The Catholic Writer and the Skating Boom, Or Every Day Is Self-Parody Day

"[Kathleen] Hanna wanted to become a writer. But Kathy Acker, a counterculture writer Hanna admired, told her that no one listens to spoken word, and instead she should be in a band."--as recounted in The Punk SingerAlan Jacobs weighs in vs. me vs. Dana Gioia, on the past, future, and subjunctive tense of "the Catholic writer." A few scattered thoughts follow.* Jacobs' second point is really important: "Why should we not simply think of the generation of Percy, O’Connor, Lowell et a … [Read more...]

Wesley Hill’s 2013 best-of books list

For your delectation: I taught a course on Christology last spring, and in preparation I read a lot about St. Cyril of Alexandria. Three books are especially memorable from that time: Cyril’s treatise On the Unity of Christ, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought by John Meyendorff, and St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy by John McGuckin.I also read a few books this year from and about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, as I continue to try to figure out wher … [Read more...]

What Are the Right Questions About Catholic Fiction?

Eight thoughts on Dana Gioia's "The Catholic Writer Today." It's a listicle, because we live in a degenerate age.* Look, let me get this out of my system: We all know that First Things publishes basically this same essay once a year, right? Here's me teething on the last one I can remember. Gioia's is the best one I've read so far, but I have read way too many of them, and they all have the same GIANT FRUSTRATING LACUNAE. Stop publishing this article. You've published Gioia's version now and … [Read more...]

“The Giraffe Trick”: I review Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty”

at AmCon: In decadent Rome, an aging art critic rides the success of his one, long-ago novel, and wonders if there’s more to life than having the best conga line in the Eternal City. He watches young nuns playing in a hedge maze, drifts into and through relationships with damaged women, and does a lot of eloquent smoking.The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino’s update of/homage to La Dolce Vita, offers a lot of expected pleasures. Our antihero, Jep Gambarella (Toni Servillo), sometimes seems to … [Read more...]

“Serious Christians Should Abstain From”… Thing I Totally Did

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry makes a very good point: Remember when Pope Francis gave that interview? And he said something heretical-sounding? And all orthodox Christians blew a fuse? And it turned out the interview wasn’t proofread and Francis never said that? moreIn fact I'd been wondering whether I should add a note to this post, since the one place where I got up on my hind feet and took a swipe at Pope Francis was in fact a paraphrase/distortion. I decided not to, but PEG made me rethink t … [Read more...]

In Defense of “Spiritual, But Not Religious”

So today I learned that I'm bizarrely defensive of this much-mocked self-description.I think my basic defense is that "spiritual, but not religious" means radically different things to different people, and some of those things are the result of profound and painful attempts to love and serve God. ("God, as you understand God," as they say.) Here are some things I think people may mean when they say that they're spiritual but not religious:* I had a consumerist relationship with a church … [Read more...]

“God’s Away on Business” in Hebrew

I like this on its own merits, as well as for its high concept. Via TKB. … [Read more...]


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