The Garden of Enid: AuthorCast with Scott Hales

This is part of the DR Book Collection.

Image result for the garden of enidWhile Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes touched on childhood and life experience more generally, cartoonist Scott Hales delves into the details and nuances of Mormonism’s unique and somewhat odd culture while capturing the same kind of magic described above. His new graphic novel–The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Girl, Part One–follows the thoughts and experiences of Enid: a witty, contemplative, socially-awkward (“weird”) 15-year-old Mormon girl. The hilarity of the strips stems from the portrayals of embarrassingly familiar situations faced by young Mormons: stake dances, boring teachers, YW camp, EFY, etc. Reading them feels like being in on an inside joke. Their depth, however, emerges from the moments of loneliness, uncertainty, reflection, and flickers of human connection. For me, the heart of the graphic novel is summed up in Enid’s exchange with her McConkie-loving seminary teacher who dismisses her “weird questions” in favor of a supposedly “simple”, “black and white” gospel. By contrast, the God Enid believes in is a “colorful” one “who likes weird questions.” Similarly, life is not “black and white.” It’s not even gray. It’s vibrant.

The Garden of Enid is what it is to be an American Mormon in microcosm. Even though the main character is a Mia Maid, Enid’s experiences can resonate with Mormons of all ages and genders. For me, Enid is that ward member that you have an unexpected, but incredibly moving moment with; that member who totally “gets it” when you’re unable to put on a smile at church. But she also–like Calvin–can model what not to do and how to cut oneself off from others. Like the best comic strips, Enid allows you to both laugh and reflect. And it’s a nice reminder that not only is God colorful, but so is life.

You can see my full review (from which the above is taken) at Worlds Without End. You can listen to cartoonist Scott Hales interviewed on Greg Kofford Books’ AuthorCast here.

Donald Trump: Plant for the Dems

donald-trumpWell someone with more legitimacy (at least in the political world) has picked up my theory that DT is a plant for the Democrats.  I believe this theory because he has actually made me consider voting for Hillary, and that is a turn of events I find hard to believe.

Carlos Curbelo, a Republican congressman from Florida, has stated,

“Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. They were at his last wedding, he has contributed to the Clintons’ foundation, (and) he has contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious.”

Along with the fact that Trump has said he will run as an independent if he doesn’t get the nomination, everything points to: plant.  Even his hair.  Or especially.

Please, spread this theory.  Make all your friends suspicious of DT, not just the sane ones.

The Philosophy News Network

Existential Comics posted a hilarious strip about the Philosophy News Network. Here’s a sample of Albert Camus as rugby sports reporter:

889 - Camus as Sports Reporter

My favorite parts were actually the little ticker scroller running along the bottom, however. Here’s another one of those:

898 - What It is Like to Be a Bat

That’s a reference to Thomas Nagel’s famous essay What Is It Like to Be a Bat?, by the way. But if you want to know about the Large Idea Collider, you’ll have to check out the full post.


America’s Most Profound Comic Strip

Calvin and Hobbes were fans of print journalism—or at least the comics.

In 1985, American newspaper readers met an appalling little boy. He taunted his mother (“Prepare for annihilation, pitiful Earth female”), tormented a classmate by telling her he had brought a “thermos full of phlegm” for lunch and kept a sign on his bedroom door that read “Enter and die.” Millions fell in love with him.

Running in hundreds of papers for the following decade, Bill Watterson ’s “Calvin and Hobbes” was not only the strangest American comic strip. It was also the funniest, the most touching and the most profound.

So begins a fantastic article on Calvin & Hobbes in The Wall Street Journal yesterday. The title captures my sentiments exactly: “‘Calvin & Hobbes’: America’s Most Profound Comic Strip.”

Check it out.

Christianity and Paganism

Merry Christmas everyone! Tis the season for comparisons of Christianity to paganism. I’ve made it a regular ritual to watch Lutheran Satire on the matter:

For years I had accepted that Christianity had probably at least borrowed the date of Christmas from pagans. Turns out that’s not even true. Christians used some interesting math to determine Christ’s birthday, but it had nothing to do with paganism:

If the birth of Jesus was not celebrated by the early church, it also was because there was not a consensus as to when it had occurred. Writing shortly after the assassination of Commodus on December 31, AD 192, Clement of Alexandria provides the earliest documented dates for the Nativity. One hundred ninety-four years, one month, and thirteen days, he says, had elapsed since then, which corresponds to a birth date of November 18 or, if the forty-nine intercalary days missing from the Alexandrian calendar are added, January 6. Moreover, “There are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth, but also the day” (Stromata, I.21), including dates in April and May, as well as another day in January.

Hippolytus, a younger contemporary of Clement, does state that the Nativity had occurred on December 25 (Commentary on Daniel, IV.23.3). Although the statement may be a later interpolation, he reiterated several decades later (in AD 235) that Jesus was born nine months after the anniversary of the creation of the world, which Hippolytus believed to have been on March 25 (Chronicon, 686ff). The Nativity then would be on December 25.

In about AD 221, Julius Africanus wrote the Chronographiae, the first Christian chronology. Although he does not specifically mention the Nativity, he did believe that Jesus had been conceived on March 25. In AD 243, Cyprian is the first Christian writer to associate the birth of Jesus with the Sun: “O! The splendid and divine Providence of the Lord, that on that day, even at the very day, on which the Sun was made [March 28], Christ should be born” (De Pascha Computus, XIX). Creation itself was on March 25, the vernal equinox, and the Sun created on the fourth day, March 28. It followed, then, that the “Sun of righteousness,” in Malachi’s phrase, would be born on the same day.

And pagans might have even revived their winter solstice celebrations in response to Christianity:

Hijmans presents a critical re-evaluation of the History of Religions hypothesis and the notion that the early church incorporated the feast of Sol Invictus into its own liturgy, positing instead that the pagan festival was “‘rediscovered’ by pagan authorities in response to the appropriation of the winter solstice by Christianity.” The festival of Sol Invictus, in other words, may not have been identified with December 25 until after the first Christmas had been celebrated on that day. Nor, he argues, should the cosmic symbolism attached to the winter solstice, which may have led the church to adopt December 25 for its feast of the Nativity, be confused with a cult of Sol on that date.

The winter solstice, when the light of day finally begins to lengthen, would have a natural association with the “Sun of righteousness.” Indeed, Tertullian writes that “It is therefore due to a want of heed and reflection that many are offended by the mere fact that heresies have so much power. How much would they have if they did not exist?” (On the Prescription of Heretics, I). Here, the paradox is that the absence of heresy would confound the predictions of Scripture, as when one is admonished to “beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15).

Some pagan influences would creep in later (such as Yule), but by that time the Christian foundations of Christmas were well set, and pagan elements were a peripheral cultural attachment, not a fundamental aspect of the celebration.