The Mask of Obedience

Last year I wrote this really scattershot, unsatisfying post about "The Beauty of Obedience," rescuing obedience as a positive term and a category you're allowed to care about. I recognize that that post was not the tightest thing I've ever written, and in fact, I'm still kind of flailing around trying to talk about what a positive vision of obedience might look like, but here are yet more extremely scattered thoughts.I've been thinking about that terrific phrase, "the mask of command," and … [Read more...]

“Hideous Strength”: I review “Degenerate Art” at the Neue Galerie

for AmCon: Leave it to the Nazis to make charity posters into advertisements for power-worship.In the late 1930s the Nazi regime created a traveling exhibition which contrasted Fuhrer-approved artworks with “degenerate” works produced by modernists, New Objectivists, and other riffraff. The exhibition was a bizarre contrast to the book-burning and art-destroying we might expect from a totalitarian regime. Instead of preventing people from seeing the art at all, the Nazis encouraged them to v … [Read more...]

“Everything in the Gospels Is About the Mass”: PEG Writes Your Homily for You!

Service journalism: I’m a very very beginning exegete, and the sort of Exegesis 101 rule for the Old Testament that they give you is “Everything in the Old Testament is about Jesus.”I’d like to propose a new Biblical exegesis 101 rule: everything in the Gospels is about the Mass.I mean, just off the top of my head... more (I really got a lot from this) … [Read more...]

In Which I’m Inspired by Direct Mail. Really.

I just finished The New Evangelization: 2003 - 2013 Missionary Letters, which is basically a collection of fundraising letters from A Simple House, an intentional Catholic community which practices "friendship evangelization" among the poor in DC and Kansas City, MO. It's a genuinely moving book with solid reflections on the theory and practice of charity. There are good explanations of why the authors focus on friendship as vs. efficient meeting of material needs, and there are countless … [Read more...]

From an Interview w/Rene Girard

in First Things: In a way, Christianity is the end of archaic religions because it reveals that the victim is innocent. When you understand Christianity correctly in its closeness and distance from archaic religion it is the same structure, the scapegoat phenomenon, that Jesus is victim of. Yet the text is intended to destroy your belief in scapegoat phenomenon instead of using it in order to have sacrifices. more … [Read more...]

“Coming Out Catholic: The Movie”: Me at AmCon

on a truly excellent film: At the Level Ground film festival the other weekend, I got to see “Desire of the Everlasting Hills,” a truly moving and well-made documentary—and an example of the movement I described in my “Coming Out Christian” piece.“Desire” lets three gay or same-sex attracted Catholics tell their stories. It’s not confrontational or argumentative; the overall tone is tender and reflective. I saw it twice, and it evoked both laughter and sniffles from the audience.And the … [Read more...]

The Sleazy Moral Greatness of “Phone Booth”

Last night I watched Phone Booth, the 2003 thriller (brilliantly directed by Joel Schumacher, for real) in which an unseen killer traps Colin Farrell in a public phone booth and makes increasingly painful demands. It's terrifically intense--I couldn't look away. The high concept is so great: the man suffering in public, while nobody around him has any idea what he's going through. Both Farrell and his character are fun (he's a publicist, rather than a human being) and, by the end, surprisingly … [Read more...]


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