It’s been awhile since I did a debrief on the things I’m watching, reading, and listening to. I know when I’m looking for new things to read, shows to watch, or music to listen to I go by the recommendations of friends. So consider this post one big recommendation from a friend! This is not exhaustive, I’m reading way more books than the ones listed for instance, but this is a good overview of what my summer looks like, pop culture wise. Let’s go!
Back to the Well; Women’s Encounters with Jesus in the Gospels by Frances Taylor Gench: This book is my, admittedly very long, answer to the question how I can find feminism in my faith. Academic and accessible in equal parts Gench is taking me through 6 encounters Jesus had with women during his ministry and pulling apart the radical spiritual truths that can be gleaned from them. I find myself unable to read this in total silence, but instead finding the closest person I can and reading them bits and pieces that open my worldview in incredible ways. (Which is fine when it’s my mother or a friend of mine, more awkward when I’m at Panera eating lunch on my own.) This book is not just an academic treasure, but hits me with spiritual truth every other line. In chapter one referencing the Canaanite woman who requests (really demands) healing for her daughter Gench writes “The Canaanite woman knows who Jesus is and holds him to it; she will not settle for a diminishment of the promise. She insists Jesus be Jesus, and through her insistence she frees him to be fully who he is.” Jesus came to liberate and empower the poor and the powerless; to give voice to the voiceless. Most of the woman in this book are unnamed, but their voices live on reverberating through time telling me that the one who created me created me to have a voice and use it.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari: Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite television shows and I’ve been a fan of Aziz on that show as well as his standup and Netflix Series. This book is a humorous yet also serious sociological look at the hell that is dating in the 21st century; texting as the primary form of communication, spending hours crafting the perfect response than staring obsessively at the 3 little dots appearing and disappearing knowing that time has never moved slower than it currently is. Ansari posits that it’s not just technology that has changed the way people “find love” but in the fact the very way our culture thinks about love and dating has changed so dramatically over the last 2 decades it’s no wonder we have a bit of whiplash. This book genuinely makes me laugh out loud without a care about where I’m reading it. (Sorry people on the train). Read this if you’re single, in a relationship, doing the online dating thing, or cowering in fear of all dating apps. Whatever your situation this book will make you laugh.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: I am obsessed with novels that are from multiple perspectives. This one is about a hotel in Paris run by an unassuming concierge named Renee who spends all her time scrutinizing the tenets of the building. I don’t want to talk too much about the plot because the beauty of this novel is in the reading and discovery of it. I will say that reading this book makes me want to pack up everything I own and go live in Paris tomorrow so if that sounds up your alley, check this out.
Currently listening (music):
Absent Sounds by From Indian Lakes: my music taste runs in the indie direction hard and fast (with a brief stop over in top 40 pop; come at me….I’m not ashamed) and From Indian Lakes is squarely in my indie love wheelhouse. Interesting beats and lyrics that leave me speechless with their beauty I listen to this album on repeat to fall asleep every night. I’m seeing them in concert this September. I’ve heard they’re even better live so I’m basically counting the moments until that day. I will be forever jealous I did not write the line “We breath so desperately as if it’s the only thing we need, and we don’t care if it’s not breathing honestly.”
Atlas Rhoads: The self titled album from this band is very guitar driven; indie and quiet. perfect for a drive home in the dark. If a band has tight beautiful harmonies I am incapable of resisting them and Atlas Rhoads is a feast for my ears in this case. The way “He cries” begins with the journey on a road to Bethlehem and builds all the way to the glorious truth of resurrection is one of the most beautiful musical journeys I have ever been on. This band is relatively new and I can’t wait to see what they put out next.
Currently listening (podcasts):
The Liturgists Podcast: My friend Heather recommended episode 34 “Black and White: Racism in America” as a response to the terrible week we had dealing with so much death and violence in the African American and police communities. The episode was a blinding wake up call for me, not even as a white woman, but primarily as a Christian. We are living in a moment of great division and the church should be the first ones to stand up and show the rest of the world how the power of the Holy Spirit can heal and bridge even the most entrenched of divides. Listen to this podcast and be prepared to think differently than you ever have about your role in facilitating racial healing in your world.
Gilmore Guys: Two guys, one who loves the show Gilmore Girls and one who has never seen it watch every episode of the show and discuss it. I am furiously working my way through the immense back catalogue of this podcast to make sure I’m all caught up by the time the new episodes of the show come out on Netflix this fall. Gilmore Girls was one of my favorite shows and its return was basically the best news of 2016. (If Rory doesn’t end up with Jess there is no justice in this world. #teamjess forever and ever.) The boys have funny, interesting, and thought provoking insights as well as a wonderful array of guests each week to discuss one of the best shows of all time. This podcast is for fans of the show and newbies; it’s light, fun and happy. Just like the show.
Arrested Development: It’s summertime so I’m not watching as much TV as I normally do. Having said that I’m spending most of my nights before I go to sleep laughing my head off at the funniest show to ever be on TV. I’ve seen every episode of the first 3 seasons (skip the fourth it’s not worth it) so many times I can quote them frontwards and backwards. And yet that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch. The Bluth family is ridiculous and I would never want to be around them in my real life, but I could watch them be terrible human beings forever and ever and not tire of laughing at them. If you’ve never watched the show do it now, and if you have? Just like there’s always money in the banana stand there’s always a reason to watch Arrested Development again.
Down the shore: Ok so this isn’t really pop culture but since it’s summer this definitely falls under what I’m currently obsessed with. I’m a Jersey girl and summer in jersey means sun and sand at the Jersey shore. Last summer I had a house for a week, and since I couldn’t do that this summer I determined to do as many day trips as possible. I think my car might know the way to Ocean City by heart now. I’ve said it before on this blog but there is nothing more relaxing than spending the day laying on a sheet that smells like sunscreen with the warm sun on my face and the sound of crashing waves in my ear. Staying till the sun starts to set is a must followed by pizza and water ice on the boardwalk with just enough of a breeze to make a hoodie necessary. If you’re in a land locked state…I’m sorry for you. If you live near the ocean what are you waiting for? Go now! If you hate the summer and can’t wait for winter…I have no words, you are a foreign concept to me. I’m joking of course (kind of), but a list of my summer obsessions would be incomplete without this one.
So there you go. This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather a brief overview of my pop culture life as it currently stands. Feel free to leave me suggestions of what to read/listen to/watch in the comments. Maybe it’ll get featured in my next obsession post!