Sister and Stranger: “Ida,” A Jewish Nun in a Haunted Poland

Ida, a contemporary black-and-white movie now playing at the E St Cinema & Bethesda Row Cinema, begins as the title character (Agata Trzebuchowska) is about to meet her only known relative. Ida doesn't want to meet Aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), about whom she knows nothing except that Wanda refused to take her in when she was orphaned, so she was raised in a convent. She's about to take her own vows, though, and so she musters up all her obedience and submits to spending some indefinite time … [Read more...]

People of Portland (OR)! Watch a Great Catholic Movie

and meet my friend Matt! This Saturday at 7 pm, Level Ground is screening Desire of the Everlasting Hills, which I gave a glowing review here. They're also showing Fried Green Tomatoes tonight if you're feeling nostalgic, and on Sunday, Kidnapped for Christ, which I missed at the main Level Ground festival because it was sold out. Don't make my mistake! Seriously, check this stuff out, you won't regret it. Matthew Franklin Jones will be on a panel after Desire. … [Read more...]

First Things on Rhetoric of Sin and Control in Orthodox Christianity and in Eating Disorder Recovery

Really fascinating piece which I hope sparks (see what I did there?) a much-needed conversation: One cannot encounter Orthodoxy without also encountering food aplenty. People customarily do not eat their first meal until after receiving the Eucharist, so eating together comes to define the community. Along with the times of feasting, four fasting seasons collectively span sixteen to twenty-two weeks each calendar year, giving rise to popular Orthodox cookbooks featuring extensive “Lenten” … [Read more...]

“Every Day Is Like Sunday: Rediscovering Wilfrid Sheed’s ‘The Hack’”

Me at AmCon: Don’t call Wilfrid Sheed’s 1963 The Hack a forgotten Catholic classic. I don’t want it to be dismissed so easily. Sheed was the scion of Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward, the Catholic publishers and apologists; he knew that pre-Vatican II world of professional religion from the inside. The Hack is a satirical tragedy about Bert Flax, a man who supports his wife and five children by writing pabulum for the lower levels of the Catholic press: angels with cotton-candy wings, … [Read more...]

A Backwards Catechism

This excellent post from A Queer Calling has been getting a lot of attention: ...First, a bit of context: there were twenty students in the class, mainly from Christian backgrounds. Thirteen identified as Catholic, five identified as Protestant, and two identified as atheist/agnostic. Of the thirteen Catholic students, ten had attended a Catholic high school. Eight of those had been through twelve years of Catholic education. Three Protestant students and one atheist/agnostic student had … [Read more...]

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...]

“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...]


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