Christian Pop Is Oh So Peppy

Over at my day job, I've done an analysis of contemporary Christian music and traditional shape-note hymns. I took a look at the last five years of Billboard’s year-end top 50 Christian songs1 to see whether Christian pop is unrelentingly cheerful. I looked at pairs of concepts across the entire collection of lyrics2 (life and death, grace and sin, etc.)3 and calculated the ratio of positive to negative words. For every pair I checked, positive words were far more common than negative o … [Read more...]

Christian Ethics: If you understand, I’m explaining wrong…

I've gone on from borrowing books from my fiancé to borrowing books from my fiancé's family, and I've just finished reading Stanley Hauerwas's Resident Aliens: A Provocative Christian Assessment of Culture and Ministry for People Who Know that Something is Wrong.  One of the passages I found most striking is Hauerwas's argument below that Christian ethics should be at least a little repulsive to non-Christians. Christian ethics, like any ethics, are "tradition dependent." That is, they make sens … [Read more...]

7QT: Moms, Pacifist Pilots, and other superheroes

--- 1 --- I'm very blessed to have a friend who joined the Dominican Sisters at Hawthorne, and she reminded me to let you all know that they have some retreats coming up!  It's the kind of thing that is definitely worth looking at, even if you don't long to be a nun. I'm very glad I went on a (non-vocation) retreat with the Dominican Sisters at Nashville -- they had the kind of joy that hits you with a blast (like when you open an oven to check on what's inside). --- 2 --- In a less … [Read more...]

Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” And The Fertility Of Forgiveness

I'm at First Things, reviewing Beyoncé's visual album "Lemonade," which does a remarkable job telling a story about a marriage that is wounded, but not unmade, by betrayal. “Hold Up” is still dreamlike, more of an imagined, idealized anger than actual rage. Beyoncé doesn’t take second swings at her targets, she seems to have no particular animus for anything she smashes. In fact, when she knocks the top off of a fire hydrant, children rush forward to play in the spray; a perfect realization of “ … [Read more...]

Hedgehogs of Redemption and the Comedy of Grace

One of my friends has been coordinating a series of Narnia book clubs, and, prompted by our discussion of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I've written a piece for Aleteia on a particularly farcical gift of grace in that book.The most pleased of the lot was the other lion, who kept running about everywhere pretending to be very busy in order to say to everyone he met, “Did you hear what he said? Us lions. That means him and me. Us lions. That’s what I like about Aslan. No side, no stand … [Read more...]

7QT: Remixes, Underwear, & Fake Fingers

--- 1 --- I'm not going to make you wait for it (wait for it).  The video of the Hamilton cast doing their relyricized opening number to tell the tale of Sweeney Todd is up! (Part of the annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefit)--- 2 --- And, in another interesting bit of Hamilton reworking, there's a nice article on the alternate posters they considered for the show.  (My favorite is below)--- 3 --- And one more charming reenvisioning: the Page F30 blog rewrote an article … [Read more...]

Mercy, Justice, and How To Tell The Difference

I haven't blogged at all about Pope Francis's Apostolic exortation Amoris Laetitia, for the simple reason that I haven't yet read it! So I'm not in a position to analyze it myself or to evaluate other people's takes on it. But Eve Tushnet wrote a reflection for First Things which opens with a good analysis of plain ol' human nature, no pre-reading required: Philip Larkin lamented that whether or not anybody refills your drink at a party “seems to turn on where you are. Or who.” In our divided Ca … [Read more...]


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