If We Shadows Have Offended: I read “If We Were Villains”

So you don't have to!No, this trashy novel by M.L. Rio, set at an exclusive arts conservatory where the Shakespeare-obsessed fourth-year students probably kill a dude, could be cheaply summarized as, "The Secret History, but dumb." That's not even necessarily a criticism--lots of smart books are painfully dumb, and some dumb books are unexpectedly smart. I found myself enjoying this book and finding unexpected pleasures in it. It's frustrating and I think for most readers its flaws … [Read more...]

“Some Possibilities for Narratives of Friendship”: I’m at Spiritual Friendship

readin' books: I loved Wes’s post on writing about friendship, and figured I’d throw some specific examples out there to see what actual novels and movies suggest about the nature of friendship. These are very much first-draft thoughts, as I hope you guys will riff on them.“The Body” & Stand By Me–friendship as childhood. This heartbreaking Stephen King novella, which was turned into probably the best adaptation of his work for the screen, tells the story of a group of boys who go on a j … [Read more...]

How Can I Change the Conversation at My College Around Gay People in the Church?

The second post about questions I was asked at recent speaking events. I've written about one important aspect of this already: You have to be out there doing the work of protecting actual gay people from actual violence, cruelty, and rejection. This is part of what our faith calls us to do.But okay, you're doing that; what about changing the immensely important conversation on sexual ethics and vocation?The most glaring problem I see right now is that American culture has a vocabulary … [Read more...]

Bright College Chaplains, With Pleasures Rife (aka My Advice to Catholic Colleges re: LGBT Students)

The shortest, gladdest chaplains of life!I had the chance recently to talk to some people responsible for student life at a big Catholic school, who wanted to know how they could better serve and shepherd their LGBT students. Here's some of what I said. Also I could come to your school, btw, email me eve_tushnet@yahoo.com if you're interested in that.* Know that you're asking these students to, at a fairly young age, reject key components of what we call the American Dream. Lay celibacy … [Read more...]

“Et in Academia, Ego”: I review “Bradstreet Gate”

for the University Bookman: Death and defeat haunt the college novel. College novels—whether they focus on students or professors—typically tell a story in which the shining promises of academia prove not only false but absurd. College promises insight; college novels display the blankness of human depravity. College proclaims the power of reason and dialogue; college novels expose irrational passions and farcical miscommunication. College exalts the life of the mind, while the college novel is … [Read more...]

I Watch “Mistress America,” The New Noah Baumbach/Greta Gerwig Flick About Women’s Friendship

for AmCon: One of the weirder trends in today’s art is the rise of a certain kind of comedy: cynical and even scathing on the surface, but in the end, staunchly moral. These comedies push forgiveness, humility, and love as self-gift; the great enemies are personal ambition, unwillingness to embrace adult responsibility, and concern for one’s own self-image. (The lesser enemy is positive self-talk, which all these comedies go out of their way to satirize.) It’s a sort of comedic burned marsh … [Read more...]

“Governance Feminism” and Sexual Assault on Campuses

this bit leapt out at me but whole thing is worth reading--if I had to give it an extremely reductive summary it might be, "Sex isn't rational, and power is a temptation, not a tool"--see also btw the section on race: Increasingly, schools are being required to institutionalize prevention, to control the risk of harm, and to take regulatory action to protect the environment. Academic administrators are welcoming these incentives, which harmonize with their risk-averse, compliance-driven, and … [Read more...]