Coriolanus’s Lonely Love


I'd never read or seen Coriolanus before a group of friends and I went out to see Tom Hiddleston as the eponymous lead in an NT Live broadcast.  During intermission, one of my friends leaned across our block of seats to say, "I've guess this is the methadone to my House of Cards addiction."In Coriolanus, the title character is a great general, but flounders when his friends try to elevate him as a Roman Consul.  His apparent arrogance and disdain for the ordinary people of Rome, who he would … [Read more...]

Mercy is Not Intransitive


The release of Kerry Weber's Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job is well timed for Lent.  If you're of a mind to, you could finish this slim spiritual memoir before Ash Wednesday and let it inform your choices of sacrifices.Weber, a Mercy Associate and managing editor at America magazine, decides that for Lent, she'll try to practice the seven Corporal Works of Mercy:To feed the hungry. To give drink to the t … [Read more...]

House of Cards’ Restless Hearts

hoc cookies

As required of all D.C. residents, my friends and I blitzed through House of Cards this weekend.  (As you can see above, I thought sweet, wholesome chocolate chip cookies would be a nice counterpoint to the bitterly cynical show).  Unfortunately, though I like politics, sneaky ploys, and villainous monologues, I'm still not a big fan of the show, and you can read why over at First Things.  (I was careful to keep my review thematic, so, I think you're safe, even if you're worried about spoil … [Read more...]

Dawkins Doesn’t Sate an ‘Appetite for Wonder’


My March issue of First Things has just arrived in the mail, and, with it, my review of Richard Dawkins's memoir, An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist.  Here's how it begins: Richard Dawkins’ An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist invites comparisons with C. S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy. Both are memoirs by thinkers who seemed a little surprised to end up as apologists, much less as writers whom growing numbers would credit with their conversion or de-conversion. Unfortun … [Read more...]

Reading through 2014 with Pope Francis [Index Post]

open mind faithful heart

Throughout 2014, I'll be reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s collections of meditations: Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Friday, I'll be reading the next meditation in the series (spiritual reading is my Friday discipline) and then posting a reaction on Monday.  Commenters are heartily invited to read along and contribute your thoughts. Part 1: Encountering JesusJesus in Dialogue -- "An Inheritance of Joy" (1/6/ … [Read more...]

In Praise of Particularity?


The newest issue of Fare Forward is out, and I have a review of Stephen T. Asma's Against Fairness in the magazine.  You can read the review in full on Fare Forward's website, but here's a teaser: Stephen T. Asma’s book is titled Against Fairness, but it doesn’t take too long for the reader to discover what he is for. Asma thinks we’ve neglected nepotism, favoritism, and particularity in our relationships and our moral reasoning. Our natural impulse to play favorites is, in his opinion, actively … [Read more...]

Raising the Stakes in Stories

white witch

In her memoir The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia, Laura Miller talks about why she strongly preferred the Narnia books to the Elsie Dinsmore series an aunt pressed on her:  The morality of Elsie Dinsmore was the morality of childhood, where the choice was between obedience and naughtiness. The morality of Narnia was grown-up, a matter of good and evil. A childhood friend echoed her feelings, contrasting Narnia to Oz: There was a certain weightiness to Narnia which really app … [Read more...]