Author Archives: Charity

About Charity

Charity loves to discuss theology and write books. You can find out more about her passion projects at

The Secret Sisters

I was browsing the CD selection at my favorite thrift store when I accidentally discovered a new favorite group. It was one of those “inspired by” albums that had caught my eye. You know the type—compilations of songs inspired by a particular movie, show, etc. This one was The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond. I’m not even a Hunger Games fan, but I already loved one song on the track-list, so I tried the rest of them out. I wanted to taste a little more of that dystopian folk feeling I’d sampled before, so, I figured, why not?

Musical duo The Secret Sisters contributed “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” to the album. The first time I heard it, I knew I’d love it for a long time. It’s exactly my kind of song: simple, lilting, slightly melancholic, and textured. Inspired by this new find, I explored the team’s YouTube channel in search of more tunes. The Secret Sisters, I learned, really are sisters. They perform a unique type of music that seems inspired in equal measure by a variety of genres: Folk. Country. 1940s/50s dance. Bluegrass. Hymns. Whatever its exact specification, I love it, because it never stays the same thing for too long. All their music sounds cohesive, but there is variety too.

Many of their songs are fairly dark: several deal with severe familial dysfunction, buried crimes, and, as one might expect, heartbreak. In certain offerings, such as “Iuka” and “Mississippi,” there’s a distinct Bonnie and Clyde aesthetic going on. Others, like “Carry Me” and the aforementioned “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder,” are gentle, soothing, urgent reminders of hope. In the romantic department, the Sisters jump from the sassy self-actualization of “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “You Don’t Own Me Anymore” to the wistful long-suffering of “Something Stupid” and “To All the Girls Who Cry.”

Whatever the range of topics they explore, the duo usually lets faith and heritage under-gird each record, typically in brief and unobtrusive ways. Several of their albums end on traditionally religious notes, with ballads like “House of Gold” and “Flee as a Bird.” And occasionally they’ll break from the somewhat heavy themes that characterize most of their music, as with the nostalgic and unabashed celebrations of their Southern upbringing found in “Little Again” and “King Cotton.”

From a technical standpoint, the women’s vocals are excellent. Their harmonies are elegant and spot-on; and, though their voices are distinct, it’s equally pleasurable to hear either of them sing individually. Neither appears to be the stronger musician, and it’s refreshing to see a duo that shares the balance of vocal power, playing to each other’s strengths.

I love The Secret Sisters. I love the sound of their music; I love its steeped-in-Americana soul. I love the authenticity, timeliness, and circumspection that the lyrics convey. They came to me at the right time and I’m grateful for it. If you’re ever in need of fresh music that will unsettle even as it calms you, I highly recommend them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Olivia R. is an aspiring author, story enthusiast, and current college student. She can be found at Meanwhile in Rivendell, where she blogs about books, movies, television, and assorted odds and ends.

Let It Be: How Yesterday Fails to Change History

What would our world look like if the Beatles had never existed?

That’s the question the movie Yesterday (2019) promises to explore; and I think we can all agree, it’s a fascinating one. By the end of the movie, though, this promise falls flat, when the film’s answer to “what would the world look like without the Beatles?” turns out to be, “basically… the same?”

Allow me to explain.

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Over the Rainbow

During the Great Depression and WWII, the American people flooded to the cinema. For a few hours, a movie could take them away from their troubles, transporting them some place enchanted, where there was no economic depression or war. Love, endurance, and goodness always triumphed. 1938 saw the production of the Technicolor musical The Wizard of Oz. Home, love, and overcoming adversities were a few of the overarching themes. The magical adventure of Dorothy Gale and her friends fighting against The Wicked Witch and searching for their heart’s desires struck a chord with audiences. The songs in the movie are memorable, but one stands out from all the others. And eighty years later, the song “Over the Rainbow” continues to touch lives.

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The Forgotten Sister: Anne Brontë

“But he that dares not grasp the thorn, should never crave the rose.”—Anne Brontë

The other Brontë. The forgotten Brontë. The quiet, religious, boring younger Brontë sister. Such are the descriptions used regarding Anne Brontë, the baby sister of Charlotte and Emily, the queens of Gothic romance. For decades, Anne was a footnote in her sister’s lives, rarely mentioned and never appreciated for her genius until recently. Despite early attempts by Charlotte to stifle its popularity, we now hail her second novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as one of the first feminist novels. However, Anne published an earlier novel called Agnes Grey. It is the tale of a poor, plain governess who finds love and fulfills her dreams. She wrote it before her sister wrote Jane Eyre. It closely paralleled Anne’s experiences, except it has a happy ending.

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Sherlock Holmes: The Shadow in the Window

As thin shadows swayed across my window blind, my fingers clutched the book to my chest. My throat muscles convulsed, and the blood trapped in my veins by the shock suddenly thundered on, rushing heat through my body.

It was him… the creeping man.

This was my first identifiable memory as a Sherlock Holmes fan.

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The House that Wharton Built

An individual’s preferences in entertainment, be it films, television, books, or music, are obviously deeply personal and varied. Everyone brings unique experiences to bear on how they receive a particular story. There are also times when a book or film can come along and capture you even though one or more elements of it are not what typically pleases you the most. Such was my experience with The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Despite a lead character who differs greatly from me and its tragic ending, The House of Mirth still impressed me as an excellent, impactful narrative.

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Persistence and Patience: Jane Austen’s Persuasion

When I was seventeen, my parents gave me a set of four Jane Austen paperbacks in a little slipcover case for my birthday or Christmas, I forget which. Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion. I’d seen movie versions of the first three by then, but not of Persuasion. I read the other three first I think—it’s a hard to remember, twenty years later. Persuasion was the only one of Austen’s books my mom hadn’t read before, so she couldn’t tell me much about it either. I had to go into it not knowing anything but the blurb on the back cover.

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The Motifs of Pan’s Labyrinth

Previously, I’ve written articles about another of del Toro’s films, The Shape of Water, and touched on his adaptations of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy series. But I’ve never written about my favorite Guillermo del Toro story, Pan’s Labyrinth. I believe it’s the perfect combination of del Toro’s stylistic and literary motifs. Massively inspired by fairy tales and myths, Pan’s Labyrinth follows the story of Ofelia, a girl who moves to a remote military outpost with her pregnant mother to join her new army captain stepfather. Soon after her arrival, Ofelia discovers a secret about herself and so begins her adventure.

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