Medieval People by Michael Prestwich (Book Review)

Anyone who reads even cursorily about the Middle Ages encounters the many vivid personalities who emerge from the history books, from titanic figures like St. Thomas Aquinas and Eleanor of Aquitaine to lesser known people like Simon de Montfort (largely responsible for the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade) and the Countess Matilda of Tuscany (an ally of Pope Gregory VII and successful military leader). Their stories are told so many times that it can seem like little is left to be … [Read More...]


Remember When Artists Had Courage?

Now we're taking orders on what we're allowed to watch from North Korea? That's how brave Hollywood stands by their principles? (As if they have any principles other than devotion to the almighty dollar and contempt for their audiences.)I'm not saying a Seth Rogen movie is worth risking lives. Heck, just the idea that "Seth Rogen" and "international incident" are in the same news stories is proof of our deeply odd times.But if any nation on earth is demonstrably evil, it is the … [Read More...]

Mmmm, Courier.

How To Send an Email With Style

Use a typewriter to type it on your letterhead (can't you just feel that nice 24lb bonded paper?), sign it, and have your assistant scan and email it.That's what writer-director Terrance Malick does, as revealed in the Sony leak. Malick--who takes this reclusive artist thing seriously--doesn't use email. Here's the letter: The letter is notable for its courtesy, professionalism, good grammar, and style. People used to know how to communicate this way, and it's becoming … [Read More...]


The Days of Our Glory

Darkness is a fearsome thing: concealing, obscuring, bearing with it an almost tangible sense of oppression. The promise of the savior in Isaiah is nothing less than the promise to banish the darkness: the people who walked in darkness shall see a great light.What does the Psalmist tell us? I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for dawn, more than those who watch for dawn. (Ps 130) With dawn comes the light, and … [Read More...]


Dickens on Hope and Despair: “The Chimes”

Charles Dickens' deep Christian faith rings in all of his works, and especially so in his Christmas books. After the success of "A Christmas Carol," Dickens published similar titles in the same format: novellas with supernatural elements and a clear Christian message. All of them were successes in their day, but none had the afterlife of "A Christmas Carol," and few remember "The Chimes," "Cricket on the Hearth," "The Battle of Life" (the worst of the lot and, not incidentally, the only one … [Read More...]


How I Pray: Lisa Hendey

I don't know how Lisa Hendey can do half the things she does and still maintain a prayer life. She's a speaker, writer for multiple sites and publications, founder of CatholicMom.com, and author of The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. And today she joins me for How I Pray. Who are you? I’m God’s creation, a Catholic Christian. I’m Greg’s wife, Eric and Adam’s mom, Anne and Pat’s daughter. I’m a sister, an auntie, and a friend. I’m Lisa. What … [Read More...]


No one talks about the Fourth Wise Man

He brought the gift of braaaains:Nativity set from Playmobile. … [Read More...]

Coventry Carol: A Bit of History

One of the things ultimately killed off in the English Reformation were the regional "mystery plays": local pageant cycles in which the common folk performed dramatized Biblical stories. (The York cycle is the most famous.) Many of the surviving texts derive from the flowering of Middle English in the wake of Chaucer and Langland, and are of a very high literary quality.The performances were mounted by various guilds and professions, so the coopers would dramatize the Fall of Man, the s … [Read More...]

2014-12-08 10.17.31

Evangelizing With Medals

The folks at St. Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) know a thing or two about spreading the faith, so when I spotted their medal offers I grabbed 100 from their Medal Variety Pack for $22. I was not disappointed.For less than a quarter each, these are very high-quality silver plated medals from Italy, not the little tin ones you find in some shops. You won't mistake them for the more expensive medals, but they don't feel cheap and the price is right.Medals are a great tool for … [Read More...]


How I Pray: Elizabeth Scalia

I read The Anchoress long before I knew her as Elizabeth Scalia, and have always considered her one of the best Catholic writers around. She's editor of the Catholic Channel here at Patheos, and author of Strange Gods and I Don't Want to be a Hoo-er: Essays on Faith, Family and Foolishness. Today she's here to answer the question, How I Pray. Who are you? ​I'm Batman.​ What is your vocation? ​I am the very lucky wife of a good man, mother to two charming sons and one brilliant daughter- … [Read More...]


No, Pope Francis Did Not Call the Koran a “Prophetic Book of Peace”

The Moonie-owned Washington Times has a story headlined Pope Francis: Koran ‘is a prophetic book of peace’. That would indeed be a shocking thing for a pope to say, not so much for the "peace" part as the "prophetic" part, so let's look at the quote from the story: Pope Francis, in Rome after a three-day trip to Turkey, told reporters that Islam was a religion of peace and that those of different faiths shouldn’t be “enraged” at the Muslim community as a whole when acts of terrorism are committe … [Read More...]

Biblical Cities From The Air

SourceFlix has created a nice compilation of flyovers of various Biblical locations and excavations. Check it out:They also released this flyover of the Temple Mount: … [Read More...]


The Devil Tempts St. Benedict

This illumination showed up in my medievalist Twitter feed today and I tracked it back to the so-called Mettener Regel (1414), a manuscript of the rule of Saint Benedict as practiced at the Abbey of Metten. The manuscript is illustrated by moments in the life of St. Benedict.At first, I thought this might be an illustration from the rule itself, with the devil depicted as a tempting woman with hideous talons: Those garments of which he is divested shall be placed in the wardrobe, there to b … [Read More...]

2014-11-23 15.27.45

Dig Quest: A Biblical Archaeology App for Kids

Dig Quest (iOS: free) is a light but entertaining educational app that gives kids a chance to explore Biblical archaeology by solving puzzles. Produced by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the app offers two sites to explore: Lod (location of an elaborate mosaic) and Qumran (of Dead Scrolls fame). In Lod, you brush away dirt to reveal the mosaic, and then play a timed visual quiz. At Qumran, you open jars and piece together Dead Sea scrolls like a jigsaw puzzle. Success unlocks artifacts … [Read More...]

Fr. Stephen Grunow

How I Pray: Fr. Steve Grunow

As the CEO of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Executive Producer for Father Robert Barron's projects, Father Steve Grunow is one of the key figures in some of the most impressive modern evangelism in the world. He's also a fine writer, a nice guy, and I understand he can bench press a Dodge Dart. He joins me this week to answer the questions for the How I Pray series. What is your vocation? Priest of Jesus Christ. I serve the Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago. What is your prayer … [Read More...]