What to Watch this Week: Sherlock

There is certainly no shortage of adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes saga. But, in my mind, few have been as successful as BBC’s Sherlock, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Three seasons in to this excellent show (with two more written and, albeit slowly, on the way), it is not lacking in popularity. It probably does not need my recommendation, yet I will give it freely anyways, for what it’s worth. In a culture where the trend leans toward the transient, to television series and movies designed to be consumed in vast proportions and then promptly forgotten, Sherlock stands out.

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The Container of Fear

For me, fear has always been such an omnipresent and unavoidable participant in life. Between fear and love, there is a constant struggle, a struggle that seems as though it will be ever ongoing, never complete, until the ultimate end. And yet, it has been said that “perfect love casts out fear.” I think we all have an idea of what this means, and simply reading the words provides a certain level of comfort. But how far does this “perfect” love extend, and how permanent is this banishment of fear? Is it truly possible to “cast out” fear while in the transient and shifting world, or is it only a promise for another world to come?

I think it can be both, and that there are often unexplored depths to the profound relationship between love and fear. On a first and fundamental level, “perfect love” refers to God. Since God is love, any genuine display of love reveals part of His nature. Because of this, we can turn to Him and in His presence, experience the divine love, the “perfect love” that is stronger than and has no need of fear. This is the only way in which we can truly vanquish fear, or any kind of evil. By placing ourselves in God’s hands, the fear no longer belongs. It is no longer necessary. We can see clearly the distance between lies produced by fear, and Truth. Within these moments of clarity, fear is exposed for its powerlessness.

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Inside Out

I was not expecting to like “Inside Out.”

That’s not to say that I didn’t expect it to be good. Pixar films are consistently high quality and I assumed that this one would be similarly well-done, also considering the things I had heard about Inside Out specifically. I expected it to be good. But I didn’t really expect to like it.

This pre-judgement stems, I would say, from two reasons. First, I will freely admit that I am a tad prejudiced towards animated movies. I don’t know what it is about them (actually, I guess it would be that there are no real people, only cartoon characters), but I am often reluctant and only minimally excited going into animated movies, perhaps with an implicit skepticism about such a film’s ability to provide real emotional depth. Yet, as quality animated films have proved to me time and time again, this assumption is an oversight and, indeed, a simplification of emotional depth and meaning in the world of film.

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The Runner: A Study in Being

This is the first post in a series entitled “The Runner.” I will be releasing a new post in the series each week, reflecting on a different aspect of running or reflection to which running can lead us.

Why running? A couple months ago, I began running. Although I had run before, of course, I had never done so regularly. As the act of running grew to become part of my routine, despite inevitable ebb and flow, I was surprised and moved by all that this seemingly simple pursuit can do, not just for the body but for the mind and soul too. This series is written not only for people who run. It is not even only for people who exercise. It is just for people. Running reveals deep truths about the human person, truths that can be shared and experienced by runners and non-runners alike.

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What to Listen to this Week: The National

One of my favourite bands is the indie rock group, The National. This week (as well as most weeks) I’ll be listening to them, and I think their music is of the kind that you can keep listening and continually discovering new depth and richness to it. Their songs are polished and perfectly sculpted, and what stands out above all is the uniquely deep voice of lead singer, Matt Berninger (you’ll know what I mean if you listen).

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Book Review: Middlemarch


Middlemarch, by George Eliot, is considered by many to be the greatest English novel ever written, and I can’t say I take issue with this sweeping statement. It is a masterful work, but this high praise, these assertions of greatness, do not need to be something that scares us away from reading a book like Middlemarch. Great novels such as this, especially when they are removed from us by past, may seem more difficult or like they require too much effort. However, they are not inaccessible; in fact, Middlemarch is very enjoyable to read, and the efforts that are put into reading and appreciating the book will be richly rewarded.

At the centre of Middlemarch are the issues of progress and change. Middlemarch itself is a provincial town in England, and the book is set just before the first Reform Bill, which passed in 1832. Along with the Reform Bill came many changes in the law and in the way that things were done and understood, but in the novel the possibility of such changes is regarded with suspicion by many of the townspeople. Yet Middlemarch, the novel, is not merely focused on the political tension preceding change, but on relationships, on love and on marriage.

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 We often become so consumed with the things we do not have, that we do not recognize or appreciate the things that are ours. We become so consumed with the person we think we should or would like to be, that we fail to see or accept the person that we are. We become so consumed with the places we are not (and that we might have been), that we neglect to notice the places in which we are. These gifts we spurn because we do not see them as gifts, are gifts nonetheless, gifts regardless of where they fall on our scale of a “good life.”

A good life is not one in which the requisite boxes are all checked, but one that is good for you and you only. The absolute determination of this good is beyond our capacity. Thus there is no definition or model of a good life. To live a good life you must be open to the fluidity of the moment, an openness that encompasses and embraces deviations from your own plans, the plans of others and the plans you feel you should have followed but did not. It is the far-spreading sickness of regret and the fruitlessness of fear that prevent such openness. We are not open and so we are unable to receive the gifts that come to us moment by moment. We cannot receive them, because our lack of mindfulness blocks us from recognizing their beauty. We see them but do not see them as they really are, and this is all the difference.

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