“Identity Theft”: I review (and LOVE) “The Goldfinch”

in the Weekly Standard: When we speak of “the permanent things,” we should mean the enduring, inescapable, and unfulfilled longings of the contradictory human heart: the helpless yearnings found across radically different times and cultures. And among these permanent desires, the need for home and the need for ecstasy stand preeminent.Donna Tartt made her name with 1992’s bestselling murder-by-paganism tale The Secret History, which explored our longing for ecstatic release from the self. Th … [Read more...]

“The Giraffe Trick”: I review Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty”

at AmCon: In decadent Rome, an aging art critic rides the success of his one, long-ago novel, and wonders if there’s more to life than having the best conga line in the Eternal City. He watches young nuns playing in a hedge maze, drifts into and through relationships with damaged women, and does a lot of eloquent smoking.The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino’s update of/homage to La Dolce Vita, offers a lot of expected pleasures. Our antihero, Jep Gambarella (Toni Servillo), sometimes seems to … [Read more...]

In Defense of “Spiritual, But Not Religious”

So today I learned that I'm bizarrely defensive of this much-mocked self-description.I think my basic defense is that "spiritual, but not religious" means radically different things to different people, and some of those things are the result of profound and painful attempts to love and serve God. ("God, as you understand God," as they say.) Here are some things I think people may mean when they say that they're spiritual but not religious:* I had a consumerist relationship with a church … [Read more...]

“God’s Away on Business” in Hebrew

I like this on its own merits, as well as for its high concept. Via TKB. … [Read more...]

He Treats the Bible Like It’s Some Kind of Gospel Truth!: A Couple Scattered Thoughts

on Wesley Hill's review of Christian Smith's new book, a book I 100% haven't read and doubt I would understand. Amateur night at the Apollo!It took me a while to grasp what Hill was doing with the example of the Catholic Church. He's actually arguing, I'm pretty sure, that since Catholic doctrine has a lot of specific, settled positions which come from a Christocentric reading of the Bible but with which most evangelicals will disagree, you can't escape Christian disagreement by just … [Read more...]

The Diversity of the Saints Is a Diversity of Pain

Speaking of the wild diversity of the saints--over the weekend I read this powerful & bluntly painful piece from Mudblood Catholic: "God is doing something in the dark." But what? And, really, "Why remain here in the dark?"And that post collided with a very intense night at the pregnancy center, and the readings from this past Sunday:For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing … [Read more...]

Francis’s Conservatism (Uh, Sort Of)

I finally had the chance to read that really fascinating interview with the Pope. And the first thing that really struck me was a passage I'd been expecting to basically skim: Francis's description of what it means to be a Jesuit. I ended up thinking that, at least from one perspective, this and the discussions of art were the most important elements of the interview.I mean, first of all I do love that he cops to loving the Jesuits' discipline despite/because "I am a really, really … [Read more...]


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