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About Cherish Nelson
Cherish Nelson is an Associate Professor of Humanities at Kankakee Community College and the communications director at Kankakee Asbury United Methodist Church. She has a B.A. in English from Olivet Nazarene University and an M.A. in Apologetics from Houston Baptist University. She is a contributor to the literary apologetics journal An Unexpected Journal. Her apologetic work examines the theology of horror, the problem of evil, and theology in pop culture.
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Titles By Cherish Nelson
It is in the deepest darkness that light shines most brightly. For this reason, dystopian stories are often an effective channel to communicate the good news of the Gospel. Our worst failings illustrate the transformation of the Holy Spirit most clearly. We cling most tightly to hope in times of deepest despair.
This collection of essays and first release short stories illustrates the journey dystopian stories take us on, highlighting the problem, the answer, and redemption.
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
What Makes a Superhero?
Superheroes captivate our cultural imagination. From reading comic books in our childhood bedrooms to watching the latest blockbuster on the silver screen, we long to see the champion defeat the villain and ultimately rescue the world from certain destruction. Though the stories may be fantastical, our desires are not. Our hearts are drawn to superheroes because we want someone to triumph over evil and save the world. This issue of An Unexpected Journal proposes that just maybe our desires have already been fulfilled.
- Jesse W. Baker: "The Power of Weakness" on Questions of Violence
- Donald W Catchings, Jr.: "He Will Rise" on Nolan's Salvific Themes
- Annie Crawford: "Super-Women and the Price of Power" on Gendered Superheroes
- Joseph Holmes: "Superhero Movies are Worship, Not Theme Parks" on the Attraction of Superhero Movies
- Christy Luis: "Ex-Cult Member Saved by Grace" on the Dangers Of False Heroes
- Jason Monroe: "Answering Joker’s Dark-Knight-Defying Anarchy" on Competing Worldviews
- Seth Myers: "Global Superheroes from the Disneyverse and Studio Ghibli" on Heroism Manifested around the World; "Once a Prince or Princess: MacDonald’s Moral Superheroines and Heroes in the Princess Tales" on Ordinary Heroic Actions; and "Planets, Poetry, and the Power of Myth in Halo and Destiny" on the Apologetic Power of Video Games
- Annie Nardone: "Just a Sidekick?" on the Importance of Support
- Cherish Nelson: "Person or Persona: What's Inside the Spider-Verse?" on Plantinga's Conception of the Multiverse
- Megan Joy Rials: "Diana Prince, Apologist? Salvation and the Great Commission in Wonder Woman" on an Unlikely Apologist
- Jason M. Smith: "Worth Reading" on Some Good Starting Points
- James M. Swayze: "Superheroes, Saviors, and C.S. Lewis" on Epic, Myth, and Human Longings
- John P. Tuttle: "Humility Contra Pride as Represented in Thor (2011)" on the Superiority of Virtue
- Clark Weidner: "Faith on Trial in Frank Miller’s Daredevil Comics" on Questions of the Greater Good
About the Cover
We are all looking for a hero, someone to battle monsters that threaten. A hero can battle the monsters without, but only the Superhero can conquer the monster within.
An Unexpected Journal
Volume 4, Issue 2
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
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.