“Last Year’s Horror Cornucopia: Suffering in Style”: I’m at First Things

every Halloween is self-parody Halloween: Last night I watched The Final Girls, Todd Strauss-Schulson's 2015 slasher parody about mourning. It's charming, touching, and mostly successful—and a great example of the reasons 2015 specifically and the '10s generally have been such great years for horror fans. 2015 was just a cornucopia of bloody fruit: the lush Gothic fantasy of Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak, David Cronenberg's nihilistic satire/poignant ghost story Maps to the Stars, and J … [Read more...]

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Contrarian to the Stars: I Defend the “Star Trek” Episodes You Hate

I have finally finished my epic rewatch of "Star Trek: The Original Series." (Previous posts here, here.) The final stretch was defined by my discovery that lots of supposedly terrible episodes are either genuinely good, or better than I'd remembered.There is one exception. That exception is, of course, Spock's Brain.Let's do this thing. Bread and Circuses, infamous for supposedly pushing Christianity with Uhura's final line, "Not the sun in the sky, Mr. Spock--the Son of God!", is … [Read more...]

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From Jean-Pierre de Caussade, “Abandonment to Divine Providence”

For example, let's take a piece of stone destined to be carved into a crucifix or a statue. We might ask it: "What do you think is happening to you?" And it might answer: "Don't ask me. All I know is that I must stay immovable in the hands of the sculptor, and I must love him and endure all he inflicts on me to produce the figure he has in mind. He knows how to do it. As for me, I have no idea what he is doing, nor do I know what he will make of me. But what I do know is that his work is the … [Read more...]

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“Can Prison Help Convicts?”: A Panel Answers a Lot of Questions (But Not the One It Asked)

So a couple weeks ago I watched this videoand it's an interesting intro to a lot of prison-related issues. I don't think it answered the question in its title, which is fine since a) Dostoyevsky already did that (twice!) and b) Dostoyevsky's answer is basically, "That's not a question that makes sense." A few notes:So Tim Carney's interlocutors are these two guys who have both served time for politics-related chicanery. The conservative one is full of bonhomie; the liberal one is … [Read more...]

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Commonweal’s Take on My Novel, “Amends”

is very generous: Now Tushnet has published her first novel, Amends, which is about a group of young alcoholics participating in a reality-TV series about rehab. Apart from their addiction, the six protagonists would seem to have little in common. They come from different backgrounds, have different personalities and tastes, and react to their new sobriety regime in very different ways. At its most sociological, the book is satire, providing the reader with miniature tableaux of contemporary … [Read more...]

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The Human Heart Is a Cactus, The Desert Makes It Bloom: Notes on Friendship and a Courage Conference

So I was invited to a conference run by Courage, a Catholic ministry to people with same-sex attraction. Prof. Janet Smith and I had a dialogue which I thought went fairly well, and which I think they'll eventually make available online. I also have an essay in the book that resulted from the conference, Living the Truth in Love. Here are three smallish thoughts about friendship, in light of what got said at that conference.1. One of the speakers was Dan Mattson, and as always I was so … [Read more...]

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Wesley Hill: “Eve Tushnet’s Spirituality of Humiliation”

a super-neat piece that connects my new novel to some themes in my nonfiction writing: Eve Tushnet’s new self-published novel Amends (available as an e-book or a paperback) is peak Tushnet: there are more quirky one-liners than the best standup you’ve seen, more offbeat metaphors than even Michael Chabon can conjure; there are themes of friendship and sacrifice, themes of recovery and religion; there are gay characters, and there’s even a Christian one (the latter features in an extended scene n … [Read more...]

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