Keeping Faith While In Despair

Hey all! I received the privilege of publishing an article on Self Talk the Gospel, an online writing community that I had been interning with as a Content Curator during the previous six months. I wrote a guest post for their Impressed Series, in which their writers describe an experience with a piece of literature that left a lasting impression.

For my article “Keeping Faith While in Despair,” I chose to write about Soren Kierkegaard’s book Fear and Trembling (even a year since graduation, my humanities classes are still ringing in my ears), along with my experience of faith and spiritual depression. Here’s a snippet:

Finally. I had finally encountered a fellow lover of wisdom and member of the Christian faith who told me that the authenticity of my faith doesn’t depend on how I feel before I go to bed at night, or how I feel during worship at church. That my choosing faith is what matters, as opposed to depending on whether or not I feel like I have faith.

You can read the rest of the article by following the link here. If you’re curious about topics of Kierkegaard, the nuances of spirituality and faith, despair, and/or my writing in general, check it out!



Dinosaurs! Gore! Jesus!…wait, what?

I’m soon going to tell you about a story about a dinosaur that wants to take over the world. Intrigued? You should read it then…

I first found out about the book Nevada through my favorite band Showbread. Their lead singer, Joshua Porter (more commonly known as Josh Dies), is a musical and literary hero of mine (the guy’s a genius when it comes to writing lyrics, if you ask me), so when I found out he had started writing novels, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.

Nevada unfolds the apocalyptic story of America’s ensnarement by a large, talking reptile named Belial. Beginning with the bizarre discovery of a cave inhabited by dinosaurs in Nevada’s desert, Belial reveals himself to the public and sweet-talks his way into the people’s hearts by offering them an ear-tickling doctrine where self is god. Eventually, Belial’s popularity gains him the power to set up the “Trash of God” center in Los Angeles, a place for his faithful to swarm together, with the idea of utopia in mind. And many weird things happen (sorry I won’t spoil it).

While the “end times” theme of this story may come off as trite, Porter employs multiple techniques to keep this book interesting and shocking.

Porter’s narrative through multiple perspectives of numerous characters and “confiscated” pieces of media (like blog articles) gives the book diversity through each different voice through which the story is told. Porter successfully develops at least six distinct, first-person viewpoints through the characters of an adulterous wife, her angry husband, a mildly mentally disabled man, a womanizer, a frantic mother, and a man with anti-social personality disorder. I was fascinated to see how each person’s account worked together to build up the over-arching story.

Side note: Porter also throws in a large handful of celebrity names into the story—e.g. Ashton KutcherAnne Hathaway—writing them in as some of the first to come to Belial’s T.O.G center and help with his projects. I just never thought I would read a book that mentioned Ashlee Simpson. Anyhow…

I also loved Porter’s own writing style: raw, non-sugarcoated narrative with an ability to give extremely graphic descriptions in few words. Since most characters give first-person accounts, their emotions and thoughts are not vague in any way; you will learn what goes on in the heads of each character, including the womanizer and the anti-social man—such unambiguous thoughts are often as disturbing as interesting.

As the story begins with bizarre, it seems to grow increasingly dark, with increasing amounts of gory episodes—one in particular absolutely shocked me (although I should say the highest caliber of violence I’ve experienced is probably among 24 and Gladiator).  But this book is not just some off-the-wall, people-die-in-nasty-ways sort of novel; the spiritual undertones are hard to miss, and Porter never lets his stories end unredeemed.

Though so strange and harsh, beauty triumphs in the end, and, yes, I did cry a little in the end. The books I love tend to do that to me.

If Nevada’s story sounds interesting, you can read an interview of the author here, or buy a copy at Porter’s webstore here.

Book Review: The Bell Jar

A few days ago I just added another book to my favorites list: The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath.

I had come to knowledge about Plath through the praises of her works by my favorite musician, Josh Dies, and by reading her poetry(which was fascinating as tattoos, paintings, and sad movies) for my A.P. English work last summer. A friend lent me the book, encouraging me by her own positive experience to read it…so I did.

As formerly mentioned, I rather enjoyed it.

“It was a queer sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” –First sentence in The Bell Jar (isn’t it AWEsome?!)

The storyline follows a college girl’s developing insanity through neurosis. Basically. Obviously, there’s more to the story than that, otherwise it wouldn’t be a classic.

Plath writes in first person, which makes her character Esther Greenwood very real and personal as the story develops. The way Plath crafted Esther’s thought patterns makes her world of madness come alive through intense descriptions and jarring realizations–personally, I never thought, “Man, this chick is crazy and lame and should get a life!” Rather, I was fully able to see the world through Esther’s perspective, strangely able to understand her hopelessness. The writing clearly sets The Bell Jar apart from other books; there is not a word in it that deserves the blah category or says “I am here to make the author sound smart and you feel stupid, mwa-ha-ha!”, and I believe Plath has created a uniquely raw and interesting piece of work.

Here, why don’t I just show you some examples from the book?

“People were made of nothing so much as dust, and I couldn’t see that doctoring all that dust was a bit better than writing p0ems people could remember and repeat to themselves when they were unhappy or sick and couldn’t sleep.” (Ch. 5)
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked […] I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. (Ch. 7)

“I didn’t want my picture taken because I was going to cry. I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of my throat and I’d cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full.” (Ch. 9)

If you’re looking for something interesting and different to read this summer that’s above Stephanie Meyer’s reading level, I recommend this book. Because of thematic elements (as in stuff about trying to die, ya know), I would say it’s certainly for more mature audiences. But if bizarre life concepts interest you…I bet you won’t be able to stop reading.