Fra Angelico and the Sex-Hating Church

A really rambling post.Now that my book is out I've been doing a lot of interviews, and in many of them I've been asked to tell my conversion story. A huge part of my conversion involved realizing that the Catholic Church wasn't what I'd thought it was. For example, I had this image that the Church opposed and rejected the human body--the beauty of the body, the joy of the senses--and denigrated all sensual beauty and pleasure, from the beauty of a Japanese maple to the ecstasy of sex. (I'm … [Read more...]

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“Marilynne Robinson in Montgomery”

This essay takes a while to get going, but it's a good, steady look at the way aesthetics and theology can lead us to flatten human experience--especially when "us" is white Americans writing about race. As somebody with a very "suffering and humiliation keep you close to Christ, you should consider them sometime" spiritual style myself, it was good to get a reminder of the way that kind of spirituality can cut against a communal pursuit of justice. As somebody who loves Robinson's books, it was … [Read more...]

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The Butcher Birds: Lloyd Alexander, “The Kestrel”

I recently read a q&a with two authors in which one of them, Rachel Manija Brown, was asked for recommendations of books on post-traumatic stress. She's written some really clear & useful posts on the subject, so I was interested in what she'd say--and especially intrigued when she cited a children's fantasy novel as "one of my favorite depictions of how war can make people completely lose their minds, and how some of them come back from that and some don't."I'd read a couple of the … [Read more...]

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Kathy Shaidle’s Poetry, Old and New

So I took part in this year-end books roundup with AmCon, and once again told everybody to read Kathy Shaidle's 1998 poetry collection, Lobotomy Magnificat. You can get a longer review from me here but really, it's a short book, why not throw it in your basket?Shaidle replied; I thought this bit was esp interesting: "A lot of people see 'compassion' in my poetry and other early writing that I simply don’t think is there. I think they’re seeing what they want to see."She also noted that he … [Read more...]

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Kathy Shaidle, “Dream of the Rood”

Blessed be my branches’ shadows, sunsewn Mosesbaskets: they ‘byed the Infant sleeping on the grass.Blessed be my roots: weaving the Boy a fine cradle, they hovered Him just above Hell.Yes, bring on the beautiful saw— I will it. Dead I will live forever. more … [Read more...]

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“Will Work for Meaning”: I review “Two Days, One Night”

at AmCon: The most tense scene I saw in any movie this year was Marion Cotillard leaning against a blank wall gulping from a bottle of water.Cotillard is playing Sandra in “Two Days, One Night,” yet another must-see from Belgium’s Dardenne brothers (“The Kid with a Bike,” “Rosetta,” “The Child,” “The Son”). Sandra is waiting for the results of a vote taken by the employees of Solwal, the company where she used to work. When the movie opens she has barely, partially overcome a severe depressi … [Read more...]

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An Amazing Exchange from the Deleted Scenes of “Damsels in Distress”

ROSE: One thought reassures me: Our stupidity must be part of God’s divine plan. He must have made us stupid for a reason.VIOLET: Because he wants us to have kids? Be fruitful and multiply…ROSE: Yes. Probably. via … [Read more...]

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