work. this book, this road, is the cackling buzzard-breath of the apocalypse, it's the four horsemen and their--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: oh, please don't. i won't try to convince you that the last little bit redeems the whole--i don't think there's a happy hollywood ending tacked on to the end--but i might be foolish enough to contend that the entire ash-strewn monstrosity is in some ways redeeming. i might be crazy enough to suggest that it walks a road that's both tragedy and comedy, darkness and light, and that when we drag ourselves to the end, we find something that both redeems and leaves us cold and alone.

evil person on facebook #3: that makes two of us crazies then.

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: i really think that the relationship between the man and the son--which, incidentally, seems like one of the more moving father-son relationships i've ever read--and the son and the earth, offers redemption. perhaps the goodness and light that the boy brings is bounded by time and evil, perhaps whatever good he accomplishes, however long he survives, is a pittance in a larger story of doom. perhaps the fire he carries is ultimately revealed as absurd, but as the book's title suggests, i think the story we see is properly confined to what we read in the text, not some heated guesswork of how the road views humanity's overall death or suvival. and this story is the incarnation--into great darkness is born a child of innocence and light, a child that inexplicably gives of himself in a culture that's way beyond fending for oneself.

andrew, the 17 point scale blogger: [jumping into the conversation with a quick whispered plug] yes, you said the very same thing a few years ago in a book blurb for image update and right here on this blog!

evil person on facebook #3: i don't know what you've done, but--wow!--i'm starting to feel all warm and fuzzy about the road.

Monday, November 30, 2009

andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part III

please see "andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part I" for a full introduction to my defense of the road, including a chat with evil person on facebook #1, wherein i conclusively demonstrate that the road's lack of quotation marks is perhaps a good thing. and see part II for a chat with evil person on facebook #2, wherein i conclusively demonstrate that the horror of the road is not something to avoid on the basis of fear or morality.


abbreviated introduction: when a friend posted a facebook comment that challenged the magnificence of cormac mccarthy's the road--which is now playing in a movie theater near you!--i couldn't help but respond. the following defense is adapted from that conversation. where necessary, i have taken the liberty of modifying the arguments of those who would dare question the road into straw-men caricatures of their former selves so that they are more easily vanquished.

evil person on facebook #3: [watches as evil person on facebook #2 stares up into a non-existent sky, says a few words, and leaves the room; then, a moment later, continues watching as person on facebook #2 walks into the room, looks up in a peaceful, hippie-kind of way, speaks, and then walks out; and then he turns to andrew, about to speak, when person on facebook #2 again enters the room, looks up, offers a words to the room, and exits] it's monotonous. it's as if the plot and dialogue keeps repeating itself

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: i think she's stuck in some kind of an online time loop. let me see if i can adjust the RSS feed settings--

evil person on facebook #3: no, not her. the road! there's all this ash, and then they can't find food, so the man says to the boy, "OK?" and he replies, "OK." and then there's more ash, and then they still can't find, so again the man says to the boy, "OK?" and he replies, "OK."

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: well, that seems like a gross oversimplification of the plot. they also have all kinds of encounters with ***OMITTED FOR IMPROPER SPOILER USE*** and ***OMITTED FOR IMPROPER SPOILER USE***. they experience emotional highs and lows; they see all kinds of sites. to say that nothing happens in the road seems altogether false. a mountain of more interesting stuff happens to the man and boy then happens to me in any given year. and, what's more, all those empty, forgotten spaces they explore--each and every one holds a mystery. what happened to these people? did they survive? are our brave heroes about to bump into them on the next page?

evil person on facebook #3: OK, but you get my meaning. there's the same feel to the scenes. it seems like he could have just written one chapter and then wrote something that said, "now read this chapter ten more times."

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: i guess i can't fire any objective responses back at your criticism of the road's pacing. i can only say that the very thing that bothered you is what makes me celebrate mccarthy. the plot of the road (and the border trilogy and perhaps blood meridian, and even the orchard keeper if the first few pages are any indication) is that a few guys walk down a road (or perhaps they ride horses) and violent (or occasionally generous) stuff happens to them, sometimes the same stuff over and over again. it's life. that's what it would be like to haunt a postapocalypse like the one mccarthy has created. and the way the characters speak? that's what it's really like sometimes in my life, so i can only imagine that when things get serious, like in the road, it seems more than likely that all kinds of verbal communication would be stripped away.

[evil person on facebook #2 enters the room and then leaves for good]

and to me, mccarthy makes this interesting and real in a way that i almost don't want anything else to happen. he seems a master of the quiet and the storm. and in the road, there's just so much tension in the environment that to me it didn't matter if nothing or the same thing happened, because mccarthy created a world where i was always thinking of what could happen next.

Friday, November 27, 2009

andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part II

please see "andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part I" for a full introduction to my defense of the road, including a chat with evil person on facebook #1, wherein i conclusively demonstrate that the road's lack of quotation marks is perhaps a good thing.


abbreviated introduction: when a friend posted a facebook comment that challenged the magnificence of cormac mccarthy's the road--which is being released this week to a theater near you!--i couldn't help but respond. the following defense is adapted from that conversation. where necessary, i have taken the liberty of modifying the arguments of those who would dare question the road into straw-men caricatures of their former selves so that they are more easily vanquished.

person on facebook #2: [holding back a sob as she watches evil person on facebook #1 happily prance out of the room with a copy of the road held tightly to her chest] oh, my. i just can't--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: [handing person on facebook #2 a tissue] what's wrong?

person on facebook #2: [wiping a tear] it's this book. the prose is beautiful, but it's so gruesome. i can't get the images out of my head. i can't sleep--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: [with an understanding nod] the road is something of a nightmare. i think you have a valid subjective objection.

[someone in the room snickers at this faux-academic, robotic sounding attempt at empathy]

person on facebook #2: [turns evil]

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: errr...person on facebook #2? are you OK?

evil person on facebook #2: [laughs maniacally] so i get something like a free pass, then? i may universally dismiss the road and all other literature that disturbs? after all, the beauty of the road would be so much greater if it weren't spoiled by the violence and cruelty and b-l-o-o-o-o-d--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: [backing away ever so slightly] well, given that the road is causing you emotional stress and prohibiting you from sleeping at night, then, yes, you might want to stay away. but i don't think it's a good habit to universally avoid things that disturb, that make us consider the darker side of ourselves. many people read books to get away from reality, to escape. that's perhaps why the sale of romances and sci-fi books is recession proof whereas literary fiction is gasping for a profit. but i don't think this is necessarily healthy. in fact, i think that good art, books like the road, depict violence and horror. they may be profane. they may be explicit. they challenge us, make us think, force us to question ourselves and how we perceive our neighbors, even scare us. and the fact, that mccarthy's images stay with you is simply a testament to his talent as a writer. the road should stay with you...

[the smoke from some psychadelic pipe begins to fill the room, obscuring the walls and features of the room. the floor slips away, and it is as if the self-appointed defender of the road and the evil person on facebook #2 are floating in space, surrounded only by rising, ever-widening rings of remembrance]

evil person on facebook #2: gnarly!

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: for weeks, months, i suppose years, after i first read the road i couldn't stop thinking about where i fit into this shadowy humanity. i'd be in church--

[out of nowhere, a church appears in the distance, floating statically above them, its cross pulsating with bright green light]

--and pastor richard's sermon would trigger some thought of the road. or i'd be scoping out the nasty lunch options at work--

[the cross blinks once more, and then is gone, replaced by filipinos in hairnets and a line of vietnam vets, shifting from foot to foot as they wait for the caregiver's special, a mysterious meat dish, at the VA cafeteria]

--and remember how the man and the boy would celebrate over a rotten apple, a can of soup. this, the way mccarthy's images are seared into your mind, is what i love about the road.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part I

in my last 17 point scale post, i described the evolution of andrew the counterintuitive apologetic. i portrayed myself as a noble knight of truth, dashing about the interweb correcting false impressions, even when the matter at hand was of no relevance to or even contrary to my own beliefs. i examined how these magnanimous traits led me (though perhaps circuitously) to publish a book that looks at atheism from a completely new perspective, that of the christian who seeks to dialogue with atheism rather than destroy atheism, the christian who seeks to learn rather than obliterate.

you should buy that book, "god is dead" and i don't feel so good myself
, and while you're at it, this one too--jesus girls: true tales of growing up female and evangelical! but now i'd like to introduce a bit of realism to that perspective.

i really do see myself as someone who questions positions from all sides of the fence, who in trying to stay objective, often finds himself at odds with people on every side. but that doesn't mean i'm coming from position nowhere, that i only fight for issues where i function as a blank slate. no, i'm also quite happy to play the apologetic for those things that i love.

and so, when a friend posted a facebook comment that challenged the magnificence of cormac mccarthy's
the road--which is being released this week to a theater near you!--i couldn't help but respond. the following defense is adapted from that conversation. where necessary, i have taken the liberty of modifying the arguments of those who would dare question the road into straw-men caricatures of their former selves so that they are more easily vanquished.

evil person on facebook #1: [storms into the room brandishing strunk's elements of style like a sword] how can i read this drivel? [stabbing at an imaginary copy of our beloved pulitzer-prize winner] there's no punctuation. there are no semicolons, hardly ever a colon, and no quotation marks in sight. how am i supposed to know who's talking?

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: [nodding judiciously] yes, i can understand your frustration. mccarthy's punctuation style can be off-putting. and at first it may take a bit of work to negotiate who says what or even who says what when. but perhaps that extra dose of concentration is actually a good thing.

backing away from the sharp edges of strunk and white] i'm actually rather curious if, back when mccarthy was poor, his editor, albert erskine, ever pointed this out to him, ever said, "you know, cormac, there's these things called quotation marks, and if you use them, more readers might buy your book."

but i doubt it--it's really not that unique. lots of literary writers dispense with quotation marks and the like. last month, for example, i read
all the living by c. e. morgan, a young writer on the national book foundation's shortlist for important upcoming authors, and she framed her dialogue in exactly the same way.

cormac mccarthy: [sitting in the corner, legs crossed, speaking to oprah via wikipedia about how, "I] prefer declarative sentences.

evil person on facebook #1: wait, who's that? where did he come from?

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: oh, don't worry, that's cormac. he usually doesn't like speaking to us literary types, but hold on, i think he's saying something about how he shuns quotation marks and the like because he sees no reason to--

cormac mccarthy: --block the page up with weird little marks.

cormac fades back into the internet]

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: [turning back to the bewildered evil thinker] it may seem strange to sacrifice some measure of readability for the sake of aesthetics, but i really think there's something to cormac's claim. limiting punctuation really does in some minute sense put our focus back on the words, on what's really beings said. perhaps there's something more authentic about it, just like when, in the border trilogy, mccarthy slips into spanish. i can't read more than three words of spanish, and so i might miss out on some sense of what's really happening, but it's more real.

andrew, the 17 point scale blogger: [jumping into the conversation with a quick whispered plug] junot diaz, who we reviewed earlier this month on the blog, does the exact same thing with spanish in his pulitzer-prize winning first novel, the brief wondrous life of oscar wao.

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: thanks, andrew. [now speaking in his best historian voice] and at least in our current age, i think most writers and editors, the elites who in some way or another, at least until the digital age changes publishing as we know it, decide what we experience as writing, agree. we've entered a period--not a quotation mark!--of what's known as down-style, a time where nearly every style guide encourages the limited use of commas, a time where hilarious websites like make fun of the over and incorrect use of scare quotes. and so i guess all i can say is that if you want to read literary writing--i.e., good writing--you'd best get used to it.

stay tuned for parts II, III, and IV.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

if i were discussing this book: "god is dead" and i don't feel so good myself

in my transition from the college to post-college life, i responded to the decreasing frequency of late night musings and existential inquiry by instead spilling my thoughts online. strangely enough, the e-place that i most frequently turned to for ravenous debate was, a website where moderators and well-meaning amateurs helped ESL speakers tackle this great monster we call english. and so when i got bored answering grammar riddles, i wandered into the controversial subjects forum.

yet rather than argue for my own causes, i ran to the side of perspectives that seemed, to me, falsely maligned. perhaps because of the vitriolic, one-sided tenor of argument that is a universal fact of the internet, or perhaps because of some innate character flaw, or perhaps because of the empathy-inducing influence of fiction and the gospel, whatever the cause, in between offering advice on commas and prepositions, i ignored my own quest to prove that mormonism wasn't a subset of christianity, for example, to prove that catholicism was (clarification: i'm not catholic).

this tendency for counterintuitive apologetics has, i think, found its way into my real-life character as well. at many a cousin-camping trip, i've stood at the fire, defending catholic theology to my fellow protestants. i campaign for liberal causes among my conservative friends, and conservative causes among my liberal friends.

and now, with the help of my fellow editors, chris keller and jon stanley, i've taken the ultimate crazy step: i've published a book that uses analytic essays, social commentary, poetry, interviews, and art to ask what we christians can learn from atheists. that is, how can christian theology approach atheism, that very concept that seems opposite and anathematic to christianity?"

my intentions are a bit different here--i don't intend to argue that atheists have been misunderstood--but they are related. as we suggest in our introduction, the cultural conversation surrounding new atheism and christianity has become a great swelling of voices, so loud and so self-righteous, that there's no space for quiet, compassionate consideration.

in any case, i encourage you to check out our book,
"god is dead" and i don't feel so good myself: theological engagements with the new atheism, and see what you think.


this is clearly a 17/17 read! OK, OK, you probably shouldn't trust me. i'm a bit biased by the fifty cent royalty for every thousand or so copies sold. look at the website below to see what brian mclaren says about this "brilliant book," or how james k. a. smith refers to it as a "stunning collection" and an "intellectual feast."

you can purchase and read about
god is dead here (where it's cheaper than at amazon!).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

if i were discussing this book: the brief wondrous life of oscar wao

i'm hesitant to mark my return to the 17 point scale flash-book reviews (pretend that's an n-dash) by examining junot diaz's the brief wondrous life of oscar wao--the book jacket includes quotes from famous publications that pretty much nail my every thought on the book. it's "extraordinarily vibrant" (NYT), "hauntingly horrific" (SFC), "deliciously casual" (TBG), and "achingly personal" (LAT). and even beyond the ubiquity of glowing adverb + adjective constructions for oscar, if you pick out nearly any oscar blurb, i think you'll find me nodding along, "yes, yes. he's right. it is a brilliant multigenerational, globally enacted tragicomedy of sex and nerdom, an epic bildungsroman with voice and pizazz!" (T17PS).

but then i remember the point of this series: i'm not attempting reviews. i'm not even attempting to discuss books in any meaningful way. i merely want to give a sense of what i think of books and what i might say if i were forced to pen a thoughtful essay on said books. it's really quite liberating.

which brings me back to my rather common response to

a responsible thinker might question whether books like oscar perpetuate latin american stereotypes in the U.S. psyche (my friend dalia, an IU grad student, reminded me of this, which reminded me of this article about roberto bolano in the guardian). or perhaps he might study the sexual ethics and norms in oscar and then contrast those behaviors with the mind-splitting oppression of the dominican republic under trujillo and his "nazgul" minions; that'd be my second choice.

but my essay would focus on that one trait that seems to have made
oscar a universal sensation, the winner of the pulitzer prize for fiction, the national book critics circle award for fiction, time's #1 fiction book, et cetera: voice.

i'd attempt to locate the book in the context of other works throughout the centuries that have successfully combined a literary style (i.e., poetic language, thoughtful plot, full characters) with a not-so literary (and funny!) idiom. that is, diaz combines a sense of the literary--take this, for a random example, "It went up in a flash, like gasoline, like a stupid hope, and if I hadn’t thrown it [the burning wig] in the sink it would have taken my hand. … That was when she slapped at me, when I struck her hand and she snatched it back, like I was the fire"--with hilarious shout outs to contemporary vernacular. in
oscar we read about the One Ring, about Galactus and the Watchmen. we learn of the protagonist's desire to "combine world-class martial artistry with deadly firearms proficiency" and his sister, who unleashed one of the great Street Fighter chain attacks of all time (OK, as essay on violence could work, too).

and so i wonder what other books of fiction might fit in this canon of works that dare to combine the high and low (?) art to humorous and strangely profound effect.


i'm leaning toward a 13/17 rating, which makes oscar a 17 point scale recommended title, unless you prefer to avoid titles with copious amounts of violence, profanity, and sex. after all, if you condense this story to the simplicity of its most central device, it really is nothing more than the story of its protagonist's quest to lose his virginity.

you can purchase oscar here.

i'm also tweeting cool passages from the book at #oscarwao.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

banned books week!

Support the First Amendment, Read a Banned Book
according to presidential proclamation, next month we can celebrate National School Lunch Week and National Forest Products Week. i really can't restrain myself; the excitement is just too much.

but perhaps more relevantly to my passions and career aspirations, apparently we're right smack-dab in the middle of Banned Books Week, a time when Amnesty International, the American Library Association, and the publishing world seek to remind us of the power language and literature, even--perhaps especially--books we may perceive as dangerous, to awaken us and transform us for the better.

check out the First Amendment First Aid Kit at Random House
here, which includes suggestions for dialoging about free speech and a list of "banned" books. in the United States, these books aren't banned in a technical sense--you can still purchase them on Amazon or find them in many libraries--but they are banned in a regional sense; there are some libraries where these books are intentionally not stocked, where librarians lose their jobs over the decision to fight for shelf-space. and here are some examples of banned books: house of spirits (isabel allende), fahrenheit 451 (ray bradbury), da vinci code (dan brown), the things they carried (tim o'brien), a prayer for owen meany (john irving)...

PS per anna alter at, Random House will send a free banned or challenged book (while supplies last) to anyone who posts the graphic or blogs about Banned Books Week. tell them about it at

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

if i were discussing this book: jesus girls

a friend recently emailed me to inquire about my personal thoughts regarding jesus girls (buy the book here!), a book that my friends at cascade books recently published and a book that i helped edit and have been actively marketing on facebook.

i had the sense that she wanted something more than the back-of-the-book blurb (which is actually quite good and rather apropos to the book) or the glowing publisher's weekly review, and so i attempted to avoid pure promotional speak. i don't know that i succeeded, but here's what i said:

Personally, this is the coolest project I've ever worked on. To some extent, editing psychiatric genetic research is rewarding, because some of the things I work on may help lead to a cure or otherwise improve people's lives. That's pretty cool, but the writing itself is dry and makes no attempt to create meaning for readers. My work at THE OTHER JOURNAL is much more interesting--I get to edit theology essays, social justice articles, and poems; I get to work on writing that speaks truth to people's lives.

But JESUS GIRLS moves beyond those mediums (well, perhaps not poetry, but that's another story). JG is a collection of what you might call creative nonfiction or personal essays. Like good fiction, these essays creatively propel readers to an unconscious empathy, to see the world from someone else's shoes, and perhaps to reconsider our own lives. I've wanted to work with creative nonfiction (and novels) for a long time, so helping Hannah (the book's primary editor) edit these essays has been a very fulfilling experience.

Now, more particularly, as its title suggests, JG is a collection of reflections about growing up evangelical. What's unique about JG--and I can imagine this turning some readers off--is that it's not your typical account of growing up evangelical. That is, if you go to a Christian bookstore, you'll probably find books that closely follow the lost-and-then-found formula of conversion; if you go to a secular bookstore, you'll probably find books that blame their evangelical childhood for all of their problems as an adult. Instead, JG gathers essays from women who are still evangelical, women who now belong to other Christian denominations, and women who no longer consider themselves Christians. And so JG aims to be authentic and honest about Christian culture, about the struggles, rewards of faith, and about real-life experiences in the church.

You asked what I think about the book, and I'm guessing that you're curious about more than my biased opinion that the essays are very powerful and well-written--as an evangelical, I think it's important that we read and write this kind of literature, that we avoid sugarcoating the truth or parading a testimony that isn't really our own, that we ask the important questions JG suggests. I think it's important that we acknowledge that our church is both broken and beautiful, and that we take the liberty to honestly consider these things. JG does these things, and this may strike some as Christianity-negative, but I definitely don't see it that way.

I'm excited that you might buy the book, and I'd love to hear what you think of it.


to learn more about jesus girls, come to our launch party this thursday! MHGS, 2501 Elliot Ave, Seattle, WA, from 7PM to 10PM--free food, drinks, and readings (including sara zarr and hannah notess!).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

an unused introduction to the other journal’s issue on race

Let us,

two shy women—one black, one white—

keep walking up University Avenue together

with our brave faces and uncertain prospects

into a future still gathering its forces.

—from Carolyne Wright, “Miss Brown to You,” The Other Journal #16

humanity perpetually stands on the edge of some revolution, collective disaster, or personal moment of intense success or failure. real or imagined, god-breathed or man-made, our hopes and fears are always right around the next corner. and it is into that murky marshalling of unknown forces and “uncertain prospects” that we daily catch our breath, look both ways, and walk once more into the busy streets.

in this issue of the other journal, we confront matters of race by studying the oncoming traffic, the pedestrians around us, and even ourselves. with brian bantum and willie jennings, we take note of those people who “exist between the cracks” and seek understanding of what they call the “mulatto existence.” and with carolyne wright and cornell west, we seek the courage “to cut against the grain,” to renounce normalized systems of injustice, and to thoughtfully consider our own place in these complex racial questions. we look outward and inward, and by examining our past and present, we hope to see christ moving us and drawing us ever nearer to a truly interracial future.

see an explanation for this unused intro here and check out our issue at!

Monday, August 24, 2009


when you manage a quarterly journal, there are certain things you must do. here’s the business of acquiring and editing pieces, the glamor of email and conference calls, and the madness of deadlines and missing persons. there’s also the matter of finding funding so you can pay your writers and staff and generally stay afloat, if you’re into that kind of thing.

and then there’s the issue introduction, the editor’s preface, or the editorial statement—call it what you will, but someone must write something that sets the tone for the issue.

it must be catchy and yet reflective. it must make readers swoon, stir their tea with intrigue and delight, keep reading. and it must be left to the very last moment.

at some publications with which i’m familiar, this means an essayist of considerable means will sequester himself in a hotel room, order room service and some smokes, and then emerge last-minute with perfect, shining prose.

i assume that, give or take the hotel food, this is pretty standard practice among literary quarterlies. but at the other journal, we strive to ever greater lengths of editorial chaos. we have no go-to-girl, no pre-appointed all-star ready to tap the keys in the last hour. in past issues, our introductions have been written by our editor-in-chief, our managing editor (me), and even a team effort crafted by our entire staff.

and as usual, in the last hours before the launch of our latest issue, a great question mark hovered over the world. would we have an introduction? who would write it? what would it say?

it turned out that, no, we would we not have an introduction—we would instead have two introductions, and they would say very different things.

you can find the one introduction to save all introductions here. It was selected because it better addresses our vision of what we hope to say in this issue, because it clearly frames a touchy topic, race, in the context of theology and life in america.

in contrast, the unused version, my version, is patched together from some flailing metaphors that hope to disguise my cluelessness concerning race and how it pertains to these questions of life and theology.

still, there must be a place for andrew's racey rubble. oh, right, this blog

photo: andrew david. "the fog and introduction." logan pass, glacier national park.

Friday, August 21, 2009

and i also went to santa fe this summer...

so i might as well share my photos from the glen workshop:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

photos from the oc

beth said that i should post these, too:

Monday, August 17, 2009

whitney and pedro!

whitney and pedro are married!

here are the photos i took while in stockton for their wedding:

Friday, May 08, 2009


several facts about the history and present life of dishes in greenwood, washington:

1. there is one dish on my roommate's side of the sink; the dish is dirty. it may also be lonely--until a few days ago, there were dozens of dirty dishes to keep it company there.

2. fourish dishes are scattered on my side of the sink; they've been rinsed but probably do not fit your definition of clean. unlike the dirty dish on the eastern bank of the sink, these westerners generally prefer smaller groups of, say, zero to eleven.

3. a dozen or so dirty glasses are hanging out on the counter. until about twenty minutes ago, they were my roommate's responsibility, but we just swapped dishes for donations, so they're my responsibility now. that's right, dishes for donations. he's giving to
the other journal!

4. you can donate too, and i don't even have to do your dishes! visit, click "HERE," go through a quick registration process (sorry, that didn't use to be there--because you'll be giving so frequently, they want to provide you with silly online tools to help you manage all that well spent money), designate the donation as for
the other journal, and make the donation.

in other news, i plan to eat nachos tonight.

photo: andrew david. "bradys dirty dishes." robbins apartment, seattle, wa. according to the image properties, i took this photo at 9:38 PM on january 25, 2001, in commemoration of yet another roommate.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

if i were reviewing this film: easter promises

this was meant to be the first in a three part series devoted to films featuring wicked knives scenes, but now it's not.

eastern promises is a deceptively simple film that reveals itself to be more of a character study than the mystery that one might expect from the trailer. it is also a film that shows no mercy on its viewers. if you like brutality, bloodshed, and naked knife fights, this is the film for you. given the plot--the story of a russian crime syndicate doesn't mind killing people--eastern promises should be harsh; the characters and their crimes should make us uncomfortable, but i really do think that to some degree david cronenberg, the film's director, just likes to make audiences squirm. i've also heard that there might be an eastern promises II soon, so beware.

rating: 13 out of 17

Friday, April 24, 2009

find john wilkes booth! donate to TOJ!

one thing i hate about traveling cheap is the luggage. it seems that at some point during almost all of my trips i find myself saddled with a bulky bags, trying to maneuver my way through tight spaces, twist myself into comfortable positions, or just fit in.

this bothersome aftermath of travel penury was the chief narrative device of the travel essay i posted here a few years back, so i'll spare you another essay on the subject. however, when beth and i visited indiana university at bloomington this spring, we found ourselves in that familiar big-bag position. and so, rather than visiting the famous lilly library together, we went in shifts--i ran off in the direction of the library while beth drank her coffee and watched our bags (and almost vice versa).

unfortunately, this meant that (1) we had half as much time to view the exhibits as we would have under normal circumstances--by the time beth signed the necessary security forms, entered an air-lock or three, and gazed at a page of scribblings by thoreau (?), it was time to go--and (2) i was without my tour guide (i.e., beth), so i really didn't know what i was supposed to be looking at.

thus, like most touristy folk at indiana u who wander into the lilly, i was clueless to the wonderful treasures in the vaults below. so i ran through an exhibit on lincoln. and it may have been interesting, but i was in skim-mode--perhaps the displays were bringing back unwelcome memories of my college paper on the fellow.

still, i did like this wanted poster. it seems almost like a fiction, that there was a day and age when wanted posters were the stuff of reality, not spaghetti westerns and disney theme parks, that the government really depended upon the people to mete out justice. and look at all that small type. i daresay that if presidents were assassinated in our modern era, no one would take the time to read that print. this poster cries out for a good graphic designer.

so what meaning can a poster like this convey to us today? how might its text serve us here and now?

i believe that if you look closely, you might see a simple message embedded in that poster. you might see a message from the abolitionists, the government, and all people of justice, a message just for you.

and it is this:

until june '09, when you donate to the other journal, your donation of $25,000 plus your employer's matching contribution of $25,000 will be matched by an anonymous mars hill graduate school donor for a total donation of $100,000!* perhaps your employer isn't into philanthropy; in that case, your donation of $25,000 will be matched by an anonymous mars hill graduate school donor for a total donation of $50,000!** or perhaps you'd prefer to scrape a few zeroes off that figure--fine! the donor will match any contribution, large or small!*** it's a lot easier than catching a murderer, especially a man whose been dead for over one hundred years. so click the link! donate now!

and when you donate, be sure to select "the other journal" in the designation field: or

photo: andrew david. "catch booth! give money!" lilly library, indiana university, bloomington, indiana.

*the donor will only match $25,000 in total donations, so if you really donate 25k, the donor won't match your employer's contribution.

** the donor will only match $25,000 in total donations, so if other donors have already given to mars hill, the matching donor, will only match your donor up to the mark of $25,000.

*** the donor will only match $25,000 in total donations, so if you donate $25,001, the maximum he will match is $25,000.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

beauty and aethetics

wednesday will be the debut of the other journal's issue on aesthetics. i preferred to name the issue "Beauty," but i was editorally outranked. still, in some sense i had the last word--

during the last fifty minutes of work today, i was comissioned to write the introduction for the issue. and so i escaped the cramped quarters of our subway-sandwich-smelling office (take that however you wish), squatted in a sun-soaked room overlooking elliot bay (take that squat in the pioneer sense, not the awkward physical exertion sense), and composed a few paragraphs that used Augustine (seen here blasting away at an unarmed man in yellow pants) as a lens for alluding to the various pieces we'll be publishing this issue. i don't know that the paragraphs are worthy of much attention (they are, after all, very short), but i'm happy to report that i got away with avoiding even a single mention of the word aesthetics.

as for the issue itself, we'll begin by publishing several interesting meditations on art, some nature-centric pieces, and of course, some poetry. however, i am especially excited to publish a chapter from jesus girls by jessie van eerden and interviews with greg wolfe and scott cairns.

read my introduction here:

stay tuned to the latest content from the aesthetics issue here:

photo: andrew david. "isn't it beautiful how the monk is handy with a shotgun?" the art institute of chicago, chicago, il (4/09). i'm not certain of the name of the painting or painter, but it was in a series of six or so that illustrated a sequence of the yellow-pant fellow attempting rob the monastery and being outwitted/shot by this monk man. according to the placard at the museum, the paintings were based on a real historical event, but the non-nonviolent priest was not augustine.