About Anthony Weber

Anthony graduated from Cedarville University in 1995 with a degree in English Education, and from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana in 2004 with a Master's Degree in Theology and Philosophy. Anthony is a husband and father of three, an author ("Learning to Jump Again"), high school and college teacher, pastor, blogger (tcapologetics.org, empiresandmangers.blogspot.com), and co-founder of etcetera, a "street-level philosophy group" in Traverse City, Michigan.

Worldview and Culture: The Stories That Shaped Us in 2014

hands raised by the crowd at a live music concertAs this year wraps up, I offer the following retrospective on some of the more popular entertainment in 2014. It’s not an exhaustive list, and I don’t necessarily recommend everything on it. It’s simply meant to provide insight into the cultural stories that are reflecting and/or shaping a lot of worldviews, particularly those of a young adult audience. Though some of the authors or directors on the following list do not approach life from a Christian perspective, they are all storytellers who wrestle with some of the most profound questions in life. Hopefully, entering into these stories will better equip us to understand the times and know what to do (1 Chronicles 12:32).

FOUR  BOOKS (or series) WORTH NOTING

1) Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series offers one of the best YA stories I have read. Maberry offers great characters, intense story lines, philosophy, ethics, honor, love, and sacrifice embedded in books that will make you reset your alarm. It’s pretty grim – it is a zombie apocalypse – but it’s also saturated with goodness and hope. If my boys grow up to be like Tom Imura, I will be well pleased. Not surprisingly, the series is on its way to the big screen. [Read more…]

Dracula Untold

Dracula Untold looks to do for Dracula what Maleficent did for its title character. What if there is more to Dracula than we thought? dracula-untold-poster1What if he is a hero (albeit a problematic one)? Dracula Untold suggests that he is just that – a misunderstood monster who has become what he is for love. And make no mistake, Vlad the Impaler is a monster.

His childhood is tragic. He and 999 other kids were impressed into the service of the Sultan of Turkey, who brutally turned them into killers devoid of moral or a conscience. Vlad eventually made his reputation by impaling entire villages of people (much like the real Vlad, who apparently skewered 20,000 people – in one day).

When the film begins, he has apparently put that behind him. He’s now a prince of Transylvania, a tribute country of Turkey. He has a beautiful wife and child and a populace who believes in him. When the Turks return and ask for another 1,000 kids, he’s not about to let that happen. Unfortunately, his army is vastly outnumbered. If he is going to save his people, he needs the kind of power that brings armies to its knees. [Read more…]

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner took the YA world by storm in 2009, winning the New York State Charlotte Award, the Kentucky Bluegrass The_Maze_Runner_coverAward, the Oregon Reader’s Choice Award the New Hampshire Isinglass Teen Read Award, the Missouri Truman Readers Award, the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Award , the Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award, the Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award, the Georgia Peach Book Award , and the New Jersey Garden State Book Award. Dashner went on to write three more books in the series: The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and a prequel called The Kill Order.

As much as I enjoyed The Maze Runner, I grew increasingly uneasy as I read the remaining books. Please be aware there will be all kinds of spoilers as I offer some thoughts about the series.

A boy named Thomas wakes up in a village populated solely by other teenage boys. He doesn’t know who or where he is. He learns they all live in the middle of a maze that changes every day. Runners go out every morning attempting to map the maze, then return every night before mechanical monsters kill them (or at least make them wish they were dead). Somehow the maze is important, but no one knows why. [Read more…]

The 5th Wave: I Am The Battlefield

“I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless16101128 hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running, not staying, but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.” – Yancey’s favorite quote from The 5th Wave

Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave has received starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus, the New York Times and Goodreads both listed it as one of the best YA books of 2013, Entertainment Weekly thinks it might be “the next big thing,” and Sony Pictures is currently in the process of bringing this book to the big screen. The much anticipated sequel, The Infinite Sea, is being released today.

The 5th Wave is an ambitious alien invasion story written for both YA and adult audiences, packing not just one but five extinction events into one book. Aliens have been waiting patiently for decades to take over east, infusing their essence into unborn babies and lying dormant until the right time for an invasion. They begin their attack with Four Waves of disasters that obliterate most of humanity. The embedded aliens manifest in their human hosts to infiltrate – and then eradicate – the remnant of humanity in a decisive 5th Wave of human/alien hybrid assassins. These Silencers have brought the sucker punch. Up to this point, humanity had feared the aliens. Now they have to fear themselves. [Read more…]

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Comics is on a roll. Guardians of the Galaxy opened with a stunning $94 million dollar weekend, breaking the previous Guardians-of-the-Galaxy2August record for a movie opening. In spite of bewilderment within the entertainment industry leading up to its release (there was in interesting discussion about this on Rotten Tomatoes’ podcast), critics and audiences have been giving it well-deserved reviews.

It’s funny, surprisingly moving at time, and loaded with great special effects. It’s not perfect (it’s got some crude language, and the scope and severity of the violence was minimized and at times too light-hearted), but as far as summer blockbusters go, it’s very good. I was certainly entertained. I was equally challenged by a thought-provoking scene near the end of the movie.

When Peter Quill, aka Starlord, realizes that he finally has a chance to stop running from hardship and do something truly noble, he tells the other soon-to-be guardians of the galaxy what he has in mind. Rocket soberly summarizes what is painfully clear to all of them: “You’re asking us to die.” [Read more…]