“Piety and Hunger”: Nice intro essay on “Kristin Lavransdatter”

why not start your journey w/Kristin during Lent? Undset was an obsessive researcher, and her 14th-century Norway has texture down to the dirt of the smithy floor. She captures annual agricultural rhythms of shortage and plenty, obscure ecclesiastical laws governing punishments for adultery, and the way the men douse themselves in ice water to sober up for church after Christmas festivities. Her descriptions of food, decor, and clothing are precise: the way Kristin strews juniper and flowers on … [Read more...]

Calendar of Blood: “Holidays”

So since I'm me, I took the time during this Octave of Christmas to watch "Holidays," a horror anthology in which every tale takes place on some sort of celebratory day. It's surprisingly good!The thing that makes the movie so powerful (esp its first half), I think, is that most of the directors/writers took the time to ask what each holiday is actually about. What are the underlying emotions called up by each day--the longings, beliefs, fears, dreams to which each holiday responds? And then … [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...]

“Art Matters, Even When You’re Poor”: Alison Stine

in The Nation--this is short and powerful all the way through: ...Not long ago, in the midst of making what I thought was a couch fort, he made his own art gallery. He turned the biggest cushion on its side and taped up his creations to the fabric. He’s also done an “installation” in which he taped greeting cards, string, an odd piece of paper from a grocery bag he cut out himself, and small toys to the wall. He did this after seeing me arrange my own postcards on the wall of our rented place, t … [Read more...]

“Till Pregnant Women Have Faces”: Melinda Selmys

lays it down:I’ve been having lots of weird, really vibrant dreams (I usually don’t dream or don’t remember my dreams or they’re really dull.) The latest was that I was going to make a birth pilgrimage where I would be walking in silence across country to the place where I would give birth. My face was going to be veiled because in the dream women’s faces become plasticized and cartoonish during pregnancy. I was walking with a woman who I was supposed to pretend was my grandmother, even thoug … [Read more...]

Five Links from a Criminal Justice System: Meeting Your Kidnappers, Keeping Mothers Out of Prison, Putting Cops in Schools, And Gullah Amends

Most of these links have a theme of "aftermath," I guess."What Happened After My Kidnapping":Hello, my name is Brad Pearson. In March 2006, you were one of three people who kidnapped me in West Philadelphia.I’m writing this letter not because I’m angry at you, or upset, or hurt. The opposite, actually. While the kidnapping and investigation were difficult for me, in the end they made me a stronger man.I’m a magazine writer now, and I’ve always hoped to talk to you and Jerry and Mo … [Read more...]

Five Links from a Criminal Justice System

These are fairly random, a grab-bag of the things that caught my attention from the huge heap of powerful writing on cops, prisons etc being done today. So I urge you all to follow PrisonCulture and the Marshall Project on twitter. After this post I'll only post links I'm pretty sure I didn't find through them. Okay, let's go. The theme for this post is, "Like love, original sin and structural racism will find a way," or, Things That Aren't Solutions."Chain Gang 2.0: If You Can't Afford This … [Read more...]