Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on Waking Up, Part 2

There are, arguably, many ways in which we need to wake up, hence the need for the variety of stories in this list. Some of these films (Something, Anything; Marty; Punch-Drunk Love) involve meek people waking up from lives dominated by peer pressure and social expectations from their friends or family. Other selections on the list (Joe Versus the Volcano, Cléo from 5 to 7, Knight of Cups) involve waking up from a single-minded preoccupation with self and the problems… Read more

Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on Waking Up, Part 1

“My father says almost the whole world’s asleep. Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. He says only a few people are awake. And they live in a state of constant total amazement.” —Patricia, from Joe Versus the Volcano It seems that we now live in an increasingly polarized, disenchanted, fragmented, and incoherent world. In a world such as this, partisan one-sidedness, nonstop busyness, and unquestioned presumptions are all too common and all too easy. Quick argument… Read more

Poetry Friday: “Self Portrait as a Lighthouse”

Thomas Merton wrote, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” I feel like this sentiment is especially potent when the literary and visual arts intermingle. Elizabeth Spires employs aspects of ekphrastic poetry as well as persona poetry in order to both lose and find herself in this imaginative poem. Inspired, possibly, by Edward Hopper’s paintings of lighthouses, the poet becomes a lighthouse in order to explore her internal musings and identity in the world. She… Read more

What Child Is This?

My wife is holding my hand to her stomach, gently gliding my fingers just beneath her ribcage where two small feet have been kicking against skin. She is thirty-two weeks pregnant with our third child, due in early December, an Advent baby. Sitting on our bed, she guides my hand as if across a globe, across the smooth curving surface and down below her navel where our child’s head presses down. Every few seconds, we feel the rumble of small… Read more

Lady Bird Ascending: Part 2

Lady Bird finds its rhythm by the quick wit of its characters’ banter and succeeds especially because of its excellent performances. Director Greta Gerwig adds to characterization as she frames and arranges their relationships. Lady Bird and her mother have a memorable argument at the thrift store, and it’s as if they are nearly submerged in a clothing rack; at a high school party, we first see Kyle (Lady Bird’s boyfriend), alone, in a wide-angle shot by the pool; for… Read more

Lady Bird Ascending: Part 1

I graduated from Bellefonte Area High School in 2004. During my senior year, I indulged my role as a star basketball player, taking in all of the attention that came with it. I was careful, though, to reject the label of jock because I didn’t want to be perceived that way. I noticed the eyes on me during warm-ups, during the winning plays of a game, and in the hallways the day after a win. I tried to ignore those… Read more

Advent Lights

The highways that snake down and around rural Iowa are dark. Enough that, if you are driving at the right time of night, and there isn’t a lot of traffic, you can catch moments of brilliance in the sky. Stars forever. An impossibly deep night. The opportunity to take a breath. My wife and kids were asleep, which isn’t uncommon. They share a gene that seems to be activated by getting into a car and travelling for more than an… Read more

Poetry Friday: “Scale”

As I read and re-read this poem, I enjoy noticing exactly when I’ve realize that it’s about the speaker’s pregnancy. If I know that “linea nigra” in the second verse is the dark line that appears on a pregnant belly from belly button downwards, then I’ve already caught on. If I don’t know this, I start suspecting the poem’s subject in verse three’s “germinal dark.” But who, still, is the “you” who begins to be addressed here? For me, it… Read more

The Cost of Writing the Truth

I remember my mother used to go to bed for the day. The blackness of her mood seemed to darken her room. I don’t know why she left her door open. Maybe she knew, even in her unresponsive state, that she needed to be able to hear us. Maybe she thought it would be less frightening for us if we could see her. She was wrong. She loved us, but she was wrong. We learned not to talk to her…. Read more

The Optics of Illusion

Ross told the kids to stare at the splotchy red and blue picture and wait. A dozen elementary-school students tried to sit still long enough to just look. The image could have been a representation of Claude Monet’s last sight of his breakfast nook. Color without definition, intensity without concreteness, depth without distance. For some time, the kids squirmed in their seats, not “getting it,” and then at last one, then another, began to shout, “It’s doing something!” and “It’s… Read more

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