Costumes, Constraint, and Chapel Veils


In my high school theatre productions, our director encouraged us to start working on assembling costumes early.  Especially shoes.  Once you had something of your character's, you could start using it to feel less like yourself, and stop doing things by rote.  If you had nothing else, he said, you could put a pebble in your shoe so you were a little less comfortable in your normal stance. I'm on a plane all day, so, since I ended up without the opportunity to dress up for Halloween, I thought I' … [Read more...]

Getting a Sense of Sin

punch in face

I've just finished Francis Spufford's Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense.  He's pretty good at solving yesterday's problem of explaining your faith without getting bogged down forever in background information or just staying bland.  In one section I particularly liked, he talked about the difficulty of explaining Christianity in a language that's littered with Christian ideas that have drifted from their technical meanings. Everyone kn … [Read more...]

What ornate vestments you have, Father! All the better to…


Because my computer has shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible, the Atheist round results from the Turing Test will probably run Friday or Saturday, once I've got a replacement.Over at Fare Forward, I've taken a crack at reviewing Gary Wills's book Why Priests? A Failed Tradition and, if you want a very quick glimpse of how I felt about it, here's how the review kicks off: The first priest that Garry Wills takes aim at isn’t a man in a cle … [Read more...]

Triaging Moral Disagreements


Excel and I are having a fight, so the Turing Test results will go up tomorrow, after I beat the program into submission. In the meantime...Calah Alexander and Melinda Selmys had two really great reaction pieces to Pope Francis's interview that I'd like to share.  First up, Melinda Selmys has an essay up at Spiritual Friendship titled "Field Hospital for the Wounded."  She picks up on Pope Francis's language, and expands the metaphor to talk about how to evangelize without exacerbating t … [Read more...]

Recommendations for the Lives of the Saints


I've just finished reading Sigrid Undset's life of Catherine of Siena, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that most of my knowledge of the lives of the Saints comes from Wikipedia.  Admittedly, Catherine was no less terrifying at book length than in a short article, but sitting down with Undset's book helped me take her in a bit more in toto, instead of as a timeline of miraculous acts and grotesque suffering.But I haven't read many other hagiographies.  I've read G.K. Chesterton's lives o … [Read more...]

7 Francis Takes (9/20/13)


 As you've probably heard, Pope Francis gave a broad ranging interview to America this week, and if everyone is going to pick out quotations (with or without context) I figured I could offer seven that interested me this week (with brief, non-authoritative commentary).  --- 1 --- Other people have covered the lovely simplicity of Pope Francis's self description [excerpted below] but I was just charmed at the multilingual pope needed to reach for an invented gerund to express … [Read more...]

“Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?”


Looking through social media this morning, I saw more than a few scandalized comments about the news that a priest who had practiced some form of self bondage was being returned to ministerial duties.  Here's the gist: The Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield, Ill., has returned a priest to ministry after an internal investigation into what the priest’s own clinical therapist had diagnosed as “non-sexual self-bondage.”Bishop Thomas Paprocki said in a statement that the Rev. Thomas Donovan wo … [Read more...]