Jesus of Nazareth: A Savior with a Hometown

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 Seamus Heaney. Wendell Berry. William Wordsworth. Robert Frost. In my childhood exploration of words and books, I discovered these poets weaving tapestries of grandeur with the homespun yarn of the mundane. They unearthed to me the vastness of space in the soil beneath their toes and the glorious weight of people, time and place in the familiarity of walls, wheelbarrows, and water. Recently I opened a book of prose that paints a similar picture of the practical and profound. Reading … [Read more...]

The Lego Movie

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 Editor’s Warning: BEWARE – MASSIVE SPOILERSThe Lego Movie has already been acclaimed as the greatest toy commercial ever crafted, but the reason for its success is that it is so much more than the mere money grab that we expected: it is actually a good movie. The film deals with challenging, topical issues and manages to take a more nuanced approach than the usual vapid platitudes one would expect in an animated children's movie.  Within its hundred-minute duration, we deal with big … [Read more...]

Call the Midwife

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  Jennifer Worth’s The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times chronicles the author’s experiences as a nurse and midwife amid the appalling conditions and unrelenting poverty of London’s East End in the 1950s. The book, which is part of a trilogy of bestsellers in the UK, is known mainly in America as the inspiration for the PBS show that “Downton Abbey” fans have turned to when they need their next costume-drama fix. Unlike that gorgeous Edwardian melodrama, Call the Midwife is gr … [Read more...]

Religious Experience as an Assault on Autonomy

 There's a fascinating discussion going on right now about the nature of religious experience, which was kicked off by Ross Douthat and has come to involve such diverse writers as Noah Millman and David Sessions. Douthat's initial post was about an aspect of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. One way to read Taylor is to say that people in a secular age have the same fundamental experiences as people in our religious past and simply interpret them differently. We experience the same realit … [Read more...]

Epic Mentality

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 In my house, my wife Katie and I are hoping that using consistent, relaxing music around bedtime will help to create a sleepy routine for our seven-month-old daughter. You may be surprised to learn that current music of choice is a playlist of peaceful tracks from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. No, we don’t think little Teresa is learning anything from “Into the West.”  (Our parental delusions aren’t that acute.)  But as I listen to the music and recall the stories told by Tol … [Read more...]

The Liberal Arts and the Call to Die

          A week or two ago, I saw a friend post a link to a discussion between Robert P. George and Cornel West on the liberal arts. Having spent my time in certain intellectual circles, I was correct in assuming that Professor George would provide a robust and well-articulated commentary on the liberal arts from his Catholic, natural law understanding. Not being familiar with him outside of his appearances on The Matrix and The Examined Life, I was mostly watching to hear Professor West’s under … [Read more...]

“Be Perfect”

In his reflections on February 23rd’s Gospel reading from the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:38-48), Carl Olson draws attention to the ease with which a priest and his congregation glossed over Jesus’ words: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Perfectionism can lead to pride and personality disorders.  Better to acknowledge our limitations, and try to be “the best policeman, or fireman, or Indian chief, that we can be,” Olson’s priest advised in his homily.  This is no doubt go … [Read more...]


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