Learning The Artist's Rule

I'm a sucker for wavy stripes; I find them restful. So when I saw the cover of Christine Valters Paintner's The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom, I gave a little gasp of appreciation -- okay, I stared at it in a kind of bliss for a while -- and anticipated in those blurred, calming lines the message: more restful stuff within! Well. . .yes and no. There's a little treasure trove within the book, but how restful one finds it depends, ultimately, upon one's … [Read more...]

Powerline Prizes for Better and Worse

Lots of good songs showing up in Powerline's artful debt-ceiling contest. I, like many others, enjoyed this punk rock anthem, "You're Gonna Pay": + + + + + + + I am much less taken with the exceedingly popular ditty "Don't You See", not so much for any flaw in the song -- it's nice enough; it has a good beat, and the kid singing it has a voice that's pure and true -- but I always get creeped-out when children are used to deliver political messages. Let's be consistent, here, … [Read more...]

Barron on Of Gods and Men

I wrote about the film here, and in the comments Manny pointed out that Fr. Robert Barron had written about the film and also talked about it in video. Well, a weekend after seeing the film, I am still haunted by its beauty and challenge. Barron, like me, is impressed with Brother Luc's statement that he is "a free man." And yeah, it's all about detachment -- the discipline that frees us. … [Read more...]

Smokin' Hot Brandon MacFarlane

When Michael Jackson was about 11 years old, he recorded a staggeringly mature, prodigiously musical vocal of Who's Loving You? and I thought I'd never hear another kid who could open up and sing with that sort of soul-stirring freedom. Then I heard my son Buster blasting this from across the house. I thought he'd been listening to one of his favorite gospel singers, and I assumed this was a much older artist. Wow. Right up there with what Jackson managed -- he is completely at ease, … [Read more...]

Holy Healing, Holy Art

Mary Magdalene by Antonio Veneziano graces the cover of this month's Magnificat Magazine, and once again I find myself as engaged with the wonderful artwork this publication routinely presents, as I am with all the wonderful prayers and readings within. It's a beautiful Icon, but the glossy Magnificat cover really brings it out in full force, rather like this snapshot, but even better. Here's what Pierre-Marie Dumont says about the work: Here we see "the sinner of love" represented not as a … [Read more...]

Bartoli: Ave Maria – Sposa son disprezzata

Bartoli is perhaps the most masterful vocal technician of the modern era. Not the biggest voice, not the creamiest, but my goodness, what staggering control, what flawless ownership she takes of the music. Catch the Ave Maria at .38; do you know how difficult it is to hit that note with sweetness and restraint? It's much easier to belt it out than to coddle it so gently. Awesome. … [Read more...]

Missing Peter Falk

I knew that Peter Falk was an actor who often improvised, as his often powerful work with John Cassavetes attests, but I was still surprised to learn, first, that Falk was in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire and second, that Falk largely improvised his role. Joseph Susanka discusses it all, here For me, however, the single most thought-provoking performance of his long and highlight-laden career will always be "Der Filmstar," from Wim Wenders' ethereal meditation, Wings of Desire (Der Himmel … [Read more...]

Art, Propaganda and Evil's Easy Way – UPDATE

At 50th Annual Academy Awards bash of 1977, Vanessa Redgrave thanked the Academy for giving her an Oscar (for "Julia") despite "the threats of of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums." The respected screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky wasted no time in responding to Redgrave's provocation: "I am sick and tired of people exploiting the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own personal propaganda," he said, memorably. Chayefsky was speaking to the wind. Why wouldn't the people who lived and worked … [Read more...]

How lovely is this?

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Resistance & Humility Feed Creativity

My column at First Things this week is all about the efficacy of the word "no" in our lives, and how deadening to the spirit and one's own creative juices is can be to hear only praise, and no criticism: Nothing quite so humbles as a tumble, and humility is often the deep place where creativity resides. When a successful artist or writer becomes so insulated from criticism that he never comprehends a failure, or when he has gone a decade or two without hearing the word “no” spoken in his … [Read more...]

Mercy, Mercy!

This comes to us via Pianogirl, who writes of Georgio Allegri's Miserere mei, Deus: For many years, it was thought that Mozart composed this piece because a copy of it was found in his handwriting. It was forbidden for this music to leave the Vatican. Rumor had it -- under threat of excommunication -- that the choir was forbidden to let the score be taken out of the Chapel, copied, or even seen by any outsider. On April 11,1770, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, age 14, was visiting Rome with his … [Read more...]

Panis Angelicus & our Priests

Two must-reads for you this morning: start with Max Lindenman's intimate and fresh encounter with a bishop he was prepared to dislike, because our media-constructed bogeymen are almost as dear to us as our consciences, sometimes: The final scene in Dumas, père's Three Musketeers brings young D'Artagnan, the hero, face-to-face with Cardinal Richelieu, a man he judges a usurper of royal authority and (at several degrees' remove) a murderer. Within a few short paragraphs, the cardinal's … [Read more...]

The Confession, Fr. Corapi, SOLT, Baseball, More!

Have any of you folks been watching The Confession, on Hulu? I saw the first three chapters and found the confession scenes just riveting: When a cold-blooded hitman bursts into a hotel room to execute someone, the intended victim does something unexpected: he asks the hitman for a moment to make his peace with God. The hitman lowers his gun as the victim takes a chain with a crucifix from around his neck, holds it tightly in his hands, kneels down with eyes closed, and begins moving his lips … [Read more...]

"The Music Box" – Intriguing!

Joseph Susanka, our resident movie maniac -- you should read his piece on the future of film -- sends this along. I likee! Stay with it; it's very inventive and charming and winning! … [Read more...]