When Coming of Age Feels Like Farewell…

frasier bar mitzvah

Since I grew up on Long Island, there were Bar and Bat Mitzvahs pretty much every weekend in seventh grade.  (No, although I'm descended from Jews on the correct side, I did not have one).  So I was interested in an article in The New York Times about the way the Union for Reform Judaism is experimenting with the ritual and the study that leads up to it. A cursory primer for the goyim: Bar/Bat Mitzvahs mark the transition to adulthood and take place at age 13.  For example, after a bar … [Read more...]

Palms Transfigured Into Ashes

PALM CROSSES

Today's the day that everyone lists what they gave up for Lent (I'm taking on time for lectio divina and giving up going to bed after 1am), but , for me, the more moving sacrifice happened this weekend, on the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. I changed my mind about Christianity the night before Palm Sunday last year, so I've never experienced Ash Wednesday as a believer before.  The first Mass I went to as a Christian was the jubilant Palm Sunday, the welcoming of Christ into Jerusalem and … [Read more...]

Does Anyone Else Pray for Fictional Characters?

Battlestar Galactica

In a Catholic Mass, the whole ritual is subdivided into two basic parts: the Liturgy of the Word (where we read parts of the Old and New Testaments) and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where Christ offers us his Body and Blood.  During the hinge point, where we move from one part to the other, is a section called named the General Intercessions or Prayers of the Faithful where someone will read out a list of prayer intentions for the congregation. I don't quite zone out during this section, … [Read more...]

But Aren’t Saints Dreadfully Dull?

colm valjean

Tonight I'm seeing Les Miserables for the third time (there have been various outings as people have straggled back into DC after the holidays) and, a day or so after my second viewing, I ran across David Denby's pan of the movie for The New Yorker.  Some of the criticisms are fair (the camerawork draws attention to itself in a bad way, Jackman's voice isn't as well suited to Valjean as it was to Curly, etc), but there was one plot-related criticism that I disagreed with big time.  Denby … [Read more...]

“Give Us More To See”

"But how George looks. He could look forever
As if he sees you and he doesn't all at once."

Yesterday, I used Georges Seurat (as imagined by Stephen Sondheim in Sunday in the Park with George) to open up a discussion about the difficulty of pursuing intimacy with God (or, often, other people).  Play!George might approve of my framing a discussion of truth through artifice, since that's exactly how he manages to see and comprehend others in the show.  In "Finishing the Hat" (below), George explains that he can only understand or interact with people from a distance. Entering the … [Read more...]

Finishing the Imago Dei

A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte,_Georges_Seurat,_1884

So, apparently if I host an installment of the Stephen Sondheim film festival the night before a silent retreat, I end up spending a lot of time meditating on Seurat instead of Scripture.  A few weekends ago, I invited friends over to watch Sunday in the Park with George, Stephen Sondheim's musical about Georges Seurat's creation of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.  (It's on Amazon instant streaming, go enjoy!). In the first act, Georges struggles to express himself to … [Read more...]

This Prayer Book is a Stub…

catholic spiritual practices

This month, the Patheos Book Club is reading Catholic Spiritual Practices: A Treasury of Old and New, a collection of description of and reflections on common Catholic spiritual practice.  The book is essentially a tasting menu; each of the twenty-six meditations is only a few pages long.  It's the book equivalent of Lewis's Wood between the Worlds (or Grossman's Neitherlands). This book alone would not be enough to get you engaged in any form of spiritual praxis, but you might end up … [Read more...]


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