The Real Story of St. Nicholas and the True Meaning of Christmas

When I wandered into the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor recently, a special showing of Miracle on 34th Street dampened my Christmas spirit. I plopped down in one of the old theater’s restored Beaux Arts seats during the scene where Santa explains The True Meaning of Christmas to a Macy’s janitor. Santa launches into a … Continued


Why More Summer Blockbusters Should be Like M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Signs’

An original summer blockbuster told on a personal scale that explicitly challenges a nihilistic worldview while delivering genuine thrills and conveying a singular directorial vision is nearly nonexistent in today’s cinema. The rise of the global box office and the astronomical escalation of production and marketing costs have impelled studios toward excessive risk aversion. Personal, … Continued


Gravity and the Search for Meaning

The top-grossing movie in the United States this month has been Gravity, a fictional account of astronauts stranded hundreds of miles above the ground and trying to survive and find a way back home. A big part of the movie’s success can be chalked up to the presence of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

Finding Joy at Work and Maximizing Your Time

Spring cleaning usually brings up images of bleach and dust rags, but this spring, I’m cleaning up how I spend my time with the help of time-management author Laura Vanderkam. A few years back, Vanderkam wrote 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, a terrific guide to figuring out where your time really … Continued


Why Have Kids? They Make Life Meaningful

by Mark Tapson No sooner had I cleaned my seven-week-old daughter’s poop off my lap the other day (don’t ask) than my two-year-old tried and failed to empty a jug of milk into a teacup she had perched atop a stack of art books (you have to understand what a book fetish I have to … Continued

Culture, Parenting

There’s More to Life Than Being Happy

In my latest piece for the Atlantic, “There’s More to Life Than Happiness,” I write about a new study that examines the difference between a happy life and a meaningful life. People who live happy lives tend to be more selfish and “taking” than people who live meaningful lives, who tend to be selfless and “giving.” Interestingly, having … Continued