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Alissa Wilkinson

Alissa Wilkinson is assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City, chief film critic at Christianity Today, and editor of QIdeas.org. Her work on pop culture, politics, art, and religion appears in publications including The Atlantic, Christianity Today, Books & Culture, Marginalia Review of Books, Relief, the Globe & Mail, WORLD, and Paste. In 2008, she founded The Curator and served as editor while on staff with International Arts Movement until 2010. Read More ›

Bio last modified September 1st, 2014.
Articles by Alissa Wilkinson
  • That Pesky Third Bit

    Alissa Wilkinson

    First: someone helpfully pointed out that this neatly aligns with that very popular quote from Frederich Buechner: "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." A worthy thing to keep in mind.

  • Vocation Takes Patience

    Alissa Wilkinson

    Whether this is because Millennials insist on instant results, or because they have been proselytized to pursue their dreams, Segovia's point is a good one. He says in his final paragraph: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • Pick Up Your Brush

    Alissa Wilkinson

    While Richter doesn't have a single cohesive style—though he returns to certain techniques over and over—he does have a single force behind his work that fascinated me. From the very beginning of his work, Richter has always been dialoguing with the past. The second room in the exhibit is dedicated to work that Richter produced after seeing a touring show of French bad-boy artist Marcel Duchamp, he of the urinal titled Fountain.

  • Generous Love

    Alissa Wilkinson

    This "insight" is completely obvious to anyone who is married. And it's hardly just for marriages. In a recent Forbes article, Erika Andersen astutely points out that this generosity is a vital quality that people look for in leaders, and in friends, too—in essence, any relationship. Again: no surprise here.

  • The Joyful One

    Alissa Wilkinson

    What's up with that? Why a pink candle? Here's the beautiful reason. The Advent season is a season of waiting and penitence—a bit like a mini-Lent. And so, three of the four candles are purple, which represents that penitential tone of the seasons.

  • Advent Peace

    Alissa Wilkinson

    I was thinking about peace, especially the idea of "peace time"—that is, the time when there are no violent conflicts in which we're directly engaged. To be honest, I don't know if we're in peace time or not down here in the U.S.—and not just because of the conflicts we're engaged in around the world, but because, well, there's a lot of unrest here.

  • Advent Hope

    Alissa Wilkinson

    Well, yesterday, Christians around the world lit the "hope" candle. Apt: most of us would agree that we all need a good injection of hope right now. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • Longing and restraint

    Alissa Wilkinson

    Though I grew up in a church that did light the candles in the Advent wreath on the Sundays leading up to Christmas, I didn't really understand the significance of the season until a few years ago. And so I've grown into the season since then. A few years ago, I posted this on another blog, and I think it merits repeating: .

  • Not What We Expected

    Alissa Wilkinson

    Why this interests me, as a 2001 homeschool grad who attended a small private Christian school for K-5, has a lot to do with the fact that (as Jamie Smith says in Desiring the Kingdom and Ashley Berner says in an article in our latest print issue of Comment) every pedagogy presupposes a philosophical anthropology—that is, every way we choose to educate stands on certain assumptions about human nature (which, in turn, have a lot to do with our religious beliefs and practices).

  • Shaming Us Into It

    Alissa Wilkinson

    On Monday, though, I was riding home on the D train in my usual attitude (leaning lightly against the door, nose in a book, and earbuds in place) when I heard a different message. It startled me enough that I took my earbuds out and listened. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • Against Squeezing

    Alissa Wilkinson

    The strange thing about reading a book for school when your schooling involves noticing the craft of writing is that you can't do that Mortimer Adler thing: reading for information. You're actually not reading for information, or at least that's not the main goal. You're reading for craft—reading to see how the sentences work, how the paragraphs fit together, how the themes braid themselves into the whole, how big abstract concepts become concrete examples.

  • Free speech, taken for granted

    Alissa Wilkinson

    But this weekend I found myself thinking about the protests while I was at a theatrical production in Brooklyn, near my home. The Kuwaiti-based theatre company Sabab was performing The Speaker's Progress, a sort of dark satire performed mostly in Arabic. In the world of the play, an unnamed totalitarian state has placed strict restrictions on things like how far apart men and women must stand (90 cm) and how long music may be played (10 seconds). Theatre is strictly banned, as it leads to all sorts of debauchery.

  • Digging In

    Alissa Wilkinson

    A few hours after class on Monday, I got an email from a student. I have a question, she said, that I wanted to ask when I was in class, but we ran out of time: What kind of person do you think actually does end up transforming culture? And, furthermore, what do people who make a difference in the world have in common? .

  • Left, Right, and Both

    Alissa Wilkinson

    On my cursory glance back over the material, I had first pitched my tent in the "transforming" camp, because that is certainly the place for good Kuyperians—people who believe God calls the church to join him, in all vocations, in transforming and renewing all of creation. Then I was re-reading, and thinking how sometimes, in some circumstances, I adopt the paradox model—which encourages us to recall that we live in the tension between Christ and culture, and that if we get too comfortable with the culture around us, we should take a hard look at our lives. And sometimes, especially when I'm celebrating how the church can lead and produce the best in culture, especially when I'm working in the arts, I think the "Christ above culture" model is the right one (and it reminds me why Catholics, who have often fit this typology, have been the most consistently faithful in aesthetics over the past few centuries). It's not that I'm changing my mind—it's that, as Stackhouse says, sometimes different people are called to different things at different times, for different purposes.

  • All Present or Nothing

    Alissa Wilkinson

    I am a sparse book-underliner, but this one is marked up, because Hall—best known as a poet; he was the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2006 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2010—drops lovely wise nuggets throughout that make you stop and pay attention. Just a small bit from near the end:

  • This age's big idea?

    Alissa Wilkinson

    I'll admit I'm tired of these types of pieces, a genre unto themselves throughout modern history—their ancestors probably are inscribed in hieroglyphics into a stone somewhere. It's similar to that anti-blogging rant I (ironically) blogged about a few weeks ago. As then, I want to say, okay, and what? .

  • Fruitfulness

    Alissa Wilkinson

    I'm a new student once again, having been accepted into the latest creative nonfiction cohort. Ahead is a two-year road of residencies and sending thick packets of creative work and annotations and papers to my mentors, and I'm relishing it, albeit with a gleam of trepidation in my eager eye. But that's not what I'm writing about here—plenty of time for that later.

  • A Brief Chat with Mako Fujimura on The Tree of Life

    Alissa Wilkinson

    The Tree of Life is more like what we often call "fine art"—painting, for instance, or orchestral compositions—than a traditional film that is driven by narrative, plot, character development, and dialogue (though these elements still exist). There is no passive viewing allowed when we're watching Malick's work: like fine art, it requires contemplation and a lot of investment of ourselves to understand it.

  • Rules for Reviewing Books

    Alissa Wilkinson

    I'd like to think that the three essentials for reviewers were invented by Aristotle, preserved by his students, and handed down for thousands of years by oral tradition. After all, before the review was an important category of journalism, before physical books, even before printing, readers must have asked other readers to report on works they had not yet read from scrolls or tablets. The three rules he gives us, pulled from that stylesheet of yore, are simple: .

  • Letters to the Future

    Alissa Wilkinson

    At the risk of being self-congratulatorily smug, I think we can agree that whether or not this is true—and a lot of pixels and maybe even some ink have been expended in the endless debate on this very point—the statement is mostly good for getting a lot of other bloggers to talk about it. Alex Massie responded by saying as much, then pointing out that, well, an awful lot of what's created wouldn't be missed if it disappeared.

  • Digital Downtime

    Alissa Wilkinson

    I've read dozens of articles that talk about how, for instance, Google might be making us stupid or being ultra-connected to the computer is probably a bad thing. Okay, I think—I don't really look at my laptop on weekends and make liberal use of Freedom to make sure I don't multitask too much. In college, someone told me that (all else being equal) it's actually better to study until 2am, then sleep for a few hours, than to get a good night's sleep until 5am and get up to study. The brain spends your sleeping hours turning knowledge into memory, so you'll actually do better cramming the night before and getting a little sleep.

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