As They Liked It: Playing Shakespeare in the Early ’80s

The BBC has this great series, "Playing Shakespeare," in which John Barton leads members of the Royal Shakespeare Company in a series of supposedly-somewhat-spontaneous classes about playing Shakespeare's verse. Herein a few notes to whet your appetite, and then a rant.John Barton is hilarious, first of all. He is perpetually swathed in a baggy sweater, all slumping shoulders and bushy eyebrows, his hair piling frowsily on his head like he forgot it there. And then this glorious rich voice … [Read more...]

“To Paradise, By Way of Kensal Green”: I review “The English Way”

for the University Bookman. Papist polemics, monks with painted eyelids, "apostolic viragoes" and more! You might expect a book called The English Way: Studies in English Sanctity from Bede to Newman, compiled under the reign of King George V, to rustle through the fingers like a necklace of finely-wrought gold. You might expect serenity, monumentality, harmony: a peaceable parade of right little, tight little saints.You might expect that, anyway, if you don’t remember much about English h … [Read more...]

I Think of You and Let It Go: Best Books I Read in 2016

Realized everybody's doing best-of-books in time for Christmas buying. I'll do a complete best-of post at the end of the year, but I'll be spending the rest of December gnawing through Alan Moore's vast, fascinating Jerusalem (review forthcoming), so I can be pretty sure this is my best-books list for the year. Fiction and lesser kinds of book mix here freely. Counting down, basically in order of how much they affected me personally:10. Charles Williams, Descent into Hell.9. Jessica … [Read more...]

DC/MD Catholics: Be a Church Companion for a Pregnancy Center!

Hey y'all. The pregnancy center where I volunteer has this excellent newish program of church referrals. Basically, we see a lot of women who were raised Christian or have some definite interest in finding a church, but who have a ton of worries and responsibilities to juggle so it's easy for the church hunt to get endlessly postponed. So we ask them a few questions about what they're looking for, and try to connect them with someone who can accompany them to a church--ideally, even picking them … [Read more...]

“Spirits, What Have You to Say?”: I watch “Ouija: Origin of Evil”

If you're interested in present-day portrayals of Vatican II-era Catholicism, it's pretty fascinating. If you're interested in haunted Ouija boards, not so much: I watched Ouija: Origin of Evil last night, and it was a pretty good flick. But I’m still a little confused about the Ouija board’s motivation.I watched the movie because of this article about Blumhouse, a horror-centered production company making “nuanced dramas about families, class, and morality — but instead of divorce or dysfun … [Read more...]

“Junior Varsity Angel Wrestling Team”: I finally watch “The Wise Kids”

after a whole bunch of gay Christians told me I should: The last thing you see in writer-director Stephen Cone's 2011 film The Wise Kids is its dedication: to the former members of the youth ministry at a Baptist church in Florence, South Carolina. The Wise Kids has been slowly gaining fans via streaming services (it’s available on Amazon Prime and Netflix), as adults recognize in it their own experiences as teenage Christians. The film is in large part about the failures and sins of American c … [Read more...]

Calling Godparents, Lifelong Friends, People Who Have Pledged to Serve Communities, And More!

Hello all. I'm doing a piece for America on what you might call "alternative kinship." Nonmarital, nonsexual forms of belonging and making family, which take place in a Christian context. The ones I'm most interested in are those adorned with ritual and formal promises, like the vows of friendship Wes Hill describes in his excellent Spiritual Friendship, but I'd also be interested in other ways people build practical and spiritual ties outside of marriage and religious orders/priesthood.If … [Read more...]