Broken Hallelujahs

Beginning with a lover's wish to woo his beloved with the music that the biblical King David played to please the Lord, the song "Hallelujah" is a testament to the existence of a natural yearning to seek spiritual fulfillment through romantic relationships.  Filled with Judeo-Christian religious imagery, singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has described "Hallelujah" as an attempt to secularize a term commonly translated to “praise the Lord.”“It explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist, an … [Read more...]

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That Hideous Strength: When Marriage Saved the Universe

[Editor’s Note: This essay is Part 3 of a series on C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, following Elwin Ransom's journey through Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra. Check the archives to access the previous two analyses: "How C.S. Lewis Used Aliens to Show Humanity's Failings" on February 13, and "What if You Could Stop the Fall of Man" on April 2.]“‘Matrimony was ordained, thirdly,’” said Jane Studdock to herself, “‘for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the othe … [Read more...]

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What if You Could Stop the Fall of Man?

[Editor's Note: This essay is Part 2 of a series on C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. Perelandra is the second book following Elwin Ransom's journey which began in Out of the Silent Planet. The essay series will end next week with the author's analysis of Lewis' third book That Hideous Strength.]The Fall is one of the seminal events of man’s relationship with God--and one of the most perplexing. That an omnipotent, omniscient God permitted man to sin against His will raises questions even fervent be … [Read more...]

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Finding Redemption in the Blackness: Good Friday with Solzhenitsyn, Hawthorne, and O’Connor

[John Paul II intended his first encyclical Redemptor Hominis (Redeemer of man) to be “a great hymn of joy for the fact that man has been redeemed through Christ—redeemed in spirit and in body.” JPII titled his Theology of the Body “Male and female He created them,” but perhaps it would be better, he reflects in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, to say: “Male and female He redeemed them.”]While Holy Thursday and Good Friday can be days of great sadness for most Christians, the emotion I feel mo … [Read more...]

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Grace in the Grotesque: The Mysteries Represented in O’Connor’s “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”

[Editor's Note: In her essay "The Church and the Fiction Writer," Flannery O'Connor addresses the relation between Catholic dogma, the Catholic writer, and the Catholic reader. She reminds the writer that a fixed dogma is not a limitation on the writer's observation of life, but an additional dimension to reality. The truthfulness and wholeness of natural events must be presented, however, to observe "what man has done with the things of God." In order to encourage such writers, she says we need … [Read more...]

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I’ll Be There for You: How the Power of Marriage Brings about Healing

The classic TV sitcom Friends is iconic for its long run, humor, and relatable characters that made everyone feel they were part of the “gang.” Friends also pushed the envelope, dealing with themes that America was just beginning to delve into in the 1990s. Taking a supportive and liberal approach to topics such as hook up culture, marriage and divorce, “alternative” families, and homosexual relationships, Friends dealt openly with themes previously considered taboo.Yet in the 10 seasons Frie … [Read more...]

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How C.S. Lewis Used Aliens to Show Humanity’s Failings

[Editor's Note: This essay is Part 1 of a series on C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, beginning with Out of the Silent Planet. Look for upcoming analysis of Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, both of which prove to be just as fruitful when read along side John Paul II!]Would you baptize an extraterrestrial?This highly speculative question has received surprisingly high-profile attention. It was the title of a 2014 book by Guy Consolmagno and Paul Mueller, two Vatican Observatory astronomers. … [Read more...]

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Use and Shame in “Love Yourself”: How Justin Bieber Teaches Theology of the Body

[Editor's Note: Some will say it is a stretch to extend a Theology of the Body interpretation to an artist who has so obviously fallen prey to the most degraded aspects of pop culture.  The author writes, however, from the intuition that there is something more going on in Justin Bieber's new album--an intuition with which JPII likely would have agreed.  In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, JPII responded to a series of questions from a news reporter, one of which cut right to the heart of this mat … [Read more...]

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Baptizing the Modern World

[Editor's Note: While not explicitly Theology of the Body-focused, this essay on our response to the modern dilemma is not only a beautiful analysis of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, but really gets at the vision Saint Pope John Paul II had for the Church. The author begins with a diagnosis but does not end there, making these words extremely valuable to take into our hearts as we interact with others each day.] "Every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely … [Read more...]

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Divine “Mediation” in New York City

Before I knew it, two big kisses embraced both of my cold cheeks.I had barely stuck my hand out to introduce myself before the tall, broad, and slightly greying Italian man standing in front of me gave me this intensely warm gesture. With his deep, blue-grey eyes, and Italian accent I felt seen, loved, and appreciated within seconds of being inside the door of a meeting hall in downtown New York. This man didn’t know anything about me—why was he so kind, gentle, and excited to see me? … [Read more...]

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