Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir (Review)

While I don't hand out book accolades right and left, I also don't like to judge a book too quickly. I typically give a novel 50 pages to win me over or lose me forever. It really shouldn't take an author 50 pages to hit his stride, but some books do get out of the gate more slowly, right? (J.R.R. Tolkien, I'm looking at you.) It's the rare story that explodes out at you right after the intro.

However, The Night Watchman is one of those books.

A throwback novel in terms of style and motif, Mark Mynheir's The Night Watchman is a convoluted murder mystery with a hard-boiled, down-on-his-luck detective. If you're a fan of film noir or classic murder fiction, you know the recipe: a tough, likable protagonist with a tragic back story tries to overcome big odds to prove his life is still worth living.

The Night Watchman isn't what you call an original, genre-bending work of fiction. But Mynheir does plenty of things very well. He develops his characters carefully. He pulls of his protagonist's tough, wry voice without falling into cliché. He weaves faith into the story without forcing the issue. And he writes a first chapter that's impeccably timed and yanks you headlong into the story.

If you're looking for a detective story with heart and a good first-person voice, The Night Watchman is well worth your time.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Evidence for Jesus' Kingdom: The Quizzical Life

Every once in awhile I meet someone who goes through life with a look of mild perplexity on his face--not fear, not discomfort--but a head-cocked attitude of incredulity, as if his whole life he'd been watching a film that did not quite render accurately on the big screen.

For decades now he has been watching this movie, and there is a lingering sense of something off-center. Perhaps the camera is not capturing it all. Or the aspect ratio is haphazard and cropped the edges of the picture. Maybe the details would appear if viewed one frame at a time.

Because the film has surreal undercurrents. Something more than the color tones. The figures are occasionally blurry. The plot lines do not always resolve. And every so often he snaps to attention and remembers it is his own life, and the lives of those around him, that provoke this vague sense of disquiet.

He is living out a movie that does not quite render.

I like to consider this phenomenon as evidence of a better world, an eternal kingdom that is on the way but hasn't yet arrived. It's absence is so strong that everything currently present is colored by it. It's possible to go through one's entire life missing it, and looking at the present world quizzically, and wondering why the images and plot lines don't quite resolve.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Paul Pierce: Respect the Truth

I realize I may have been the only one in the Midwest watching the NBA playoffs, but since the Magic bounced my Celtics a few nights ago, I thought I'd take a moment to pass on a tribute to my favorite current NBA player, Paul Pierce.

At KU, Pierce was a nonchalant assassin. Sometimes he would disappear, his squeaky sneakers the loudest part of his game, apparently from boredom. But Pierce was consistently underrated and unrecognized, and eventually that got to him. When he got fired up, Paul Pierce was an offensive machine, sinking daggers and slashing to the rim with an uncanny ability to frustrate defenders and a remarkable feel for momentum and timing in a game.

Pierce's career in the league is likely winding down, but Upon Further Review have crunched the numbers for us, proving that despite his lone championship ring, Pierce is in very elite company indeed.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sometimes not even an excess of enthusiasm can overcome a lack of weight

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Crossroads Church Kansas City: Site Live

Thought I'd put a plug in for the new website for our church plant in downtown Kansas City, Crossroads Church. Check it out:

Crossroads Church Kansas City

We've tried to incorporate some social media--Facebook, Flickr and Twitter--to add some interactivity. Also, we didn't want Crossroads to have a Mr. Milquetoast look with little doves and crosses in the header. Instead, we're trying to mirror the vibe of urban Kansas City. Feel free to send comments or suggestions my way.

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Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife