The Unimaginable Atheist: Aleteia Took Down My “Loser Letters” Review; You Can Read It Here

Late last month Aleteia asked me to review "The Loser Letters" at CUA. I ended up giving it a negative review. They have now pulled that review from the website, which they've explained here. (I should say that I like Elizabeth a lot & realize she is trying to manage many conflicting demands and impulses.) I'm posting it largely because CUA chose to highlight the production and required all or most of their freshman class to attend, and I think that's a serious mistake for reasons I tried to … [Read more...]

The Long Halloween: Some quick movie reviews

The House at the End of Time: Twisty Venezuelan family/haunted-house horror about an older woman coming out of prison and sorting through what happened on the fateful night when her husband died and her son disappeared. A compassionate priest assigned to visit her (she's sort of in house arrest in the haunted house) helps her unravel the mystery--and the final twist about the priest's own history is genuinely moving. This is an emotionally-sincere, spooky film, and its climax is an extended … [Read more...]

Not Peace But a Sword: “The Birth of a Nation” (2016)

The Birth of a Nation, Nate Parker's searing life of Nat Turner, is a brilliant and iconic piece of Christian moviemaking--right up until Turner's slave rebellion begins.Birth has attracted intense controversy in part because of rape charges against both Parker and his co-writer. I'm not going to get into that, largely because you'll have your own beliefs on whether or how those charges should color your ticket-buying decisions, except to say that the portrayal of sexual violence in the film … [Read more...]

The Unimaginable Atheist: I review “The Loser Letters”

and tell CUA they made a big mistake:“The Loser Letters,” Mary Eberstadt’s tale of an ex-Christian’s attempt to improve the New Atheism via perky blog posts from rehab, is making its dramatic premiere at the Catholic University of America. The play, adapted from Eberstadt’s novel by Jeffrey Fiske, has three major elements. One of these is brilliant and charming; one is powerful but laced with melodrama; and one so underthought that it’s degrading to the audience. Unfortunately, I’ve named t … [Read more...]

All Theology Is Prison Theology: A Couple of Links

A little while ago I used a Michigan case about videoconference sentencing to explore the theology of the body of the defendant. Here Mississippi attempted--and then retracted--some wrongheaded theology of the family of the incarcerated: Family and friends of Mississippi state prisoners were surprised and alarmed by a new policy announced Wednesday that bans all but immediate family members from visiting. According to a memo posted in state facilities, “this excludes ALL friends, pastors g … [Read more...]

“Escape from Enlightenment”: I’m at First Things

reviewin': For over twenty years Will Allen was the in-house videographer for the Buddhafield—a religious group, eventually numbering over a hundred members, that mixed meditation, ecstatic experience, and ballet. In 2007 the group shattered amid accusations of emotional and sexual abuse. The title of Allen's new documentary shows which side he ended up on: It's called Holy Hell.Holy Hell confirms some stereotypes of cults and challenges others. The Buddhafield offered much that our c … [Read more...]

Doomed Queen and Beaten Champion: Concert review, Tristen & the Mountain Goats

A few weeks ago I got a chance to see the Mountain Goats in concert. Let me tell you to do this thing if you get the chance. The Mt Goats is sort of one guy, John Darnielle, and the people he gets to help him make narrative, terrifically-structured indie music; I've yapped about their stuff here and here among other places. I super love them but am wary of live music for whatever dumb reason, so when I finally saw them at Calvin College, I was totally blown away. Darnielle was losing his voice … [Read more...]