“Dismantling the Cross”: Patricia Snow on Renewing Honor for Celibacy

This is a fantastic, hard-fought essay. I don't know that every aspect of it works (see below) but it's countercultural and deeply worth your time. Plus it includes an angle on Kristin Lavransdatter which I had not even considered: Generally speaking, there are two principal vocations in the life of the Catholic Church: marriage on the one hand, and celibate priesthood and religious life on the other. Both are expressions of conjugal love. In the normal calling of marriage, an individual binds … [Read more...]

“In Cana of Galilee”: PEG

old post well worth revisiting: This initiation of the miracle by Mary is not just an illustration of the importance of women. It also parallels another story, from the Old Testament: that of Eve, who drives Adam to eat the apple. The miracle of Cana shows that, just as Jesus is the New Adam, Mary the Immaculate is the New Eve. Just as Eve had to push Adam to act, Mary pushes Jesus into the world, not simply by giving birth, but also by initiating his public life. What a powerful symbol, that … [Read more...]

“Marilynne Robinson Returns to Gilead”: I review “Lila”

at AmCon--I think this piece turned out well: Ten years ago Marilynne Robinson began telling us the story of Gilead, Iowa, a tiny town surrounded by fields and farms. A droplet of water in which the whole world is reflected.She began with Gilead, a novel in the form of a long letter written from the dying John Ames to his young son. Ames situates the town in its historical context, showing how this apparently all-white enclave nonetheless falls under the shadow of racism, from the Civil War … [Read more...]

Marriage as Work vs Marriage as the Cross

From the department of Those Who Can't Do and/or Fools Rush In, so as always, this post is worth at most what you paid for it:Conservatives often argue that Americans have a Disneyfied, "soulmate" view of marriage, which makes us unprepared for the fact that marriage--like all vocations--can be terribly hard. I don't think that's quite right. We do have a cultural vocabulary for talking about the "hard parts" of marriage. The problem is that we have only one vocabulary, only one metaphor; … [Read more...]

“Domestic Tranquility”: I review Andrew Cherlin on working-class families

for the Weekly Standard:When the sociologist Timothy Nelson asked low-income men who didn’t live with their children what the ideal father was like, eight of them spontaneously mentioned the same man: Ward Cleaver, the dad from Leave It to Beaver. That might make sense if Nelson’s interviews had taken place in the 1950s-60s, when the show aired; but these men were interviewed in the late 2000s. Why did they hark back to a man old enough to be their own grandfather? Maybe it is because the … [Read more...]

Me on “Marta Oulie,” Sigrid Undset’s First Published Novel

at the University Bookman: Marta Oulie opens with the confession, “I have been unfaithful to my husband.” So it comes as no surprise that the novel depicts a woman’s sexual awakening: the obsessive thoughts of him, the thrill at his touch. “I suddenly felt scared and didn’t dare look at the scrap of chest visible below his throat, but then couldn’t resist glancing at it.”What might be more surprising is that this is the sensual passion of a virgin for the man who will become her husband. Lik … [Read more...]

“To Overcome Distrust, Renew Friendship”: Amber and David Lapp

have basically the same conversation I just had with a woman at the pregnancy center: ...While Robert Putnam and others have documented the increasing isolation of all Americans, the alienation and distrust that we witnessed in this working-class town seemed like an advanced form of isolation. Things that we took for granted in relationships with new acquaintances—asking questions and listening to the responses, returning phone calls and text messages, extending invitations to dinner—soon ear … [Read more...]


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