“The Wisdom of the Beguines”: Commonweal Book Review on Medieval Laywomen Mystics

with tons of fascinating stuff: In the twelfth century, single women began moving in large numbers from farms to cities of the Low Countries to work in the textile industry. Many of these women formed communal living arrangements that offered safe, affordable accommodation, and a life of service to their neighbors. According to Laura Swan’s recent book, The Wisdom of the Beguines: The Forgotten Story of a Medieval Women’s Movement, the beguines, who flourished for several hundred years, were one … [Read more...]

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“Terry Castle: The Anti-Paglia”: Helen Andrews

alerts us: ...Like Paglia, Castle’s entrée into the literary tradition of sexual inversion was a teenage fascination with Oscar Wilde—she dreamed of being “male, dandified, and in some sort of filial relationship to various 1890s Decadents.” Unlike Paglia, her grown-up persona is less flamboyant, more Jamesian. Indeed, the two ladies juxtaposed remind me a little of Wilde and Henry James circa Guy Domville: Wilde the crowd-pleaser reigns supreme over the London stage, for now; James, no less of … [Read more...]

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“Love Is a Losing Game”: I review an Amy Winehouse documentary

for AmCon: It’s impossible to describe Amy Winehouse’s voice. Crackly, crimson, fractured and sultry: That’s just the scratchy surface. “Amy,” the new documentary from director Asif Kapadia, delves into the jazz chanteuse’s troubled life and early death, but never forgets to show us Winehouse’s talent and craft—and her gentleness.“Amy” plays like a defense brief. There are villains: Winehouse’s father Mitchell, her husband Blake, and the paparazzi. The movie takes Winehouse’s own narrative a … [Read more...]

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Men, Women, Children and Humans: Some short movie reviews

What I've been watching.Mr Skeffington: Two and a half hours of epic Bette Davis. We start in the 1910s, with Davis as a Scarlett-like belle of the ball who ends up turning down all her suitors to marry the Jewish financier Job Skeffington. She married him only in order to save her beloved wastrel brother from ruin, so although Mr. Skeffington demonstrates his patience and loyalty to her and she does try to please him and work up some fondness for him, things rapidly go downhill for the … [Read more...]

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Melinda Selmys’s Terrific Series on NFP

Just really important for people who care about this stuff.Also adds some complexity to Wesley Hill's (quite good) post about Christian sexual ethics and "dazzling the pagan eye"--there's a lot of suffering, confusion, loss, anger, and frustration that comes with Christian sexual discipline (even if you don't accept e.g. the Catholic teaching on contraception). That can be dazzling in its own way--e.g. you might see our solidarity in different forms of suffering, or in the way we wrestle … [Read more...]

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“Lava” in the Western World: Justice Kennedy and Pixar

Yesterday afternoon I watched Inside Out. You'll get more from me about that later, but for right now I want to write a bit about "Lava," the short, and the weird coincidence that I saw it on the day of the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision.Aesthetically "Lava" is a mixed bag--or rather, a bag with one great thing and one awful thing in it. The designs for the two volcanic main characters are charming, lovely, and just weird enough. But the short tells a simple story--it could easily … [Read more...]

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“Indie Music’s Christ-Haunted Women”: I’m at AmCon

with some answers to a question I asked here recently: I listen to a lot of what you could call “Christ-haunted” music. Your Mountain Goats, your Weakerthans. Not music made by believers necessarily (although sometimes, unexpectedly, yes), but music made by people who can’t quite escape the stories of Scripture and the language of Christian faith. Cain, resurrection, David, sorrow for sin; a desperate rosary or a hospital vespers. You could add to this list stuff I don’t personally quite grok, b … [Read more...]

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