Hey New York! Come See Me Yap About Catholicism & Art & the Body, This Thursday!

It'll be a neat little "interview" on the topic, "Christianity Is the Most Materialistic of All Religions." Hosted by the Crossroads Cultural Center, from 7 - 8 pm. Bring friends! For more info, and also the best photo of me taken since high school, click here. … [Read more...]

“Meet the Monks Who Spend Their Lives Praying for Ireland’s Priests”: Crux

feature: Prayer, reparation, and praising God are the focus of a new Benedictine priory in Ireland, which focuses especially on reparation for the sins of priests.“It was never our predetermined plan to come to Ireland,” Silverstream Priory’s Father Benedict Anderson, O.S.B., told Catholic News Agency. “But we believe that, through circumstances that we could never have foreseen, Divine Providence placed us here to play some sort of role, however modest, in the life of the Irish Church. … [Read more...]

Settling Accounts With Torturers

I recently finished A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers, Lawrence Wechsler's 1990 reports on post-dictatorship attempts at truth-telling and justice-seeking in Brazil and Uruguay. Wechsler is mostly an excellent writer; the book is really well-paced and there are sharp little descriptions ("his commanding wreck of a voice") and insightful uses of poetry. The afterword is overwritten but mostly Wechsler restrains the ego-driven need to assure his readers that he knows what … [Read more...]

“Piety and Hunger”: Nice intro essay on “Kristin Lavransdatter”

why not start your journey w/Kristin during Lent? Undset was an obsessive researcher, and her 14th-century Norway has texture down to the dirt of the smithy floor. She captures annual agricultural rhythms of shortage and plenty, obscure ecclesiastical laws governing punishments for adultery, and the way the men douse themselves in ice water to sober up for church after Christmas festivities. Her descriptions of food, decor, and clothing are precise: the way Kristin strews juniper and flowers on … [Read more...]

The Viscerally Satisfying “Get Out”: My review

for America magazine: Rarely have I seen a movie audience as viscerally satisfied as the audience with whom I saw “Get Out,” the new horror-comedy written and directed by Jordan Peele of the comedy duo Key and Peele. I saw “Get Out” in a downtown D.C. theater on a Saturday night, amongst a big and mostly black crowd, drawn in by the promise of a horror movie where the villain is racism.You could describe several previous horror films that way. Think “White Zombie” or, to a lesser extent, “Ni … [Read more...]

“Grandfather Had Fangs”: I review an Estonian satirical novel

at AmCon: Kivirähk is well-known in his native Estonia. Snakish is his crossover novel, winning the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, lending its name to a board game, and, in 2015, becoming the first of his books to be translated into English. It’s a wild ride, full of twists and violent incident. The mordant fairytale tone will please fans of Angela Carter. Snakish is a novel about decline and fall, the passing of a way of life—or rather, it’s a novel about several conflicting narratives of decline. … [Read more...]

“Their Wives and Their Wealth Have Made Them So Mute”: Reading Waugh’s biographies of Campion & Knox

Recently finished Two Lives, which encloses in one volume Evelyn Waugh's biographies of St Edmund Campion, a martyr of the English Reformation, and Ronald Knox, a semirandom priest. You should absolutely read the Campion biography. It's passionate and the prose hangs in garlands, with thorns tipped in blood. It isn't swoony or silly (like the sentence I just wrote), it isn't sentimental or polemical although this is Waugh so he does stick a shiv in occasionally; in general it's crisp and acrid, … [Read more...]