Un-sandwiching Holy Saturday: Reclaiming the Discipline of Waiting

Holy Saturday tends to gets sandwiched between Good Friday and Easter. I want to make the case that it is actually quite important. It is, at its essence, about waiting. Christ’s disciples were awaiting persecution by the Romans and rabbis. We now are await the return of Christ. It is about waiting in limbo, in between stages, caught in the middle of the death of Good Friday and the life of Easter. It is, thus, an apt metaphor for this… Read more

When My Brother Was an Aztec

  The title poem of Natalie Diaz’s first collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, introduces the book’s biggest subject: her eldest brother’s meth addiction and its impact on the family. “He lived in our basement and sacrificed my parents/every morning,” writes Diaz. “Neighbors were amazed my parents’ hearts kept/growing back – It said a lot about my parents, or parents’ hearts.” While some of Diaz’s poems confront their subjects straightforwardly, it’s her extended metaphors – which prompt us to… Read more

The Doomsday Machine

My wife and I did not see—and have no plans to see—R.I.P.D., The Lone Ranger, Olympus Has Fallen, and various other big budget movie offerings from 2013. However, not long ago, we sat in the comfort of our basement, which is like a home theater, and watched Noah Baumbach’s latest film, Frances Ha—a buzzed-about 2013 black-and-white American comedy-drama that had a semi-wide theatrical release beginning in May. No cars, skyscrapers, or people were destroyed in Frances Ha, but the scene… Read more

Why We Need Monks

  Religious communities serve as icons of the Christian life. Today more than ever, we need their witness of poverty, chastity, and obedience to counteract our contemporary excesses. “Fathers and teachers, what is a monk?” asks the Elder Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov. “In the enlightened world of today,” he says, referring to Dostoyevsky’s Russia, “this word is uttered in mockery by some, and by others even as a term of abuse. And it gets worse and worse.” Though monasticism… Read more

The Grand Budapest Hotel

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” begins with a telescoping narrative device: a young girl—a poor, but kind man’s Lena Dunham—walks through a cemetery to pay tribute to the memory of an author who is buried there.  She is dressed in a pink Girl Scout uniform of sorts and carrying a copy of a book entitled The Grand Budapest Hotel which has a stencil drawing of the hotel façade on the cover, also in pink.  Think about the color pink.  Think of… Read more

Omnivory and Christianity

I am a troubled omnivore. Or more precisely: I am a troubled, Christian omnivore. I eat meat, but I do not do so without caution and without doubts; and it is my Christianity that is responsible for much of this caution and many of these doubts. I find the relationship between the Christian and food a very complicated one. On the one hand, the Christian is uniquely situated to recognize the sacramentality of the eating act (and with it, to… Read more

The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

  Paul Bogard’s The End of Night has as much to say about the night sky as it does about the people who live under it. In his search for the last of our nation’s natural darkness, Bogard makes room for everyone from the president of the unlikely Las Vegas Astronomical Society to a woman who, visiting a dark rural area for the first time, exclaimed, “What are all those white dots in the sky?” The sorry truth is that… Read more

Like a Child

As the oldest of seven kids, I’ve done my fair share of wiping dirty faces, checking for closet monsters, and speculating as to why the sky is blue. But I also grew up in a church that encouraged “child-like faith.” In that church, this phrase was often shorthand for, “We don’t have answers for this, but having questions and worrying about it shows a lack of faith.” Sometimes “this” was a problem the Church has struggled with for ages, such… Read more

Aronofsky’s Noah

  In the latest issue of Fare Forward, Andy Quinn argues that “meta-analysis,” our way of obsessing about the terms of a debate rather than the issues at stake, is ruining intellectual discourse (Issue 7, “Everyone’s a Critic”). I think the initial reactions to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah are a prime example. On one side, there is the predictable outrage from fundamentalists over the artistic license taken with the Bible story. On the other side, there is the equally predictable preening… Read more

This Is What We Do

A few years ago, Chrysler debuted a slick commercial called “Imported from Detroit,” featuring Eminem cruising past relics of the city’s past industrial and civic glory. The voice-over, backed by the thumping guitar riff of “Lose Yourself,” praises Detroit’s gritty resilience and the unexpected luxury of Chryslers rolling out of its factories. Eminem stops his car under the marquee of a theater. He strides down its aisle toward a robed choir, turning to the close-up camera on stage with the… Read more

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