“Theology of the Booty”: I review a novel about pirate-utopians

at First Things: A few years ago, the website You Had One Job posted a Disney cartoon in which children with headkerchiefs and parrot cavort above the legend, “A good pirate never takes another person’s property!” “Disney,” the website’s caption read, “doesn’t get . . . the concept of what a pirate is.” The pirates in Carmen Boullosa’s 1991 novel They’re Cows, We’re Pigs (translated from Spanish in 1997 by Leland H. Chambers) have a firmer grasp on their business… Read more

So Far from God, So Close to “Miami Vice”

So for reasons best known to my confessor, I decided to watch the premiere of Snowfall (a new drama on FX, set in 1983 LA, about “how crack began”) right after watching the premiere of Miami Vice (an NBC procedural, do I need to tell you guys this?, made and set in 1984 Miami). This viewing strategy is not flattering to the new show. I don’t mean to beat up on Snowfall too badly. It’s adequate and I’ll watch more… Read more

Churchgoing While Homeless: Seeking Your Stories

Hello all. I’m working on a piece for America magazine that will share people’s stories and reflections on going to church while homeless. I’m looking for honesty: what was beautiful, what was really difficult, what you wish had been done differently. How have your experiences shaped your faith? What would you tell your church if they asked you to preach about your experiences going to church while living on the streets, in shelters etc? I’ve talked to both currently- and… Read more

Cat Fight This Feeling: I watch GLOW

So Netflix made a show about women’s wrestling in the 1980s and I am hard-pressed to imagine a concept which would seem, on its face, more custom-made for me. But then I watched the show. So, okay, I watched the whole season (ten episodes, hovering just over thirty minutes each), I was interested enough to want to know what it would do. Let me try to gesture at what really did not work, and also what I enjoyed. Vague spoilers…. Read more

Between the Promise and the Payoff Falls the Shadow: Movie and music reviews

It Comes at Night: This film is incredibly effective at creating tension and dread, and pretty aggressive about refusing to be a “story” in any conventional sense. Did you know that sometimes terrible things happen, due to pileups of bad luck and understandable choices? That is what this movie wants to give you. No character grows or changes (unlike in downer horror flicks like The Descent) and no questions will be answered by the end except, “Who will die?” I… Read more

“The Fading Shadow of the Habsburgs”: Peter Berger

with a lovely tribute. From 2011, but I just found it via people reminiscing about Berger’s life and work: For centuries the Habsburgs cast a gigantic shadow over a large part of Europe. Their empire ended cataclysmically in 1918. The shadow lingered for some decades after that, slowly fading under the blows of later cataclysms. Perhaps the time has now arrived when the shadow will disappear completely. Otto von Habsburg was the eldest son of Charles I, the last emperor… Read more

Oriented to Love Dialogue Seeking Participants

Hey you all. Oriented to Love, which brings people together from a wide range of sexual orientations & theological perspectives for dialogue on lgbt life in the churches, is seeking participants who accept what I suppose we must call the historic Christian sexual ethic w/r/t homosexuality. I did O2L in its first year and got a lot out of it. You can read my extremely scattershot post on the experience here, and A Queer Calling’s post here. If you’re interested,… Read more

Ignatius After Dark: And Other Bright Ideas from the Sick Pilgrim Conference

Last week I headed to sunny South Bend, IN for “Trying to Say ‘God’: Re-enchanting Catholic literature.” Its official sponsor was “the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts” but a bunch of the organizers were people from the Sick Pilgrim blog/community and that sounds cooler. Anyway, my notes: # Notre Dame in summer is ridiculously lush. I swear whoever planted this rambling campus made it a project to get every kind of tree and just… Read more

“The Smithsonian Goes to Church”: Ivan Plis

has a fun piece on what the Museum of American History says is its very first exhibit on religion: The Smithsonian—with its new religion curator, Peter Manseau—appears to recognize how monumental and daunting a task it is to convey the contents of a society’s soul. Instead, Manseau is at his best taking snapshots of individual lives: a West African slave jotting down all the Islamic teaching he can remember, a fourteen-year-old girl stitching devotional poems in New Jersey, a Massachusetts… Read more

99 Dreams I Have Had, Every One a Red Heifer: I read “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”

So I finally read Michael Chabon’s novel The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, and in spite of its serious flaws, I was still left with that wonderful feeling, Where have you been all my life? Why didn’t I read this thing sooner? The novel’s delights lie in its setting, its genre, and its prose. The setting is an alternate history in which the state of Israel was never founded, but the United States agreed to resettle Holocaust survivors and other European Jews… Read more

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