Catholic Artists Getting Re-enchanted

Like some hack sportswriter who skips the game but writes his piece by listening on the radio at home, I offer here a report on last week's Trying to Say God conference at the University of Notre Dame, despite the fact I couldn't make it there. (Family unexpectedly came in from out of town.)Happily, I was able to listen to some of the presentations posted as audio files on SoundCloud, courtesy of that estimable Patheos blog, Sick Pilgrim, whose proprietors (Jessica Mesman Griffith and … [Read more...]

The Ultimate Deal: Privatizing the Presidency

Dispossessed of jobs and their dignity for a generation now or more, the Trump voters are glowing as they await what they were promised: nothing less than the reversal of a great tidal wave of economic history, the one popularly referred to as globalization or offshoring or free trade.As their unlikely tribune of the plebs, they have elevated a man with businesses in 18 countries, including Trump-branded hotels in India (2), Istanbul, Uruguay, the Phillippines, South Korea, Panama, Rio de … [Read more...]

Lights Coming Back on in Gary

I knew my involvement in civic matters in northwest Indiana would eventually take me to Gary, about 25 miles from my town of Valparaiso. As I’ve driven along Interstate 90 heading to and from Chicago, I’ve often peered down from the expressway into the city’s empty streets and dilapidated neighborhoods. For many long-time residents of the area, the town’s very name is an epithet for a landscape of failure and fear where it’s thought that no one stays who can find a way to leave. I admit I have no … [Read more...]

What I Saw on the Porch

In temporary relief from the ongoing telenovella of our impending national election, we habitues of the Front Porch Republic met up last weekend at the architecture building on the campus of the University of Notre Dame for a daylong celebration of "place, limits, liberty." These annual shmoozefests are always a delight, given the wonderful mix of temperaments and the high degree of literacy displayed everywhere. Amidst a certain Spenglerian gloom, hilarity is always breaking out, I dunno quite h … [Read more...]

Dumb Things I Used to Believe

Having come into the Church as a convert on Easter Sunday, 1986, I am what’s called a JP II Catholic. I remain one, although I would have to explain that adjective differently today, thirty years later.Before Saint John Paul the Great came to prominence, I had already made a summer visit to see up close his country’s great cultural adversary, the U.S.S.R. Given my political views in those days, my travels made it clear to me: we were winning the Cold War, Reaganism was the right way to fight … [Read more...]

A Saint for a New Socioeconomic Order

Saints, G.K. Chesterton once pointed out, are an antidote to whatever the age neglects. Such figures restore the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever it has overlooked.In today’s world of Trumpism, our little band here at the Dorothy Option is arguing that a large dose of Dorothy Day is long overdo for American society. But just as Chesterton juxtaposed brilliantly St. Francis and St. Thomas, the more to underline their complementarity, so we might propose a figure (also with a cause for … [Read more...]

The Importance of Slow Architecture

I've not been to Las Vegas since my high school Latin group stopped there briefly on the way back from the Junior Classical League convention up in Bozeman. But I take it the new resorts look much more glamorous than their original models in Europe, Egypt, wherever. For some tastes, Paris in Nevada trumps (forgive me) Paris in France, even at 50% scale.It's been remarked that theme parks can offer a kind of childlike introduction to a more grownup understanding of civic beauty, of an a … [Read more...]

“Running In and Out with a Flag” (the Distributist League)

“Look here,” G.B. Shaw once gently chaffed his friend and debating partner G.K. Chesterton, “Is there really a Distributist League, or is it merely Titterton running in and out with a flag?”Shaw was referring to W.R. Titterton, the de facto organizer of the League, who once described their meetings thusly:“The formal business of the [Distributist] League was followed by after-meetings in the general bar of the Devereux, where an account by one of the members describes pint pots banging on … [Read more...]

Deconstructing the Corner Drugstore

If you haven't read Jeremy Beer's The Philanthropic Revolution: An Alternative History of American Charity, well then tant pis pour toi, as the French used to say. It's an eloquent historical essay on how we got from a theologically-grounded and localized culture of charity to the technologically-driven, globalist system of institutionalized do-goodery today. From the jacket blurb: "[Beer] exposes the way modern philanthropy's roots are entangled with fear and loathing of the poor, anti-Catholic … [Read more...]

The Next Church and How to Get There

Being a Patheos blogger, you understand, is a pretty cush deal. For example, the folks at Patheos corporate HQ recently offered any interested Dorothy Option contributor a free copy of Joe Paprocki's book, A Church on the Move, in exchange for a few hundred words of comment for the conversation at the Patheos Book Club. I don't know why I agreed to do this--like I really need to own one more book. Maybe there's room for it in the fridge.But I agreed and two days later here's my shiny new … [Read more...]