Dave Brubeck’s long pilgrimage

Dave Brubeck had a problem and, as a short concert intermission turned into a long and mysterious delay, the jazz master sheepishly came back on stage to make a confession.It seemed that his son Chris had locked his electric bass in a dressing room and the Baylor University stage crew couldn't find the right key. Without that bass, the Two Generations of Brubeck ensemble -- pianist Brubeck backed by sons Chris, Dan on drums and Darius on electric keyboards -- was in trouble."I really don't … [Read more...]

The heretical art of Thomas Kinkade

When describing his painting "Candlelight Cottage," the late Thomas Kinkade said its "candlelight has a cozy, intimate quality -- especially when it's suffused in the soft mist of this fine English evening."Actually, the cottage windows are glowing so brightly that the entire interior appears to be in flames.This painting, noted National Catholic Register critic Simcha Fisher in 2011, only makes sense as "a depiction of an oncoming storm, with heavy smog in some spots and total visibility … [Read more...]

Lent and Easter, in blood, sweat and ink

The graphic tattoos that cover the bodies of millions of Russian prisoners symbolize their sins and crimes, their pain and suffering.Some of the tattoos are beautiful and hint at redemption. Others are disgusting, especially those etched involuntarily into the faces of victims by other prisoners as punishment for especially shameful crimes behind bars or on the outside.Put all of these images together, said artist Scott Erickson, and they tell the stories of broken people. That's the big … [Read more...]

Fix your ugly Catholic church?

The sanctuary walls are, as a rule, made of flat wood, concrete and glass wrapped in metals with an industrial look -- often matching the furnishings on the stark altar.The windows are frosted or tinted in muted tones of sky blue, lavender, amber or pink. If there are stained-glass images, they are ultramodern in style, to match any art objects that make sense in this kind of space. The floors are covered with carpet, which explains why there are speakers hanging in the rafters.The final … [Read more...]

Symbols in the Texas hills

KERRVILLE, Texas -- The bracelet is both simple and a bit strange, since it consists of six or seven fishing lures connected end to end.Some people look at this piece of silver or gold jewelry in the James Avery line and they see fishing lures -- period.But other shoppers see the same item and they think of these words of Jesus: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." This is especially true if they have completed a United Methodist Walk to Emmaus weekend, or some other renewal … [Read more...]

Hitchens, Hitchens and God, too

When Peter Hitchens was eight years old, and his older brother Christopher was 11, their father asked the two hotheaded young Brits to sign a peace treaty."I can still picture this doomed pact in its red frame, briefly hanging on the wall," noted Peter Hitchens, in a recent essay published in The Daily Mail. "To my shame, I was the one who repudiated it, ripped it from its frame and angrily erased my signature, before recommencing hostilities. ... Our rivalry was to last 50 years, and religion … [Read more...]

The ultimate movie stigma

As a rule, movie producers do not enjoy seeing America's most influential newspaper crucify their films."Reeking of self-righteousness and moral reprimand," spat Jeanette Catsoulis of the New York Times, a movie entitled "The Ultimate Gift" could be considered "a hairball of good-for-you filmmaking coughed up by 20th Century Fox's new faith-based label, Fox Faith."Wait, there's more, because this "cinematic sermon" makes sure that its "messages -- pro-poverty, anti-abortion -- are methodically … [Read more...]

Graphic novels, big questions

Doug TenNapel isn't your ordinary guy who doodles on a church bulletin when the sermon gets boring.Instead, the Eisner Award-winning cartoonist scribbles in his daily calendar -- creating a bridge from the pew to his studio. The result is a pocket universe of character sketches, strange movie ideas and graphic "plot wheels" in which he works out the twists and turns in his stories.These days, swarms of Kid Elves on flying logs bump into sketches of Bigfoot, next to rough ideas for a violent, at … [Read more...]


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