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...]

Fighting Weaponized Acedia

Commonweal has my double review of Acedia and Its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire by R.J. Snell and Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Dow Schüll.  Why review those two book alongside each other? I'm so glad that you asked. Slots, video poker, and other gambling machines are often described as games, but Schüll’s description makes it clear how completely play is lacking from these terminals. Some machines allow gamblers to “autoplay”: they simp … [Read more...]

Engagement, A Bibliography

On Easter Sunday, my boyfriend proposed to me at Belvedere Castle in Central Park.And I feel the best way to invite you all into my joy is to share the bibliography of our courtship -- the favorite books we asked each other to read, the books we read for the first time together, the books it turned out we had both already loved. A Sense of Direction by William BallA Severe Mercy by Sheldon VanaukenArcadia by Tom StoppardBed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by … [Read more...]

Oy gevalt, here’s some spiritual reading

I'm tuckered out from liveblogging last night's debate for work, so no quick takes this week. Instead, I'd like to send you over to Catherine Addington's tumblr for an excellent reflection on the Transfiguration.  Here's the part that really struck me. (The quoted bit is from St. Francis de Sales, the next bit is from Catherine).Let me remark first of all that in eternal felicity we will know each other, since in this little spark of it which the Savior gave to His Apostles He willed that … [Read more...]

Unfiltered isn’t the Same as Authentic

Given my love of the anti-entropic call to arms of Diane Duane's So You Want to be a Wizard, I guess I'm an easy mark for John Gardner's description of good art in On Moral Fiction: But trivial art has no meaning or value except in the shadow of more serious art, the kind of art that beats back the monsters and, if you will, makes the world safe for triviality. That art which tends toward destruction, the art of nihilists, cynics, and merdistes, is not properly art at all. Art is essentially s … [Read more...]

Books on deck for me in 2016

According to my Goodreads account, I read 260 books this past year (that comprised a total of 81.203 pages).  And sixteen of those were books I specifically set out to read in last year's Books on Deck post.Overall, I think it worked out great to make a list of books I meant to get around to, even if I missed six of the ones I put on my list.  It helped give some urgency to the books I kept meaning to read, in general, but never picking up -- I finally had a reason to let them (sometimes) pre … [Read more...]

Lewis, Chesterton, and Card on Our Tolerance for Mystery

I had the pleasure of speaking at Doxacon (a scifi/fantasy convention for theology nerds) in November, and the audio of my talk ("Chesterton, Lewis, and Card on Worldbuilding and Our Tolerance of Mystery") is now available for streaming!  Here's the prècis: When a reader picks up a fantasy or science fiction novel, he or she trusts the author to reveal enough of the new world and its laws to be able to follow the stakes of the plot, but not so much as to wind up closer to a DnD rulebook rather t … [Read more...]


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