“The Fading Shadow of the Habsburgs”: Peter Berger

with a lovely tribute. From 2011, but I just found it via people reminiscing about Berger's life and work: For centuries the Habsburgs cast a gigantic shadow over a large part of Europe. Their empire ended cataclysmically in 1918. The shadow lingered for some decades after that, slowly fading under the blows of later cataclysms. Perhaps the time has now arrived when the shadow will disappear completely. Otto von Habsburg was the eldest son of Charles I, the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian … [Read more...]

Ignatius After Dark: And Other Bright Ideas from the Sick Pilgrim Conference

Last week I headed to sunny South Bend, IN for "Trying to Say 'God': Re-enchanting Catholic literature." Its official sponsor was "the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts" but a bunch of the organizers were people from the Sick Pilgrim blog/community and that sounds cooler. Anyway, my notes:# Notre Dame in summer is ridiculously lush. I swear whoever planted this rambling campus made it a project to get every kind of tree and just jam them right up next … [Read more...]

“The Smithsonian Goes to Church”: Ivan Plis

has a fun piece on what the Museum of American History says is its very first exhibit on religion: The Smithsonian—with its new religion curator, Peter Manseau—appears to recognize how monumental and daunting a task it is to convey the contents of a society’s soul. Instead, Manseau is at his best taking snapshots of individual lives: a West African slave jotting down all the Islamic teaching he can remember, a fourteen-year-old girl stitching devotional poems in New Jersey, a Massachusetts churc … [Read more...]

“The challenges of being both gay and Catholic”: I’m in the Washington Post

reflecting on Fr James Martin's new book. FWIW I think it's worth either reading or skipping to the end of this fairly long piece: After the Pulse shooting, Washington area houses of worship held an interfaith vigil. The participants were of every sexual orientation and many beliefs; celibate gay people stood alongside those in same-sex marriages to mourn and pray. Sometimes it can be harder to come together in ordinary times than in the wake of crisis. But our challenge is to be honest about … [Read more...]

“It Was the End of Solo Singing”: I revisit a monarchist’s epic about the Spanish Civil War

for the University Bookman: When Eric Hobsbawm suggested that the period 1914–1991 could be called “the short twentieth century,” he not only defined an era but separated it from our own. Few conflicts are as emblematic of that final modern century than the Spanish Civil War; the familiar English-language writings on the war can seem remote from us, Orwell and Hemingway. If you want to see what’s only too contemporary in the Spanish clash of ideologies, turn to a novel by a man of the Spanish Ri … [Read more...]

Maybe Stop Seeking?

“A short story says, 'I looked for x, and didn’t find it,' or, 'I was not looking anymore, and then I found x.' A novel says, 'I looked for x, and found a, b, c, g, q, r, and w.'” -Etif BatumanSo yesterday I suggested that you maybe try a thing. Now I want to suggest that you maybe should stop trying things. I'm a cornucopia of contradiction over here. There's a lot of narrative pressure to view our spiritual lives as a project we can work on, in which suffering is a problem we should fix o … [Read more...]

What If We Remade “I Confess”… But Sleazy?: And more movie notes

Wow, guys, this is a lot. Strap in.A Cottage on Dartmoor: British silent revenge flick; very grabby with the intercutting and the emotional intensity; ends with quite poignant scene of forgiveness. Forgiveness, rather than reunion, as the climax of a love story.Laura: Noir (although the noir style mostly doesn't kick in until late) and mostly standard, although I liked how pleasant and undefensive the career-woman scenes were. There's a specific kind of relationship here, the man who … [Read more...]