All Wrong, All the Time: The Tawdry Literature of Nicolas Restif

Nicolas Restif

Dirty books, quickly and carelessly written—almost 200 of them.That’s the legacy of Nicolas-Edme Restif de la Bretonne, prolific French author whose works showcased the sordid aspects of French life and society in the 18th century.  Restif’s writings included a plan for legalizing and regulating prostitution, as well as a vast array of novels, plays, and essays on a wide range of topics.His 16-volume autobiography, Monsieur Nicolas, begins with stories of sexual experiences beginning in e … [Read more...]

The Bells of St. Mary’s: A Michigan Adventure With a Happy Ending

Sweetest Heart of Mary Church in Detroit, rightful owner of the bell

This is the story of a big brass bell.The bell, which stood three feet tall and weighed more than 850 pounds, first chimed at St. Casimir Catholic Church in Detroit, reminding Polish immigrants in the neighborhood of the start of Mass or the noonday Angelus. (St. Casimir’s was founded in 1882 and but the church building was completed in 1889.  The bell would have begun its ministry of welcome shortly after that.)When St. Casimir closed its doors in 1989, the bell was moved to St. Agatha i … [Read more...]

And Now It Begins: Catholic Groups Rise Up to Replace the Boy Scouts

Kepha retreat

Within twenty-four hours of the Boy Scouts’ big announcement that they will open the membership to openly gay Scouts, fathers and concerned citizens are stepping up with plans to organize new ways to gather young males around the campfire for marshmallows and song.  I thought it would happen—but I’m amazed, frankly, that it’s happening so soon.I was going to tell you about two of the existing boys’ groups, which have a well-defined mission statement and a history of successful retreats and ca … [Read more...]