Neighbors and Strangers: Edward P. Jones’s Tales of Black Catholic D.C.

The title of All Aunt Hagar's Children gives you an idea of one of the strengths of this short-story collection: Edward P. Jones has woven a tapestry portrait of a community. Or, to switch metaphors, he has laid a table where everyone in the family can come, get their due, and have their say.The stories aren't linked by anything other than their setting: black D.C., mostly black Catholic D.C., from the late 19th century to the latter half of the 20th. These people are farmers and porters … [Read more...]

“Why This Gay-Married Protestant Loved Eve Tushnet’s ‘Gay and Catholic’”

Very kind & thoughtful review of the book, at New Directions: ...Part One of Gay and Catholic is Eve’s own account of coming out as a lesbian in her atheist family, falling in love with the Catholic church in college, choosing to be baptized, and then confronting her alcoholism – a story made all the more interesting because its pieces seem to be scrambled and assembled in the opposite order from your average gay Christian autobiography.Eve has a remarkable gift for mixing incisive wit a … [Read more...]

Mercy Seat, “I’ve Got a Feeling”–Gospel-Punk with Gordon Gano

Dept of Things I Found on Wikipedia: … [Read more...]

“What does it mean to be Catholic?”: Part three of my conversation with Alicia de los Reyes

at Surprising Faith: Alicia: What do you think it means to be Catholic? Your Catholicism seems much more intellectual than mine ever was, and I considered myself a fairly committed Catholic. Does Catholicism require us to understand some/most of it? Or is it enough to go through the sacraments and say that you believe in the Nicene Creed (even if you don’t think about it all that hard)?Eve: I don’t really think I have much of a definition of what it means to be a Catholic, other than “bap … [Read more...]

“Common Hells, Private Heavens”: I’m in Commonweal

reviewing a show at the National Museum of African Art: I’m sitting in hell with a couple of little boys, who are trying to prove they’re not scared. We’re watching a cloth-wrapped figure prostrate itself and bang its fists against the floor, as sobs and wordless singing give way to a howled “I, I, I surrender!” Behind us stretches a huge black coiling thing that looks like a well-fed python. “It’s just a video,” one kid says in a subdued voice.We’re in the depths of the National Museum of A … [Read more...]

“Detachment in Friendship”: I’m at Spiritual Friendship

with a small post: A while ago I was talking to my spiritual director about some anxieties I was feeling in one of my friendships. This was a close friendship which had been tested by time (and by my own idiocy) but I was still having a hard time trusting that it would endure, and coping with the changes that were occurring in the friendship.My spiritual director nodded and said, “It sounds like you’re ‘attached’ to this friend, in the sense that you’re relying on the friendship for your wel … [Read more...]

From Edward P. Jones, “Common Law”

"You know, I don't know what's become of you," Idabelle said."I could say the same bout you." He took a beer from the icebox, needing something to do with his hands because he knew his were the greater sins. --in All Aunt Hagar's Children … [Read more...]