For There’s Nothing Original in Me/Except Original Sin: A Birthday Book Meme

I really enjoyed Melinda Selmys's list of the twenty books that have shaped her. It's my birthday (totally unrelated link, you guys) so it seemed like a good time to do my own list. Herein, fifteen books I blame, with commentary.In chronological order; when I can't remember (e.g. the first three books), in order from greatest impact to least. And keeping in mind that we are unknown to ourselves, we knowers, so probably like Carbonel, The King of the Cats should be #1 here, but the only … [Read more...]

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Unchosen Blessings: Gay Celibacy and Unplanned Pregnancy

Someone who knows I volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center sent me a recent article from Medicine Anthropology Theory, "Blessing unintended pregnancy: Religion and the discourse of women's agency in public health." It's a qualitative study of the reproductive histories and practical spirituality of women at a homeless shelter in the Southeast. The things the women say really sound like things our clients say; but what struck me most was how much of their experiences resonated with the religious … [Read more...]

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Masochism, Macbeth, Mayors, Marvel and More: My May Movie… Notes.

Missives? Anyway.The Duke of Burgundy: Lush flick about two butterfly researchers and their dominance/submission relationship. Some early scenes made me wonder if this would be about attention as submission--the submissive gaze, the gaze of service, as the gaze which most truly knows its object--and I'd super still want to watch that movie, but that definitely is not what this is. Then later when the twist is revealed I was like, "Ugh, I hope this isn't just going to be a movie-length … [Read more...]

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Reading, ‘Riting and Repentance: Some Notes from the Festival of Faith and Writing

at Calvin College. This was a blast, guys. Here are some semi-cleaned-up excerpts from my notes.I don't need a literary agent. I need a literary patient. This is a great poem. "The wall comes down." Calvin vs #orthodoxerasure--there was a panel of Orthodox Christian poets, which had way too much bafflegabby "what is liturgy, what is poetry" for my taste (although I loved Scott Cairns's "Poetry focuses your attention") but also made me think there are two conflicting, equally-true ways … [Read more...]

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“Love and Death in the Multiverse”: I review “Constellations”

for AmCon. Sorry for radio silence! I will be back after Easter. Also this play closes THIS WEEKEND so most Catholics who haven't seen it won't--I fail at service journalism--but in case a review is still useful or interesting to you, here it is: Constellations, playing through March 27 on Studio Theatre’s 4th Stage in Washington, is a slender play that uses its increasingly-familiar structure to illuminate less-familiar questions.This is one of those Rashomon-like plays where we see the s … [Read more...]

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From Hans Fallada, “Wolf Among Wolves”

One nice thing about reading so much Hans Fallada (for an upcoming review/profile) is how often I think, "Okay, that sounds a lot worse than right now." But then there are moments like this exchange, between a former Army officer who now does entry-level labor at a hotel, and his landowner friend: "Of course we took up the wrong attitude. I've discovered that ninety-nine percent of mankind have to torment themselves about money; they think of it day and night, speak of it, spend it, save it, … [Read more...]

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“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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