“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...]

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“Humiliation and Reconciliation”: I’m at AmCon

as usual I seem to have kept the most important stuff for the last three paragraphs, but here's the opener: My poolside reading this July has been Mary C. Mansfield’s 1995 work The Humiliation of Sinners: Public Penance in Thirteenth-Century France. The book illuminates human questions we still have not resolved with stories from civilizational past. You don’t have to care as much about the Rogation dragon as I do to see echoes of Mansfield’s medieval world in our own rituals of public abase … [Read more...]

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A Short Review of “The Wisdom of the Beguines: The Forgotten Story of a Medieval Women’s Movement”

Going into this book I knew basically nothing about the beguines--not even how you pronounce it. (BEG-een, BEY-geen or buh-GEEN, according to dictionary.com.) All I really wanted from Laura Swan's short popular historical survey was an introduction to a vocation that has been almost entirely forgotten: laywomen, sometimes itinerant but sometimes living in communities from two or three people to a miniature city of over a thousand women, ministering to their neighbors and developing a unique … [Read more...]

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“Famous Monsters of Filmland”: I review Tim Powers’s new novel

for AmCon: The novels of dark fantasist Tim Powers often flow out of weird, grim moments in real history: the strange encounter of a fox and an English spy; the long lit matches burning in a bloodthirsty pirate’s beard. Powers’s latest book, Medusa’s Web, got its start when Powers encountered one of these disturbing little bits of trivia: Rudolph Valentino received Last Rites twice. Why? To answer that question, Powers spins a tale of family secrets and Hollywood ghosts–and an otherworldly, addi … [Read more...]

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“Christian Love and Kinship Outside Marriage: Thoughts from a Gay Catholic”

My talk at Calvin College is available at Livestream and YouTube (below):I thought this one went well. Oh man though, I'm so glad I got new glasses about a week after this was filmed. Look at how far I have to push these down the bridge of my nose to read. … [Read more...]

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“Book Recommendation: Poor Relief in England 1350 – 1600”: The Dorothy Option

relevance! ...McIntosh also takes care to outline the change in attitude toward the poor as she finds it in legal verbiage. Rather than charity as a meritorious act, the new laws concerning the poor become much more concerned with control of aid recipients, placing much more emphasis on behavioral conditions the poor must meet, and implying that poverty was less a result of misfortune and more a moral short-coming on the part of the needy, an attitude McIntosh connects with the Puritan … [Read more...]

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The Toast Presents: “The Desert Fathers”

pretty great: ANTHONY THE GREAT: spiritually I don’t even want to talk about any food that isn’t bread the greatest prayer of all is shutting up more … [Read more...]

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