“Celibacy, Self-Acceptance, And the Extra Inkling”: I’m at First Things

readin': I’ve just finished Charles Williams's 1937 novel Descent into Hell, which was recommended to me by a couple of Catholic friends. Williams might be called “the extra Inkling.” Everybody knows J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, but far fewer people remember the other, less aggressively punctuated members of the club, including the philosopher Owen Barfield and Tolkien's son Christopher.Williams is the best-known of these auxiliary Inklings, and his writing is indeed what the youth of toda … [Read more...]

Battle Dress: “The Girls of Slender Means”

I just read and loved this stiletto book, which I finally picked up after reading Amy Welborn's glowing recommendation. I'll just add a few notes to what she's already said. The Girls of Slender Means is set in a rooming house for single women in the summer of 1945: Its main narrative opens on V-E Day and closes on V-J Day, although it's framed by flash-forwards to a time when most of the girls--but perhaps not all--have gone on to better digs and brighter days.Notable features for me: This … [Read more...]

Ask Melinda Selmys Your NFP Questions!

Would you like a practical, philosophical, and psychological look at natural family planning from someone for whom it has been at times a grueling and frightening struggle? Someone who understands why you might be bitter and exhausted, who has experienced some of the beauty and promises of NFP but also been harmed by the Pollyannaish or judgmental attitudes with which it's often promoted? You are in luck: Eve Tushnet has been twisting my arm a bit to try to get me to write an NFP book. My basic … [Read more...]

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...]

Fr. Mother, Or, Is There an Equivalent to the Priesthood for Ladies?

A while ago I wrote this ironically-distanced post about how one might defend the all-male priesthood on feminist grounds: I think a feminist Catholic could legitimately say that women are already treated as available, as disposible, even as Kleenex. A woman priest, therefore, would just be a cliche. Of course a chick is here to serve you! That's not radical at all. A male priest is new and different and needed--a radically disposible male, not a female. A man-Mary, whose only word can be, … [Read more...]

A Psychiatrist Who Helps Exorcists, In the “Washington Post”

your joke here! But no, this article from early July is a good basic starting point: Is it possible to be a sophisticated psychiatrist and believe that evil spirits are, however seldom, assailing humans? Most of my scientific colleagues and friends say no, because of their frequent contact with patients who are deluded about demons, their general skepticism of the supernatural, and their commitment to employ only standard, peer-reviewed treatments that do not potentially mislead (a definite … [Read more...]

“Haunting Photos Show Monks Returning to Abbey–500 Years After It Was Destroyed by Henry VIII”

And it's St Aelred's abbey, too: A hauntingly beautiful set of photos, appearing on DailyMail, shows two Cistercian monks, Father Joseph and Brother Bernard, visting the ruins of a former Cistercian Abbey in England that had been destroyed during Henry VIII’s reign. more … [Read more...]