Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Blog’s Not Dead

We’re more than a week into March, the month in which I planned on resuming normal blogging. Alas, such a course of action was not meant to be. My working schedule is slowly morphing into a different animal, and all my free time has been snatched away like a piece of food dropped next to a group of ravenous seagulls.

I wish I could pinpoint when I will be able to resume my weekly blogging, but that is currently impossible. Which leads to the following question: Is this blog dying? Is it already dead? Or is it only mostly dead?

Or, to borrow from another movie script, I’d like to say this blog is not extinct—just dormant. As in sleeping. And sleeping things wake up.

My hope is that this will be more of a cat nap than a coma. Whatever the case, I may be able to post from time to time in the weeks to come. And if the Lord allows, I plan to resume normal operating hours within the next two or three months, or thereabouts.

So please don’t give up on me. I have a sneaking suspicion that Miracle Max is finishing up his special pill as we speak. Or, to put it another way, the volcano might just be preparing to wake up and shower the world with its explosive power. (I mean that in a good way, not a violent way.)

No, this blog’s not dead. It still needs to have fun storming the castle. Of course, I’ll need to acquire a gate key first…

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fickle February

Due to various and sundry reasons (mostly involving a combination of scheduling, family expansion, and sicknesses), I won’t be able to update the blog regularly during the month of February—if I’m able to update it at all. Whatever the case, my plan is to get back to a regular posting schedule, or close to it, by the beginning of March. Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Five Myths About How Parenting Ruins Your Life

Last week, I (Shannon, Cap’s wife) wrote to my past self, the self from two years ago who wanted to have children but also really didn’t. Too many articles, Facebook posts, and moms with screaming kids at Target had convinced me that parenting would drastically disrupt the life I enjoyed so much. I hope that last week’s post was encouraging as I addressed the faulty logic that played into my fears. This week, I’d like to “myth-bust” a few negative ideas I had about parenting and, in doing so, show a few tangible ways that parenthood has actually made my life better.

Before I begin, I’d just like to say that I did not immediately “take to” parenting. When Elanor was born, I didn’t experience that magical heart-change so many ladies predicted I would have. In fact, I suffered from low-grade postpartum depression for three months after she arrived. I didn’t find newborn care to be intellectually stimulating or rewarding. And even though Elanor nursed, and I cried when she was done, I still think the concept of breastfeeding is weird. I am not an ooey-gooey mom, but I can still rationally tell you that my life has improved.

Myth 1: You lose your mind.

I did not lose my mind. In fact, a book called The Mommy Brain debunks this idea. Though we may joke about preggo brain (and I have had my moments), what’s actually going on is that our brains are rearranging themselves to work better at things moms need to be good at: multitasking, heightened senses (my mommy-sense is tingling!), stress reduction. God is merciful and creative to have designed such a process.

I myself still enjoy creative writing. I still love to teach—but not grade. And my reading, if anything, has expanded in scope: since I first got pregnant, I’ve been more interested in nonfiction (though I am currently devouring du Maurier’s Rebecca with gusto).

Myth 2: You lose your adult standard of living.

Kids do not have to take over your entire life. The main thing I’ve learned so far as a parent is that I set the standard for my own house. If your friend loves getting projects for her kids off Pinterest to keep them occupied every day, she does it because she wants to, not because someone is making her. If, on the other hand, your friend is me, then her toddler has learned to entertain herself. (In December, I wrapped all my Christmas presents while my baby happily played by herself for two hours, taking breaks to hug my legs and inspect fallen wrapping paper scraps.)

Do you not like the noise of children’s programming? Guess what? You don’t have to show your kid ANY TV. I don’t (because I hate how I end up watching the shows too. Curse you, Doc McStuffins!).

Do you hate the idea of your kids tearing around the house on a crazy sugar rush and then completely losing their rational abilities in the meltdown that inevitably follows? Guess what? No one will ever force you to give your kid sweet tea. It is totally up to you. My mother-in-law trained Cap and his brother to like seaweed (yes seaweed) so much that if they were in trouble, she would take it away. You set the standard.

Myth 3: They require so much sacrifice.

Well, this one isn’t exactly a myth. But the “sacrifices” don’t feel like sacrifices once you’re there. My mom told me something once that has stuck with me: “When you give things up for your kids, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. You do it because you want something else more.” Or as my pastor’s wife once said, “Every no is a greater yes.” It’s true! I used to have actual breakdowns about the idea that once I had kids, I wouldn’t be able to sleep in on Saturday mornings. Now, when I wake up on Saturdays, I cannot wait to see that little face. The only reason I even remembered this “sacrifice” is that the other day I thought, “Wow, I can’t believe I was worried about that! I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all.”

Myth 4: I will no longer be myself; my “mommyhood” will take over what I’ve been up until now.

I am still myself. In fact, I like myself better. I am more productive. I am more punctual. I was lazy and selfish before I had kids. (This is not to say that all people who don’t have kids are lazy and selfish. This is to say that I was lazy and selfish.) Before I had kids, I would have maybe one or two tasks a day, and I would wait until about 3:30 to get started on them, pushing back dinner preparations while doing so. Now, I do tasks as they come to me—partially out of necessity, partially because I realize I like my house better this way. I get at least three times more done than I did before, and I do it all while wrangling a 15 month old who wants to tackle our cat, who is too stupid to run away. And even if I have a day where the only thing I did was wrangle the toddler, I still got a lot accomplished. Hey! I kept another human alive today! I can feel good about that!

Myth 5: My marriage will suffer.

My marriage is better, not worse. In fact, when I think about my newlywed life, I would never, ever go back to that stage. Our marriage took some adjustments when Elanor was born as we both learned that we both had to do a lot more work. But we enjoy each other more, not less. We are an awesome team. We are more intentional with our time together. Our date nights feel more special.

We also argue less. I think this is possibly because I don’t have as much time to sit around thinking about “my needs.” I am too busy meeting other people’s needs. And biblically, that’s freedom, folks.

Is parenting a lot of work? Yes. Most things worth doing are a lot of work: education, marriage, writing a book… Work, but good work.

It is also way more fun. You know how you feel when you watch The Princess Bride or The Usual Suspects with someone who hasn’t seen them? You enjoy watching that film by yourself, but watching someone experience it for the first time adds all the freshness and fun that you felt for the first time, too. That’s how parenting is. Cap and I talk at least once a week about how we can’t wait for Elanor to experience Dollywood or Lord of the Rings. I have never looked forward to Christmas more than I have this year. The magic is back.

Do I still have emotional breakdowns after stressful, horrible days? Yes, yes I do. But I had emotional breakdowns and stressful, horrible days before I was a parent, too. This time, though, they come with chubby cheeks, and if Elanor is awake when I start my breakdown, she will crawl up and pat me on the head. I still say it’s an improvement.

Does parenting come naturally? Well, no. Parenting doesn’t automatically make life better. Probably the best thing it’s done for me is shake me out of my spiritual complacency and send me running to God. Realizing I’m not sufficient to nurture and teach a human life in this world of danger is my first fearful step to enjoying Elanor every morning. God gives me a true, eternal rock to cling to in a world bombarding me with guilt and fear about parenting. God helps me see that it’s okay that I feel overwhelmed by my responsibilities because He didn’t create me to be all-sufficient—that’s His job. God can give supernatural energy and desire to do what I need to do when I ask Him.

He’s the one who’s busted all those myths I listed above. Without Him, parenting (like everything else) would be a meaningless scramble with no ultimate hope, a life of noisy desperation. With Him… what can I say? I obviously like it so much that even with postpartum depression and more work, I immediately wanted to do it all over again. We were pregnant when Elanor was four months old!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Letter to My Former Self (Who Was Afraid to Become a Parent)

By Shannon Stewart.

It was the fifth Facebook status like it I had seen that day. It read something like, “Naptime. All four kids awake. Poop in my hair.”

To me, happy in my third year of marriage, it made me feel sick inside. I wanted babies—but I didn’t want to “lose my mind,” as many Facebook statuses seemed to suggest I would. I have a Master’s degree in English Literature. I like my mind just the way it is, thank you very much.

So I was scared. And it wasn’t just because of Facebook statuses. I loved my life, my marriage, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? I didn’t see how adding another human to our household could make my wonderful life anything but worse.

I know there are others like me who struggle with the same fears. There is little out there to encourage us. There are mommy blogs that talk about how hard it is, mommy blogs that practically have little hearts floating out of the screens as they revel in how much they adore parenthood (barf), mommy blogs whose sole purpose it is to scare you out of vaccines or co-sleeping… But there was nothing helpful for me, tentatively wanting to be a parent but discouraged at how all these mommy blogs made parenting seem either all-consuming or stressful—or both.

So now that I have a 15 month old and another due this year, I wanted to write a post to my past self (and anyone else like her). Not to tell me how blind I was, not to play the parenting expert, not to coo about how parenting is awesome (though it actually is)—I wanted to write the post I wish my past self had been able to read. In this post, I’d like to address the rhetoric that encourages those fears. Next week (or soon thereafter), I’d like to share how my life has actually improved because I had a kid.

Without further ado, here’s my response to the ideas circulating that, intentional or not, make people like me afraid to parent.

1. Reach for the Stars

The first problem with parenting rhetoric is High Standards. Don’t do this, don’t watch this, only eat organic, use Pinterest to make every day an adventure—or YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE RUINED. My first advice regarding this is to stop reading parenting magazines; most I’ve read run on a mixture of guilt, fear, and consumerism. My second advice is to read this article, this article, and “A Cruel Kindergarchy” in Kevin DeYoung’s fantastic book Crazy Busy.

Essentially, my summary of these authors’ thoughts is this: American parenting today holds itself to too high a standard. Other cultures, and even American culture a century ago, didn’t have all these requirements. There are simply other ways to parent than the ways you see and fear (have you read that second article yet? Go! Go read it!). Think about your own childhood. Did your parent spend every day of your toddler years making your life magical? No. My mom didn’t have the Internet to research, second-guess, and publicly champion every parenting decision she made. And I’m not ruined (at least, I don’t think I am). So parenting doesn’t have to be quite as consuming as the Internet makes it out to be.

2. Woe is We

The second major problem with parenting rhetoric is Complainy Moms. My theory about complainy moms is that they are the kind of people who complain about whatever is going on in their lives. They were the ones who complained about homework during college, about work when they were out of college. Now their favorite subject happens to be their kids. Just hide them from your newsfeed and ignore them like you did in school.

3. False Causes

The third problem with parenting rhetoric isn’t actually the rhetoric; it’s how I chose to interpret what I saw. For example: a harried, upset mom yelling at her three crying kids in Walmart. I looked at that and thought, “I don’t want that in my life. I don’t want to be a parent.” To use fancy terminology, this is the logical fallacy called false cause. This lady was having a bad day. I immediately assumed it was because of her crying kids. Well, maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t. When I see a childless lady in a business suit in Walmart and she’s acting like a jerk to the clerk, I don’t assume it’s because she’s a businesswoman that she’s acting that way. Sometimes businesswomen have bad days. Sometimes moms and kids have bad days. It’s not necessarily because of their jobs that bad days happen.

On the flip side, I also fearfully observed the Mom Who Won’t Shut Up About Her Kids Syndrome. It seemed like whenever I got around my friends who had babies, all they would talk about was the babies, leaving me out of the loop. It also seemed like every third mom I knew would post a picture EVERY 30 MINUTES of her child on Facebook. So I thought, “Motherhood must make you unable to think of anything but children. I would much rather think about book ideas or philosophize about the ultimate futility of Livia’s attempts to control power in Ancient Rome.”

This was silly for two reasons. First: almost no other woman ever wanted to talk with me about Livia before they were moms, either. So again, false cause: it was unfair to believe that they weren’t “on my level” just because they had kids. Maybe I am just a weirdo.

Second: When I enjoy something a lot, I talk about it a lot. That’s why my classes now groan every time I mention The Legend of Zelda. The possible need for self-restraint aside, maybe these moms post about their kids so much because they like having kids!

I will say, now that I have a child, that I don’t only talk about Elanor. My students still come up to me after class to discuss the latest Christopher Nolan movie; Cap and I discuss quiet times and book ideas on dates. I still light up when Legend of Zelda is mentioned (oh my goodness that new gameplay footage of the 2015 game…).

But I do enjoy talking about Elanor. I appreciate having an “in” with other moms, from the grannies at the grocery store to the girls at church with whom I have nothing else in common. Kids are a great conversation starter, and more often than not I’ll leave with some great new idea or encouragement for parenting. Not a bad deal.

So, past self (and all selves like her), there’s my handy guide for dealing with the stuff out there that encourages parenting fear. Next week I’ll talk about how my life has actually improved because I had kids.

photo credit: Wondermonkey2k via photopin cc

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Trillia Newbell and the Church’s Answer to Racism

With memories of racially-tinged police brutalities still lingering in our minds from last year, and the release of Selma last weekend, the topic of racism is alive and well, which is both good and bad. It’s good that we’re talking about it, rather than ignoring it. It’s bad because…well, because it’s still an issue. We’ve come a long way as a country, but we still have a long way to go.

In an article for The Atlantic, Robert P. Jones proposed that “the chief obstacle to having an intelligent, or even intelligible, conversation across the racial divide is that on average white Americans live in communities that face far fewer problems and talk mostly to other white people.” Voluntary segregation is a problem, for many more of us than those who care to admit it.

What is the solution? My friend Trillia Newbell talks about it in her book United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity. Through her own personal experiences, she shares how the gospel empowers interracial harmony.

Considering that the book is titled United, it should come as no surprise that one thing which stuck out to me was just how united all Christians are, regardless of race. The similarities we share in Christ far outweigh any and all differences. Finding our identity in Christ has radical implications for how we view those who are unlike us. It’s a simple truth, but it’s easy to wave off with bored disinterest.

When we don’t fully understand and embrace those implications, we tend to stay within our cliques—even in church:

Self-sufficiency says we don’t need anyone, but humility shouts for help from those God has placed in our lives. . . . [W]e might think that we just don’t need others who are unlike us. Sometimes logistical barriers keep us from being able to expose ourselves to one another, but that is quite different from resisting diversity because, in our pride, we think we are okay relating only to those we already know who are like us.

Our self-sufficiency and pride can often lead to apathy in our relational pursuits:

[W]e must be careful not to use our differences in language and culture as a crutch or an excuse. We also must not allow our differences to be excuses for apathy. It’s simply easier to coast through life not worrying about anyone outside of those immediately associated with us. It takes effort to know those not like us, to study history and ask hard questions and be willing to change.

Lest I give the impression otherwise, Trillia talks more about the solution than she does the problem. Hers is a decidedly hopeful book. Though she has seen and experienced racism in her life, her outlook is based on viewing the future through a gospel-saturated lens:

My dream and hope is that my black-and-white children (the sweet gift of biracial blood) will be holding hands with black, Latino, Chinese, European, and African children in church one day, worshiping together. Stop and think about. Isn’t it a beautiful picture?

I don’t often stop and think when an author tells me to do so (I just want to keep reading), but when I read those words, I did stop, and I did think about it. And it was indeed a beautiful picture.

It will be beautiful to experience that myself in Heaven. In fact, as Trillia points out, if that’s what we’re headed for on the other side of eternity, why not have a little taste of such a culturally and spiritually rich experience in the present? Why wait for Heaven to start enjoying Heavenly gifts now?

I’ve read that Trillia needlessly narrows her audience to those in the Reformed world. I don’t see this as a weakness for two reasons. First, since her book is largely autobiographical, she is simply sharing her experience in the Reformed community. Her testimony doesn’t need to be something it isn’t. Second, my own experience in the Reformed community leads me to believe that people like myself need to hear more perspectives on racial reconciliation. A book catered specifically to us is much needed.

If I had anything negative to say, it would actually be about the editor and not Trillia herself. I caught a small handful of redundancies here and there (just little turns of phrase) that should have been caught and reworded. Nothing major, but I found it to be a distraction. There’s also one instance where a couple sentences on one page are repeated verbatim on another. I hope the editor of Trillia’s next book, whoever he or she may be, will show more attention to detail.

In the end, Christians like me need people like Trillia to help us move past our comfort zones and embrace the “unity through diversity” found through gospel-empowered relationships. I’m thankful for voices like hers. May more of us have ears to hear.

children photo credit: Lennart Tange via photopin cc

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Two Things You May Not Know About Whooping Cough

Around this time last year, our infant daughter was in the hospital with pertussis (i.e., whooping cough). My wife wanted to write a blog post about this dangerous disease, which some countries call “The 100 Day Cough” (and they aren’t kidding, folks). I’ll let Shannon share our experience, and how it might help protect you and those you love.


We were just getting over the flu (I had picked it up at Desolation of Smaug, which makes that film doubly worthless to me). My sweet two-month old Elanor had a few days off from coughing before she started again. Nothing too serious, really—just like a cold. But it never went away. I took her to the pediatrician, and he said it wasn’t bad enough to be pertussis; I should go home and lay my fears to rest. Two nights later we were in the hospital after Elanor temporarily stopped breathing during a coughing fit and gasped out several “whoops” just afterwards.

We had a mild case of pertussis, it turns out. Even better, when I tearfully asked the doctor at the hospital if Elanor’s life was in danger, she stopped just short of rolling her eyes (a gesture which, at the time, I found very comforting). “It’s very rare to die of whooping cough if you’re here,” she said. “Mostly the kids who die are the ones who are too little to get over it by themselves, and their parents try waiting it out too long.”

So Elanor’s life was not in danger. Nonetheless, we were in the hospital for a week. Here is a synopsis of that week: I started whooping just one day after Elanor. Cap got food poisoning. We missed my grandmother’s funeral. Three or four times the staff of the entire floor rushed into our room because Elanor was turning blue. I sprained a rib coughing. (Then a guy with the spiritual gift of healing prayed for me and boom, it was healed! But that’s another story, probably entitled, “I grew up Baptist. I don’t believe in miraculous gifts… wait one of them just worked on me.”) We received food and coffee from loving friends, excellent and compassionate medical care,…aaaaand the kind of bill you’d expect to rack up by staying a week in the hospital.

Once you get whooping cough (and you like to do your research, like me) you learn a few things. Two things, actually, that I’d like everyone to know:

1. The vaccination prevents you from getting the disease. It does not necessarily prevent you from transmitting the disease.

Let me be straight with you: I am not an anti-vaxxer. I am not trying to start a vaccination debate. I learned this from my pediatrician, who always errs on the side of caution, and my reading has confirmed it: people who have the vaccination can still carry and transmit pertussis. The vaccine’s “severity” has been decreased so that it no longer gives herd immunity (but it also no longer gives as many seizures! Yay!). In fact, if you do the incubation-period math (every mom’s favorite math), we believe the person we caught pertussis from had the vaccine.

2. Whooping cough acts like a normal cough for the first two weeks.

You heard me right! For the first two weeks you have pertussis, you will think it is a common cold (albeit a worsening one) or bronchitis. Only after the first two weeks will you start whooping or coughing so hard you vomit.

For those two weeks, you are still contagious. Every time you cough in the grocery store, thinking you have a cold, you are spreading the pertussis bacteria. My apologies to those of you whom I may have infected while grocery shopping during my two weeks.

What are the implications of these two facts? Here’s what they are for me.

If you or your child is coughing, please keep yourselves away from other children.

I know that really stinks. I know it means no Sunday School, no much-needed play dates, no fun ever, period. I also know it’s impossible to do entirely: you have to buy food, after all. But as much as it is possible, it would be a courtesy to the mom of the two-month old who hasn’t yet had her vaccination to safeguard her family as much as possible. It shows real care. I LOVE it when my friend texts me and tells me her kid is sick so I can’t come over. She is protecting us.

And this one is most important: DON’T TOUCH MY BABY.

I will not tell you this to your face, because there really is no nice way to do so. But when you reach for my baby in the grocery store or at church, I am tempted to slap your hand away. I don’t slap your hand because if I did, you would probably think, “What a paranoid jerk.” Yes—I am a paranoid jerk whose daughter caught whooping cough from someone touching her face.

Here’s how you can be polite to a new mom during flu season: don’t touch her babies. Just don’t. She will love you. She will love your understanding of, and avoidance of, the awkward situation most people place her in every time she takes that baby out of the house. She will love you when you pull out your hand sanitizer and douse your hands with it right then and there before you ask to squeeze that baby’s cheeks.

Here are things that people say to put me at ease when they touch my baby:

1.     “I just washed my hands.”
My mental response: Define “just.” Does it mean five minutes ago? Does it mean thirty minutes ago? How many door handles have you touched since then?
My real response: Smile awkwardly. Get away as quickly as possible.

2.     “My cough is only allergies.”
My mental response: Oh really. What are your symptoms? I want a full list. Are you assuming based on your anecdotal knowledge, or have you gone to a doctor and received the literal diagnosis, “It’s just allergies?”
My physical response: “Oh well as long as it’s just allergies.” Smile awkwardly. Get away as quickly as possible.

Please, please, friends—don’t put moms in this incredibly awkward situation. True, not all of them are as paranoid as I am. But not all of them have had whooping cough, either.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Top Ten Posts of 2014

I had no idea just how much the number one thing I learned last year would affect this year’s output, or its popularity. Sex in the movies has been one of my biggest topics in 2014, and, except for one exception, all of my most popular posts this year dealt with the subject. I’m both honored and grateful that these ten articles have received greater exposure (no pun intended). We in the church would do well to utilize the “law of love” more often in our movie-watching and filmmaking habits.

Counting our way up, here are this year’s top ten blog posts at Happier Far.

10. It Doesn’t Matter If Actors Willingly Undress for the Camera. It’s true that some actors in Hollywood seem to have no qualms about shooting nude and/or sex scenes. Such willing consent is, to some, undeniable proof of freedom and beauty. I’ve argued against this mindset elsewhere, but here I attempt to prove something foreign to modern sensibilities: such willingness is actually a moot point.

9. Is the Bible’s Use of Sexuality R-rated? It’s an argument as old as time. Well, as old as R-rated movies, anyway. Christians excuse sexually explicit content in the movies they watch because “the Bible is R-rated.” Is such an argument valid, or is it comparing apples to orangutans? This blog post wrestles with the question.

8. The Second Most Important Reason Why Christians Shouldn’t Watch “Game of Thrones”. Professing Christians need to seriously consider God’s warning against the f-word (i.e., fornication) when plopping down on the couch to watch shows like Game of Thrones. This article hints at the most important reason, but its main focus is on a secondary (though still important) issue.

7. Start Supporting Pornography or Stop Supporting “The Wolf of Wall Street”. One of my more research-heavy pieces, this blog post uses some concrete examples—involving Miley Cyrus and Martin Scorsese—to show the double standard many Christians use in evaluating entertainment with pornographic material in them: “We’re living out a twisted version of The Emperor’s New Clothes, where the townsfolk are no longer pretending their ruler has clothes on—they’re actually convinced nothing is amiss.”

6. Legalism, Sexual Sin, and My Experience with Bill Gothard. It was sickening and disheartening to hear that Bill Gothard, an internationally recognized Christian leader, has been accused of gross sexual misconduct. The evidence does not lean in his favor. So how should people like me, who have benefited from some of his work, respond?

5. How I Almost Broke My Marriage. In a guest post, my wife bared her soul and shared about some of her failings, which struck a chord with other women—married and single. A lot of blog-reading moms shared the article on Facebook, bumping its popularity up higher than either Shannon or I expected.

4. When Christians Support Porn. Believers from even just a couple decades ago would’ve been shocked to hear that modern-day Christ followers would not only excuse but also approve of mainstream consumption of pornography. The release of a pornographic DVD this year received high praise from Christian critics, not the least of which included Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. I added my concerns to those of two WORLD Magazine columnists.

3. What About Actors Who Willingly Undress for the Camera? I posted this article a week before the follow-up piece (see item number 10). In attempting to address this issue, I honed in on three examples from Margot Robbie’s acting experiences in one specific movie. She was more than a willing participant, but if you read her accounts from being on set, you discover a dark undertone to her consent.

2. Hollywood Sex Scenes vs. Porn: So What if They’re (Kind of) Different? When you draw comparisons between mainstream entertainment and the porn industry, a common argument thrown at you is that there are obvious differences. At first glance, that argument seems to hold a lot of weight, in part because it is undeniably true. However, a closer inspection shows that these differences actually—and surprisingly—serve to further condemn Hollywood’s use of sex scenes and nudity.

1. Hollywood’s Secret Rape Culture. Sometimes you write something that you expect to be popular, but it isn’t. Other times, you write something that explodes with popularity, taking you completely by surprise. This post is one such example: thus far, it’s the only piece I’ve written on this blog that has gone viral. Of all the pieces of writing I’ve published this year, I’m glad that this received the most attention. It exposes a serious blight on our entertainment that is largely unnoticed, or outright ignored, by the general public, and Christians are no exception. The vital message of this blog post is something I plan on hammering home again and again in the years to come.

Honorable mentions

A few articles that didn’t quite make the cut, but which are equally important to me, deal with similar issues as the articles above:

How to Tell if You’re Treating Actors Like Whores. Yes, it’s possible to watch movies with sex scenes and/or nudity while effectively guarding your eyes and keeping your heart pure. It’s possible to do all that and still treat actors like pawns for your own pleasure. (In fact, it’s almost impossible not to.) This article offers a succinct quiz to help you check how much—or little—genuine Christian charity you show to the actors in the movies and/or shows you choose to watch.

“Sex Scenes in Movies Don’t Bother Me”. It’s an argument I’ve heard way too many times. People who say this are either telling the truth or lying. The thing is, both excuses are inexcusable (with few exceptions). Here’s why.

The Real Problem with Nude Celebrity Photos. After several celebrity nude photos were stolen and leaked on the internet, I mused about the problem beneath the problem—the heart issue that lies under the surface issue. This post became strangely prophetic, seeing as how it hypothesized a scenario that came true a couple months later when Keira Knightley willingly posted a nude photo of herself.