Rudolph is as synonymous with Christmas as the jolly elf himself, Santa. But is this timeless tale of overcoming the odds really just a pale cover for a story that encourages bullying and non-inclusiveness? 

Well, I have a few things to say about that. Stick with me as I do a rather thorough analysis on one of my favorites from my childhood - and now my adulthood. Just in time for the holidays, no less. 

Credit to Burl Ives for his rendition of "Rudolph: The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and 1964's television special of the same name. 

The Narrative Wars returneth.... 

You may have never heard of Amelie Wen Zhao (or maybe you have?) but just in case you did or didn't, this episode was catalyzed by a recent ordeal involving the up-and-coming YA fiction writer. Ms. Zhao was the subject of some harsh criticism for her new book, Blood Heir, which hadn't even hit the shelves yet. Her book, as described by her earliest of critics, was said to be "racially insensitive" and was encouraged to the point of not releasing her book. Here's the catch though: many of her detractors had not even read the book. Apparently hearsay and a few buzzwords had caused many to take to the social media to block the Blood Heir release. Much talk and discussion over Zhao's ordeal followed. 

Yet after the social media mob settled, she decided to move forward with her book anyway and not give in to earlier pressures to not publish it. Her book was published mid-November 2019. 

This episode is an attempt to talk through artistic expression and how creatives can face a lot of external pressure - even before their idea is off the ground. 

Hope you enjoy. 

The Writer's Lens returns! 

In my first episode in over a month, I take a look at one of my all-time favorites: Tolkien's first of three stories in the Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Lovers of the fantasy epic recognize LOTR for its dramatic visuals, beautiful descriptions, and downright awesome story. For this episode, I take a deeper look at Tolkien's theme of fellowship. As a man who lived through some of the most horrific wars in human history, Tolkien understood the need to band together for the sake of a larger cause. As such, his first entry into the series explores the dynamics of group membership and how it can unravel when leadership is lost or when selfish desires take hold. And even more so, how do we even get into the group in the first place?

These ideas and questions I attempt to tackle in about 30 minutes - which is a significantly less amount of time than the extended edition on DVD or Blu-Ray. Enjoy! 

My latest interview is with a couple of gents I got connected with recently. Erik Marti and Stephen Lauterbach are the voices of "Despite Popular Belief", a podcast that tackles several interesting topics, like the Leviathan, Salem Witch Trials, and predestination; doing so through a Biblical worldview. 

I was on Despite Popular Belief talking about the power of storytelling. Now, I get to ask Erik and Stephen about their own stories. How they came together, how they developed the idea for Despite Popular Belief, and how they see the podcast in the future. 

You can check them out on Spotify, Google Play, and iTunes. Or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @DespitePopularBelief. 

I'm not a big fan of scary stories. They aren't the type of story I indulge regularly. 

However, that's not to say that I'm antagonistic towards scary moments. If a story is good; if a story is intriguing; if it seems to be headed somewhere other than just another scare, then I'm better at accepting the scares when they come.

That being said, I wanted to comment on the recent reimagining of Stephen King's "It". Not the story necessarily, but whether or not the onset of terror is more intense when a) it's a child or b) it's an adult. The answer might be obvious, but what does this mean outside of fiction? What is the truth behind a child's helplessness and the responsibilities we have as adults to watch out for them? This episode is an attempt to scratch the surface on perhaps several more conversations. 

My latest interview was with Sam Eldredge, co-author of the bestselling book, "Killing Lions"; a book that was co-written with Sam's father, founder of Ransomed Heart and bestselling author himself, John Eldredge.

Taken literally, "Killing Lions" might appear to be a tactical guide on how to hunt the king of the jungle, but the meat and bones of "Killing Lions" deals with a very different issue: how do boys become men? And even more importantly, how do they transition into manhood well? "Killing Lions" explores a series of conversations between Sam and his father, John, and what the rites of passages look like for young men. Having gone through the book a few years back, I was elated to speak with Sam about the origins of this book and what it was like for him to co-publish something with his own father - who just so happens to be a published writer in his own right. 

Sam is one of the minds behind And Sons magazine and is currently working on a few other writing projects (a couple of which I tried to get out of him, but you'll just have to listen to see if I succeeded). 

Either way, I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. For more on Sam, you can go to andsonsmagazine.com 

 

One of my favorite films of all time. Arguably one of Disney's greatest works of the past 30 years, The Lion King is the coming-of-age tale of Simba, a lion cub destined to be King of Pride Rock, who is framed for murdering his own father, Mufasa. Whose evil uncle, Scar, takes over in Simba's absence, runs the Pride Lands into famine and death, but is confronted by an aged and courageous Simba, who has spent years running away from his problems. 

It's a great story, further accentuated by its iconic music and iconic voices (James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, and Nathan Lane, to name a few). And though its popularity is undeniable, does The Lion King truly offer up a redemptive narrative? Simba regains what was rightfully his - the throne of Pride Rock - but is that all there is to a good redemption story? This is my analysis episode for Disney's The Lion King

The animated one. Not the live-action-which-wasn't-live-action version of 2019. Enjoy. 

In the first episode of a new series, I take a look at themes supporting popular books, shows and films. 

First up is the Netflix original, "Dark"; a show that puts a twist on time travel. Or rather, puts its audiences minds in a twist with its complex characters and increasingly complex plot developments. Great writing aside, it made me wonder something, which became the catalyst for this episode: What would we do if time travel was possible? 

 

After a couple weeks' break, we're back to finish this small series on Exploring, Exposing, and now, Exalting Ideas. What does it look like when an idea is glorified? And how might we be more cognizant of the ideas we are ingesting?

This one got a little ranty, but that comes with the territory. 

Ever have a conversation where you couldn't convince the other party of something? You have all the facts. You have all the information. But for whatever the reason, the other person just won't see things from your perspective. 

Never? Yeah, me neither (insert sarcasm).  

Changing someone's mind is hard. We aren't really as open as we'd like to think (cruel irony there, is it not?). New ideas can rock our worldview. And it can make for some rather uncomfortable situations if we're discussing them openly with another who thinks differently than us. 

From a writer's perspective, storytelling - effective storytelling - is a powerful means by which to change the course of someone's mindset. A great story can make someone aware of something he never knew or even cause him to consider making a 180 on his own thinking.

This episode of the #NarrativeWars is a deep dive so be sure to stick with me till the end. 

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