Lent Blockbuster: John Paul II’s Private Spiritual Diaries to Be Published Soon

The matter of privacy is especially dear to intellectuals. Milan Kundera, whom I mentioned in my post about the remarkable film Arrival, has a whole collection of essays surrounding this very topic. Testaments Betrayed is his book about the betrayals of the intentions of high modernist artists, many of them from Mitteleuropa, such as Kafka, Witold Gombrowicz, Picasso, Herman Broch (a favorite author, discovered thanks to Kundera), Heidegger, Stravinsky, and so on. It reads like a really good n … [Read more...]

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True Lent Humility Starts with the Realization That You’re Divine

 The first Sunday before Lent has an exotic name "Quinquagesima Sunday," which only means it's fifty days before Easter. As far as I know, correct me if I'm wrong, the first Sunday of Lent does not have a special name other than, maybe, "Quadragesima Sunday."This is strange, since all the readings on the first Sunday of Lent hone in on the mystery of Original Sin. The Gospel reading takes the dramatic crown by recounting Christ's temptation in the desert (breathlessly retold in one o … [Read more...]

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Extraterrestrials Aren’t a Threat to Theology, Because They Aren’t New to the Ancient Church

I'm completely enthralled with the question, "Is there anybody out there?" --Fr. Brian Reedy SJ The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration captured the attention and imagination of a global audience late last month when NASA scientists announced the discovery of seven planets orbiting a star dubbed TRAPPIST-1 (an acronym for Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope). These planets are a mere 40 light-years away from Earth, all of which are Earth-sized, and three of wh … [Read more...]

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Don’t Give Up For Lent

To the outsider the season of Lent might seem like an irrational outbreak of Pelagianism. Believers who come from the Catholic tradition, and the Protestant traditions which are rediscovering the ancient Catholic ascetic tradition, busy themselves with what they're going to give up for Lent. It all sounds like an Olympiad of will-to-power. The responses run something like, "I can't believe you're giving up X for Lent. I couldn't live without it for so long. You're so brave!"As I watch thi … [Read more...]

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Oscar Best Picture Nominee “Arrival” and the Bearable Heaviness of Being

Light is sweet; at sight of the sun the eyes are glad. However great the number of the years a man may live, let him enjoy them all, and yet remember that dark days will be many. --Qoheleth, in yesterday's Office of Readings Milan Kundera's novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being begins with a meditation on the concept of the eternal return of being. This idea sounds a lot like something you might read in the Book of Ecclesiastes. The modern version of this was first formulated by Nietzsche in … [Read more...]

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See You at Fordham’s Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination Conference?

You'd think that a religious imagination that can produce public intellectuals such as Dana Gioia, Ron Hansen, Alice McDermott, Mary Gordon, Micheal O’Siadhail, Philip Metres, Angela Alaimo O’Donnell in just one generation has a pretty bright future.This is the topic of The Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination conference that I'll be attending this April 27th through the 29th thanks to a generous grant.I'm really excited to be able to do this, since some of you remember that the Ca … [Read more...]

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Childlike Wonder in a Misbegotten World

Things are picking up speed here on Cosmos. Books are pouring in for review. This means I'll be lurching away from the sorts of pop culture posts that were trending last week on this blog. I'll only say that what's coming around the bend is something on theology and neuroscience.The most noteworthy book to come in is the following long-awaited Czeslaw Milosz biography by Andrzej Franaszek, which has the authoritative title Milosz: A Biography: Andrzej Franaszek’s award-winning biography of C … [Read more...]

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The Young Pope: The Second Coming of Brideshead Revisited?

In many ways, The Young Pope is the second coming of Brideshead Revisited.In the place of a millionaire with a teddy bear, we have a Pope with a pet kangaroo. Charles Ryder drinks champagne every afternoon; Lenny Belardo downs a Cherry Coke Zero every morning. The stately spires of Oxford have given way to the sumptuous splendor of Rome. And Papa Belardo can be as savagely witty as Waugh himself.[NOTA BENE: many of the links in this post lead to YouTube videos to give you an … [Read more...]

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February 14th is a Very Problematic Holiday For Many

Derrida liked to gleefully disseminate the news that the ancient Greek word for medicine (pharmakon) also means poison. Hearing that over and over in grad school got old quickly. It seemed like one of those nihilistic postmodernist word tricks (yay, you have a Greek dictionary!). But then I learned from Rene Girard that it can also be a scapegoat. Right about that same time, all unbeknownst to me (and you), the pharmaceutical industry was in the process of marketing an opiate epidemic to us. … [Read more...]

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The Stanford Memorial Resolution for René Girard

René Girard was one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. Catholics tend to get so caught up in their narratives of decline that they don't realize he was one of them.We have a bit of a scoop here in this post, because Girard's memorial resolution still hasn't been published on Stanford's memorial resolution website.The memorial resolution was delivered by Robert Harrison (known for my favorite podcast Entitled Opinions), and written by him and Girard's biographer Cynthia Ha … [Read more...]

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