C. M. Alvarez
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About C. M. Alvarez
Carla Alvarez is a mother to three and a graduate of HBU's Masters in Apologetics program. Her philosophy in both business and apologetics is if what we think affects what we do, then the "how" is just as important as the "what." As actions have a lasting impact, it is of utmost importance to develop right thoughts. She creates effective communications for clients at Legacy Marketing Services (www.legacymarketingservices.com) and writes about the Christian faith at RaisedtoWalk.org (www.raisedtowalk.org).
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Titles By C. M. Alvarez
About A Dish of OrtsGeorge MacDonald, considered the pioneer of the fantasy genre, had an impact on the mind and imaginations of some of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th century. C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and J.R.R. Tolkien all were greatly impacted by both MacDonald’s imaginative fiction as well as his sermons and social commentary.
At the hub of the English Victorian literary circles, MacDonald was friends with many of the literary luminaries of his day such as Poet Laureate Alfred Tennyson, William Thackeray, John Ruskin, as well as many others.. Lovers of Alice in Wonderland have George MacDonald to thank for its publication after Lewis Carroll (the pen name for C.L. Dodgson) was encouraged to publish the story after its enthusiastic reception by MacDonald's children.
MacDonald was so widely regarded, that upon his passing, G.K. Chesteron said of him, "George MacDonald was one of the three or four greatest men of the nineteenth century."
This great man is gone, but his works remain. A Dish of Orts is a collection of essays by George MacDonald on topics ranging from imagination to Shakespeare, from poetry to living the true Christian life. This new annotated edition bridges the gap for 21st century readers to MacDonald’s 19th century world.
Dragons: History, Myths, and LegendsGreedy, wicked, vengeful, powerful. Dragons occupy a powerful position in cultural imaginations across the world and across the years. From C.S. Lewis's boy who almost deserved to be named Eustace Clarence Scrubb to the Hydra of Greek mythology, these creature
- "Dargonish Thoughts in Our Hearts: Dragons as Mirrors of the Human": Junius Johnson on Our Internal Tension
- "Desolation": Donald Catchings on Joining the Fight and "Violence of Fire," a short story on a coming conflict.
- Excerpt from The Chaos Spiral: Adam Brackin on Dragons in the Bible
- "Wangerin and Wyrm": Christine Norvell on a Great and Cosmic Evil
- "A Tale of Two Dragons: Reflections on Corruption, Conviction, Grace, and Sacrament": Melissa Cain Travis on a Restoration of Humanity
- "The Cardinal": Jacqueline Wilson with a poem on a Loss of Humanity
- "Grathugar": George Scondras with a short story on a Glory-Seeking Knight
- "St George and the Dragon: Inspiration and Identity": W.H.G. Kingston on the Heroic Knight
- "Lewis’s Dragons and Materialism: A Reflection on Eustace Scrubb and Other Dragons": Clark Weidner on the Need for Imagination
- "Hercules and the Hydra": Alex Markos on a Christian Retelling
- "Dragons, Snakes and Demons: A Medieval and Biblical Bestiary for Modern Minds": Ted W. Wright on Dragons of History.
- "Job and His Dragon": Carla Alvarez on the Problem of Evil
- "The Forbidden Fountain": A short story by Azalea Dabill on a Dragon’s Poison
- "Nella Sua Voluntade": Elizabeth Martin on Challenging Dragonish Archetypes
- "Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant: The Dragon of False Memory": Tracey Leary on Reconciliation
- An Excerpt from Dragonslayer: Beginnings: Carey Green on Courage
- "The Dragon’s Demise: Experiencing Apocalypse": Jesse W. Baker on the Relevance of Revelation
.Cover ArtOur cover illustration was created by Chilean artist, apologist, and physician Virginia de la Lastra.
Volume 5, Issue 2
The Abolition of Man is a masterful commentary on objective truth and the dangers of relativism by the British scholar and apologist, C. S. Lewis. Composed in the middle of a world wracked by war and threatened by totalitarianism during the mid-twentieth century, Lewis warned against the ideologies leading to destruction which he saw creeping into his own society.
Lewis' warnings are particularly salient today. This collection of essays explores the truth Lewis offers and its applications in the current day.
C. M. Alvarez: "From The Green Book to The River: Lewis, Relativism, and Constructivism in Education." An essay illustrating the shortcomings of constructivism through Lewis' reflections in The Abolition of Man and "The River" by Flannery O'Connor.
Annie Crawford: "Searching the Stars." A reflection on the modern difference between quality and quantity.
Karise Gililland: "Dragons in Our 'Darkest Hours:' Slaying All Day the Lewis Way" on combating the dragon of sexual exploitation.
Seth Myers: "Lewis Among the Ancients and Moderns" and "The Abolition of Man as Sci-Fi: C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy"
Annie Nardone: "Creation," A poem on the majesty of the cosmos.
Zak Schmoll: "The Separation of Narnia and Tao." A commentary on the destruction of objective truth in The Last Battle of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Edward A. W. Stengel: "Will These Hands Ne'er be Clean? C. S. Lewis and the Apologetic Response to the themes of Macbeth" and the reality of human evil.
Rebekah Valerius: The Abolition of Students and the consequences of naturalism on campus.
Hannah Zarr: "The Death of Freedom" and the insuffiency of Nietzsche's innovation.
Where would a culture be without its heroes and their acts of courage? How can a society survive without strength and hope?
It is in the dark times and in moments of weakness that stories of courage and strength, those which promise hope, have the most value. This issue explores the redemptive power of stories and their ability to impact and transform.
C.M. Alvarez: "Hope, Life, and the Fountain of Trevi," a reflection on the enduring draw of the famous fountain; “Lava: "A Story of Love and Hope" on the deeper meanings found within the Pixar short; and "The Making of a Hero," a commentary on the forms of courage and an illustration of its development found in C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces and the film, Dear Frankie directed by Shona Auerbach.
Karise Gililland: "Relict," a poem on the transition from bewildered suffering to active hope.
Lucas W. Holt: "The Adventures of Asher Svenson: Story One: The Secret Wood," a short story on the Mystery of the Forest.
Nicole Howe: "A Reason for Our Hope: The Role of Fairy Stories in Christian Apologetics," an essay on why fairy stories matter.
Jason Monroe: "The Lord of the Rings and Consolation Concerning Death" on the central theme of J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece.
Annie Nardone: "The Power in Pain" on the first-hand experience of pain.
Seth Myers:"Tales of Courage and Hope: Black Panther in Middle Earth and Narnia" on the connections from Oxford to Hollywood; and
"Tales of Courage and Hope: Hamilton in Middle Earth and Narnia, Part One and Part Two" on the connections from Oxford to Broadway.
Josiah Peterson: "The Homeric Versus the Christian Ideal of Man" on contrasting the nature of humanity.
Daniel Ray: "Courage in the Cosmos" on the boldness of our story.
Zak Schmoll: "The Heroism of the Ordinary in The Lord of the Rings" on the character of Samwise Gamgee.
Venturing to Worlds Unknown
Science fiction writers are our modern seers of sorts. Creating worlds that are not our own, they inspire us to look beyond and imagine “what if?” The summer edition of An Unexpected Journal explores the impact these world builders have had on our culture.
From the classic science fiction book The First Men in the Moon to modern sci-fi favorites from Brandon Sanderson, explore the what these stories say about us as a society and individually.
- "The Spiritual Borders of Sci-Fi: C.S. Lewis and A Voyage to Arcturus" by Jason Monroe.
- "Ghost" a science fiction short story by Alicia Pollard
- "Illustrating Faith" by Josiah Peterson on Christian faith in The Ransom Trilogy by C.S. Lewis
- “Gender, Not Sex: Presentation of Gender Roles in Lewis’s The Ransom Trilogy” by Annie Nardone on the harmonious relationship of masculinity and femininity.
- “Spacemen without Chests? Virtue and Technology in Star Trek and Dune” by Seth Myers on the relevance of C.S. Lewis in popular science fiction.
- Gremlins and the Second Way” by C.M. Alvarez on creation and causation.
- "To Infinity and Beyond" by Douglas LeBlanc on how science fiction can improve our understanding of God.
- "Time Travelers." a science fiction poem by Laurie Grube
- "The Autumn People" an essay by Megan Joy Rials on the way science fiction illustrates goodness, sacrifice, and community illustrated in Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.
- “Materialism and Midichlorians: Pantheism, Naturalism, and Hope in Star Wars” by Zak Schmoll on the apologetic value of a galaxy far, far away.
- "Imagining Morality" by Sean Hadley on moral development in speculative fiction.
- "Excerpt from Note to Self" by Donald W. Catchings, Jr. An exclusive preview of a chapter of his upcoming time travel science fiction novel.
- "Starsight Review" by Christy Luis on the need for philosophical depth found in the work of science fiction writer Brandon Peterson.
- “The Ethics of The Matrixby C.M. Alvarez the dangers of relativism illustrated in The Matrix.
- "What Makes Us Human?" A reflection and poem by Annie Nardone.
- "Personhood in Altered Carbon" by Cherish Nelson on the dangers of diminishing bodies."
- "To Save a Life" by Zak Schmoll on finding resolution in Ender's Game.
Celebrating the Ancients
From before the time of Christ, pagan philosophers and storytellers have been influencing thought and shaping culture. In this issue dedicated to the ancient philosophers that formed the foundation of Western culture, we examine the way Christian thought was influenced by and engaged with those early writers and how the Jewish Messiah fulfilled the best hopes raised by what C.S. Lewis referred to as the "good dreams of the pagans."
- C.M. Alvarez: "The Power of the Storyteller: Jesus and Aesop" on the ancient tales that changed the world.
- Jesse W. Baker: "Listening to the Past" on the value of the Ancients.
- Donald W. Catchings, Jr.: "The Chain-Breaker in Plato's Allegory" on escaping the cave, and an excerpt from the novelette, Strength in Weakness, a retelling of Theseus.
- Annie Crawford: "Wisdom Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us: Pagan Dreams of the King of Kings" on Christian virtues and philosopher-kings.
- Riz Crescini: "The Imaginative Strategy of Boethius" on the apologetic power of the imagination.
- Joshua S. Fullman: "A Galatian Marriage / Nasoni" on pagan morals and aesthetics.
- Karise Gililland: "Sede Vacante" on the Fall of Man.
- Douglas LeBlanc: "Vengeance is Mine, Saith Everyone" on societal and personal judgment.
- Alex Markos: "The Return of the Kings: Comparing the Homecoming of Odysseus and the Two Comings of Christ" on the tension between love and wrath, and "Persephone" on Christian re-imagination.
- Louis Markos: "In Defense of Hospitality and Storytelling" on the rules of xenia.
- Seth Myers: "Till They Have Faces: Lewis's Psyche Meets the Modern Helen of Troy and Circe" on different perspectives on ancient stories.
- Cherish Nelson: "The Nicomachean Ethics and the Enemy Within" on horror, power, and self-control.
- Annie Nardone: "Oh Brother: A Bluegrass Odyssey" on ancient morality, values, and spirituality.
- Zak Schmoll: "Pius Samwise: Roman Heroism in The Lord of the Rings" on Virgil and Tolkien's chief heroes.
- Jason M. Smith: "Worth Reading: The Ancients" with a list of suggestions on where to begin to read the ancient philosophers, and a review of After Humanity by Michael Ward.
- Ted Wright: "Drinking from the Well of the Past: A Reflection on the Role of History in Literature & Philosophy for the Modern World" on the function of history.
- Iris Zamora: "Ancients of Old," a poem celebrating the thinkers of days gone by.
Volume 4, Issue 3
Cover illustration by Virginia De La Lastra
A Garden of Medieval Minds
The medieval period was a time of greats: great courage, great words, great light, and great darkness. The writers, philosophers, and artists of the time still touch and influence our lives today.
This volume celebrates these masterpieces that merged the physical and the spiritual into meaningful, incandescent truth.
- C.M. Alvarez: “Death, Grief, & Hope in Pearl” on progressing through grief as illustrated in the Gawain poet’s medieval poem Pearl.
- Donald W. Catchings, Jr.: “The Dream of the Crown,” a medieval inspired poem on the piercing of Christ’s brow and “Chronological Snobbery: In Reply to Contemporary Petrarchs” on valuing the past.
- Annie Crawford: “Hogwarts in History: The Neo-Medieval Vision of Harry Potter” on our love of the medieval and “Cosmos” on holy wonder.
- Alison Delong: “A Call to Lament: An Apologetic Study of the Anglo-Saxon Elegies” on comprehending struggle and responding to it.
- Karise Gililland: “Wearing One’s Habits: Aristotle, Aquinas, and the Making of a Virtuous Man” on the ancient and medieval views on cultivating goodness and “The Quest of the Golden Queen,” a heroic poem on the Lady and the dragon.
- Sandra G. Hicks: “Death and Redemption for the Modern Heart: What We Can Learn from the Anglo-Saxon Elegy” on Christ, the Warrior-King illustrated in the medieval elegy, “The Wanderer.”
- Alex Markos: “Christ, Our Hero at Calvary: Meaning and Metaphor in Beowulf and ‘The Dream of the Rood’” on understanding the resurrection.
- Korine Martinez: “An Unlikely Witness” on the perspective of the cross illustrated in The Dream of the Rood.
- Jacqueline Medcalf: “The Book of Kells,” a medieval influenced poem on seeing a wonder.
- Seth Myers: “Dante for Moderns” on serving our fellow man and “Francis of Assisi” on medieval relevance.
- Annie Nardone: “The Venerable Bede: Following the Medieval Christian Footpath” on preserving history and “Thomas Aquinas: Understanding Evil” on darkness and life.
- Cherish Nelson: “The Gravity of Sin: Truth in the Grotesque in Dante’s Inferno” on the depths of evil.
- Holly Ordway: “Memento Mori: A Reflection on ‘The Ruin’” on the question of progress.
- Ted Wright: “Hagia Sophia and the Evidential Power of Beauty: Divine Architecture as Apologetics” on truth in stone.
About the Cover
Our cover illustration was provided by Chilean artist, apologist, and physician Virginia De La Lastra depicting the vibrant imagery of medieval illuminations. Vigorous and verdant green life battles against the dragons symbolizing evil, while the peacocks give the promise of the hope and power of the resurrection.
Volume 3, Issue 3
J.R.R. Tolkien was the British author who fired the imagination of a generation with his beloved works: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
In this collection of essays, short stories, and poems, we explore the magic of Tolkien’s works that defined high fantasy and illustrate the underlying Christian themes that are so essential to the joy his work brings.
C.M. Alvarez: "Melchizedek, Bombadil, and the Numinous in The Lord of the Rings," an essay on the parallels between the mysterious figures found in the Bible and The Lord of the Rings and what they represent.
Donald W. Catchings, Jr.: "The Hero from Bagshot Row," a poem dedicated to the heroism of Sam in The Lord of the Rings.
Annie Crawford: "Courage at the Crossroads" on how the journey of the Fellowship illustrates the truth of the Gospel message.
S. Dorman: "The Common Good in Tolkien's Rural Communities," an essay on the importance of community drawing from illustrations in The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien and In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World by Jake Meador.
Karise Gililland: "One Theme to Rule Them All," an essay on a collection of Catholic essays in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Korine Martinez: "Awakening Joy," an essay on the Christ-inspired joy which infuses The Lord of the Rings
Seth Myers: "Tolkien and Miyazaki: Princess Mononoke and The Lord of the Rings in Conversation," an essay on the fight against evil in The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien and the animated film, Princess Mononoke.
Annie Nardone: "Finishing Well," an essay on purpose as illustrated in "Leaf by Niggle;" "The Finished Work," a sonnet based on "Leaf by Niggle;" and "A Passage to Something Better," an essay on death in The Lord of the Rings.
Josiah Peterson: "Supernatural Words" on the importance of language in the creation of Tolkien's Middle-earth.
George Scondras: "Melkor and Illuvatar" on the Christian hope in The Silmarillion.
Zak Schmoll: "The Beauty of a Growing Friendship," an essay on the importance of fellowship and community illustrated in The Lord of the Rings and a book review on An Encouraging Thought
Clark Weidner: "Tom Bombadil: The Value of an Enigma," an essay on the importance of mystery.
Donald T. Williams: "Loth Lorien" and "To J.R.R. Tolkien, poems inspired by Tolkien's work.
About An Unexpected Journal
An Unexpected Journal is a quarterly publication that presents the truth of Christianity using reason and imagination.
Spring 2020, Volume 3, Issue 1
How to overcome worry and fear is a question many are asking today. With fear and anxiety at epidemic levels, it can be easy to think that Jesus's promise to give a "peace that passes all understanding" is wishful thinking.
It is time to reframe and refocus. In the course of the 7-day devotional, core fears are identified and a Scriptural response given. Reflections for each day help disarm the fear and claim the victory in Christ.
Included is a 30-day workbook to track your progress as you walk into your new life living in the peace of God.
The Impact of Film and Music
Film and music are the language of modern culture. What messages are being conveyed in the movies and songs we love? An Unexpected Journal explores the truths embedded within popular media.
- "Serenity and the Theodicy of Joss Whedon" by C.M. Alvarez: An exploration of the themes of evil, free will, and the power of love in the 2005 film.
- "On Judging Movies" by Daniel Asperheim: A guide on film criticism and judging true value in movies.
- "A Sonnet to Music: The Language of the Soul" by Donald W. Catchings, Jr.: a poem on the beauty of music.
- "The Function of Absolute Music for Religious and Non-religous Minds" by Will Daniels: a reflection of the value and purpose of music focusing on the work of Johann Sebastian Bach.
- "Where are All the Great Christian Film?" by Joseph Holmes: A survey of the existing landcape in Christian filmmaking and suggestions for improvement.
- "The Value of Smuggled Theology in Music" by Sheila Krygsheld: an examination of the way music conveys meaning and deeper truths.
- "In Page and Film: Visions of Virtue in Harry Potter" by Roger Maxson: an analysis of the virtues illuminated in the Harry Potter series.
- "Lewisvaldi" by Seth Myers: a poem celebrating the joy of summer reflecting the work of C.S. Lewis.
- "Who Authors the Authority? A Discussion of Watchmen and Rightful Rule" by Jason Monroe: an examination of Watchmen's critique of authority.
- " Twenty Øne Piløts: In the Trenches " by Annie Nardone: on finding significance and meaning in modern music.
- "C.S. Lewis, Myth, and Filmmaking" by Timothy Nargi, Jr.: a reflection on the ability of C.S. Lewis to convey theological messages in his fiction and its implicatiaon for modern filmmaking.
- "Bridging the Gap" and "A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Persistence of Hope" by Zak Schmoll:
- "The Witch and the Horror of Eternal Consequences" by Philip Tallon and Cameron McAllister: an examination of the way the portrayal of real evil in films provides real life lessons.
- "Analyzing the Fact/Value Dichotomy in Ready Player One: The Movie" by Charlotte B. Thomason: an analysis of the movie as a social commentary and cautionary tale.
- "Narnia Adapted to Film: the Triune Dance" by Kyoko Yuasa: a reflection of Lewis's search for the dance of the Triune in art.
- "Comedy-Drama in Film: Caught Between Good Friday and Easter Sunday" by Hannah Zarr: a reflection on the way dramedy helps viewers better perceive a Christian view of reality.
Cover art by M.A. Listz
Volume 2, Issue 2, Summer 2019
The Power of Imagination
Our imaginations are often treated as relics of our childhood. We are told to grow up and leave that sense of awe and wonder behind. What if these modernistic tendencies were entirely wrong? What if we were meant to live enchanted lives, seeing the world with the joy and amazement?
This collection of essays, stories, and poems is meant to explore the power of the imagination and its unique connection to our human nature.
- "Imagination and Its Role in Faith" by C.M. Alvarez. An essay on how imagination open the mind to faith.
- "We Have Sinned and Grown Old: A Reflection on Imagination and Motherhood" by Nicole Howe. An essay on the innocence of youthful wonder.
- "Messiah" by Adam L. Brackin. A short story of a voyage to Paradise.
- "Awe" by Annie Nardone. A poem regarding a sense of wonder.
- "The Adventures of Asher Svenson, Story Two: A Feast of Fishes" by Lucas Holt. The second installment with the tale of Asher Svenson and his adventures at the seashore.
- "Reviving a Sacred Imagination" by Annie Crawford. An essay on the way reason and imagination are both necessary for discipleship.
- "Light in the Darkness" by Korine Martinez. A short story about striving against evil. Inspired by the true story of Charlotte Thomason.
- "Imagining Conversion" by Josiah Peterson. An essay regarding the way conversion stories change lives.
- "God, the Playwright" by Donald W. Catchings, Jr. A poem on the Gospel as an imaginative masterpiece.
- "The Armor of the Dragon: Chapter One - What Grew in the Garden" by Daniel Asperheim. A short story on the beginning of a magical adventure.
- "Re-Enchanting the World: A Tale of Two Paradigms" by Josh Herring. An essay on overcoming our modern disenchantment.
- "Celestial Rodeo" by Daniel Ray. A short story on the importance of humility.
- "The Imaginative Power of Sub-Creation" by Zak Schmoll. An essay reflecting on why we love Tolkien's stories.
Cover art by Virginia de la Lastra
Take a fresh look at the death and resurrection of Christ in this devotional and guided study integrating apologetic pieces from An Unexpected Journal in a 10-day reflection on Holy Week.
Drawing from the traditions of both the Eastern and Western churches, Carla Alvarez connects the observance of the church, to the life of Jesus, and finally to the readers life today.