“When the Neighborhood Changes”: Matthew Loftus

covers a lot of ground quickly: [Baltimoreans] have good reason to be afraid. Some places are using “artwashing” — the practice of drumming up the art scene in a neighborhood or building to drive out lower-income residents in preparation for higher-income tenants — to advance gentrification. Indeed, much of New Urbanism hinges on “reviving” blighted areas of a city with more upwardly mobile residents, with long-term residents simply not included at least and deliberately opposed at worst. A neig … [Read more...]

Bluff Your Way Out of the European Economic Community

Or, What did Brexit look like in 1988?Months ago, in the halcyon days of May, I was browsing the cheap shelves at Second Story when I came upon Bluff Your Way in the EEC. This is part of the Bluffer's Guide series, overgrown pamphlets designed to teach '80s people how to pretend they understand things like Philosophy, Accountancy, Feminism, Jazz, Japan, The Occult, and "Hi-Fi" (??). I grabbed this thing and a saint-of-the-day guide from I think the early '70s, which turned out to be a really … [Read more...]

“To Paradise, By Way of Kensal Green”: I review “The English Way”

for the University Bookman. Papist polemics, monks with painted eyelids, "apostolic viragoes" and more! You might expect a book called The English Way: Studies in English Sanctity from Bede to Newman, compiled under the reign of King George V, to rustle through the fingers like a necklace of finely-wrought gold. You might expect serenity, monumentality, harmony: a peaceable parade of right little, tight little saints.You might expect that, anyway, if you don’t remember much about English h … [Read more...]

I Think of You and Let It Go: Best Books I Read in 2016

Realized everybody's doing best-of-books in time for Christmas buying. I'll do a complete best-of post at the end of the year, but I'll be spending the rest of December gnawing through Alan Moore's vast, fascinating Jerusalem (review forthcoming), so I can be pretty sure this is my best-books list for the year. Fiction and lesser kinds of book mix here freely. Counting down, basically in order of how much they affected me personally:10. Charles Williams, Descent into Hell.9. Jessica … [Read more...]

DC/MD Catholics: Be a Church Companion for a Pregnancy Center!

Hey y'all. The pregnancy center where I volunteer has this excellent newish program of church referrals. Basically, we see a lot of women who were raised Christian or have some definite interest in finding a church, but who have a ton of worries and responsibilities to juggle so it's easy for the church hunt to get endlessly postponed. So we ask them a few questions about what they're looking for, and try to connect them with someone who can accompany them to a church--ideally, even picking them … [Read more...]

“Spirits, What Have You to Say?”: I watch “Ouija: Origin of Evil”

If you're interested in present-day portrayals of Vatican II-era Catholicism, it's pretty fascinating. If you're interested in haunted Ouija boards, not so much: I watched Ouija: Origin of Evil last night, and it was a pretty good flick. But I’m still a little confused about the Ouija board’s motivation.I watched the movie because of this article about Blumhouse, a horror-centered production company making “nuanced dramas about families, class, and morality — but instead of divorce or dysfun … [Read more...]

Will Heterosexuality and Anagrams Save Us from Tyranny?

So on Sunday I went to the Kennedy Center for a children's show, "Where Words Once Were." Cannot confirm the effect on actual children of this fable about totalitarian control of language, since the lad with whom I saw the play was (ironically) disinclined to offer his commentary. But the show offered a window into what our artists and teachers can and can't imagine.So here's the thing: It's probably a fine show, if heavy on the explanations. The look and feel is very "turquoise-gray … [Read more...]