“The Human Face a Furnace Seal’d”: I Review John Darnielle’s New Novel

for AmCon: The new novel from indie music hero John Darnielle is a moving tribute to the power of the imagination. But not in the way you might think.The novel’s setup is fairly simple. Sean, the narrator, suffered severe facial disfigurement from a gunshot wound sometime in his early life—the kind of disfigurement which makes him hard to look at, which makes other people recoil from him. But after decades of learning to accept his situation, he’s patient, quiet, and hopeful. He’s even manag … [Read more...]

The Killing Joke: I read “Infinite Jest”

Finished it and flipped back to the very first page. Hugely tempted to just go in for an immediate re-read. It's an engrossing, brutal book.I found the first 100 pages or so a really mixed bag--my one real criticism is that the book itself sometimes seems... bewildered and amused?... by the existence of people who aren't white. There are definitely exceptions. The Hugs Not Drugs/"shit down your neck" scene is fantastic, and feels real, or rather feels exaggerated in the way both life and the … [Read more...]

“In Sweden, Human Darkness Is Confronted by the Arts, Not the Church”

terrific final paragraphs: The culture wars afflicting the Church of England are basically over. By the end of the summer, the General Synod will have agreed women bishops. And while the fight for full gay equality has some way to run, this one is substantially over too: not least because the demographics are pushing inexorably in a liberal direction. Young people, even evangelicals, don't see the problem. So Christian progressives like me ought to be celebrating? Well, not quite. more … [Read more...]

Musical Rosary #8–Crowning with Thorns

Weaving a crown out of thorns,they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”--Matt. 27:29They talked for over an hour. Near the end, after they'd been sitting in silence for a while, Burns said quietly, "Do you know what Christ died of?"Rivers looked surprised, but answered readily enough. "Suffocation. Ultimately the position makes it impossible to go on inflating the lungs. A terrible dea … [Read more...]

Colonialism Isn’t Just a River in Egypt, You Know: “A Fan’s Notes”

on white supremacy as a form of "I like thinking about it" addictive denial. All the racial stuff in this book is really fascinating. IMO this specific passage gains power from the cartoonishness of the black characters--they're fantasy figures dancing through the sickened imaginations of the (also cartoony) white man--although at least one of the black characters in AFN is only as cartoonish as the whites. Anyway there's so much in this passage about the nature of white racial fantasy, … [Read more...]

What Keeps Mankind Alive: 1995 Theological Vampire Flick “The Addiction”

"All sin tends to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation."--possibly Auden? Attributed to Auden, anyway. For a while now I've been trying to hunt down Abel Ferrara's ultra-artsy, not-on-DVD vampire movie, The Addiction. It's on YouTube again now--see it before it vanishes!--at a link you can find here, along with Kindertrauma's reflections on the film. I watched it last night and suspect I need to watch it at least once more before I have any firm … [Read more...]

The Prison of My Person, The Shackles of My Skin

Wesley Hill quotes some powerful words from CS Lewis on masturbation and lustful fantasy: For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever … [Read more...]


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