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 in which Fr … [Read more...]

Why We Need Monks

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 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 is s … [Read more...]

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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"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 all the words it evokes: girlish, pretty, innocent, naïve, sw … [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 take his food with a heaping portion of delight and … [Read more...]

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

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 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 most of us are scarcely more aware of the night. Light pollution, the p … [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 as the problem of suffering, but sometimes it referred t … [Read more...]

Aronofsky’s Noah

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 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 from … [Read more...]


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