File Under Sacred Music: Movie Notes

Daisies: A mid-'60s Czech feminist romp, and incredibly enjoyable from the first frame to the last. The costumes and set designs are all about childlike fun; the overall ethos is, "Eat dessert first!"Victor Morton points out the way this film is women's lib, not women's rights, and like all purely liberatory gestures it can't be justified--and Daisies itself acknowledges that! It cheerfully admits that it's unsustainable and gratuitous, utopian in the fullest sense, a Candyland and not a … [Read more...]

“Escape from Detroit”: I watch “Don’t Breathe”

for AmCon, and end up ranting about the sacred Victim, obviously: Don’t Breathe, the new horror flick from director Fede Alvarez, opens with the flapping of wings and far-off sirens. Dawn is breaking on a deserted street, which we slowly approach from the sky. A man is dragging a blonde body through a city where everyone else seems to have vanished. more (also apparently I badly misremembered Wait Until Dark so apologies for that...) … [Read more...]

From Evelyn Waugh, “The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold”

His strongest tastes were negative. He abhorred plastics, Picasso, sunbathing, and jazz--everything in fact that had happened in his own lifetime. The tiny kindling of charity which came to him through his religion sufficed only to temper his disgust and change it to boredom. There was a phrase in the thirties: "It is later than you think," which was designed to cause uneasiness. It was never later than Mr. Pinfold thought. … [Read more...]

“Celibacy, Self-Acceptance, And the Extra Inkling”: I’m at First Things

readin': I’ve just finished Charles Williams's 1937 novel Descent into Hell, which was recommended to me by a couple of Catholic friends. Williams might be called “the extra Inkling.” Everybody knows J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, but far fewer people remember the other, less aggressively punctuated members of the club, including the philosopher Owen Barfield and Tolkien's son Christopher.Williams is the best-known of these auxiliary Inklings, and his writing is indeed what the youth of toda … [Read more...]

“Divine Disco: The beatific sub-genre that delivered sermons on the dance floor”: The Guardian

grauniading: With its reputation for sex, drugs and unbridled hedonism, disco doesn’t have a reputation as the most god-fearing genre. But, as every clubber knows, on a great night you can have something akin to a spiritual experience on the dancefloor, putting your hands in the air and giving yourself over to a higher power: music itself.A new compilation, put together by DJ and inveterate crate-digger Greg Belson, confirms that the cultures of Saturday night and Sunday morning aren’t so di … [Read more...]

By the Light of the Cross: Christian Wiman’s “My Bright Abyss”

What makes Jesus credible--at least for those of us who are Christians? The answers are as diverse as the wild array of weird Christian spiritualities. What stood out to me when I converted was the violence and public humiliation of the Crucifixion. The lurid, tabloid violence of Jesus' death seemed to me to meet, in some way, the reality of a brutal world. If there could be reconciliation it would need to be a horrific reconciliation; and so that's what we got.I didn't notice this at the … [Read more...]

Battle Dress: “The Girls of Slender Means”

I just read and loved this stiletto book, which I finally picked up after reading Amy Welborn's glowing recommendation. I'll just add a few notes to what she's already said. The Girls of Slender Means is set in a rooming house for single women in the summer of 1945: Its main narrative opens on V-E Day and closes on V-J Day, although it's framed by flash-forwards to a time when most of the girls--but perhaps not all--have gone on to better digs and brighter days.Notable features for me: This … [Read more...]