Son: Why bother with the boring reading, the difficult thinking, the never-ending study and the tortuous editing -- why bother with work when a cup of coffee, a little luck and the right mood produces the best writing I've written?Father: Work is compost. It cannot make you great. It can only make you ready. It stinks, but in its stinking you'll become fertile soil for the seeds of inspiration contained in your coffee, your good mood and your rare moments of luck. … [Read more...]

How to Kill a Community: Lessons From Mediocre Rappers


NSFW, but neither is the fact that you're on this blog at work in the first place.Almost anything we can be proud to call American came from poverty. Jeans came from miners, bluegrass from the British immigrants of Appalachia, barbecue was popularized by impoverished Southern Blacks who couldn't afford expensive cuts of meat, and blues, jazz, and rock n' roll -- those uniquely American art forms I was so proud to hear playing in the bars of Budapest, Vienna, and Rome -- rose up from the … [Read more...]

Selling Our Sins


There is a tragic aura to the young man driving around my neighborhood in Steubenville, Ohio, pushing heroin out to "customers" at street corners, his barely drivable car decked out with "playboy" stickers, rims, window-tint, and a rusted-out body going into seizures with the bass of a song produced in California, repeating "it's all about the money." The tragedy is not that he is poor, but that he is very, very rich.Steinbeck says......and this sounds like a pleasant hurrah for American … [Read more...]

Objectifying Soccer Players Probably Won’t Help Fight Sexism

...Ronaldo, come on, you're embarrassing the Americans.

Amanda Hess' article for Slate, "Why it’s great to objectify World Cup players," is wonderful. In it, she argues that the hyperbolic and often hilarious "sexual gaze" at soccer players from Jezebel-esque journalists is calling out and offering a counter-balance to the over-sexualization of female athletes."These days, clicking through a slideshow of the world’s hottest female soccer players makes you look like a bit of a creep. But admiring the abdominals of male footballers? That just means … [Read more...]

Popes Should Resign More Often


There is an tendency amongst many Catholics to view the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI as a quirk, a historical aberration, something wild and crazy -- now let's get back to a "till death do you part" papacy, thanks. This, at least, was my attitude towards the whole affair for quite some time. But I wasn't listening to Benedict. The man didn't resign for personal reasons that may or not be repeated. He resigned for reasons that created a norm, an example to follow, an expectation -- a … [Read more...]

The Facebook Timeline and the Disintegration of Memory


The Jews said that idol-worshipers would become like their idols. Well, God save the Jews -- we are becoming our computers. We memorize less -- we "access" more. We "open files" on command, use them, and consign them to an oblivion from which they rarely arise.How heartbreakingly obvious this is in Internet "debates," wherein combox-combatants look up their arguments as they argue, google logical fallacies as they accuse each other of them, gathering evidence as it becomes necessary. It's … [Read more...]

Oh, for a beautiful memory!


Somewhere at the tail-end of trying to memorize a poem...there lives the dearest freshness deep down things......it strikes me that memory is not, contrary to popular description, "like storing information on a computer." Computer-storage is like whatever memory is.Computers store, but do not memorize, for our memories do not sit discreetly as Microsoft Word files in the corner of some tidied desktop, waiting to be accessed. They leaps into our hearts. They invade our minds, unasked … [Read more...]

Women Swiftly Running Out Of Things That Aren’t Sexy


I expect the world to go about its regular denigration of women -- I just wish members of the Church would stop helping them.Let's start with the basics. Women, and I have this on strict authority, are people. As such, they are sexual beings -- but not merely.The problem with our culture is its tendency to view women as merely sexual beings, a fact made painfully obvious by our nation's general inability to see a breast as anything but an object of sexual arousal.The problem with out … [Read more...]

Notes Regarding Sin, to be Read Sharply and Mockingly to Myself in Times of Desolation

"I cannot pray after so great a sin." And are you too ill to see a doctor? Too thirsty to drink? Too dirty to take a shower?*It is better to risk being seen as a hypocrite by praying after sin than to risk growing cold in God's arms by refusing to.*From the perspective of despair, sin is the end of prayer. From the perspective of hope, sin is the beginning. Christ stands on the side of hope when he describes the just prayer: "God, have mercy on me, a … [Read more...]

Facts, Facts, Facts!


"You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”  - Charles Dickens, Hard Times That human beings long to fly tells us far more about humanity than the fact that they walk on two legs. That teenagers daydream about the anarchy of a “zombie apocalypse” is a greater insight into their essential disposition than the fact that they use Facebook. A man is best known, not by what he has, but by what he dreams of having, for what he has is … [Read more...]