March 9, 2017

Who knew this about sex and God? Well, the writers of the Bible and the medieval mystics, especially St. Bernard, that’s who! For a recent study on this topic see Denys Turner’s Eros And Allegory: Medieval Exegesis of the Song of Songs. It is constitutive enough that the spirituality of Catholic religious orders is dictated by (hetero-)sexual orientation. One of the most important developments in recent Catholic theology is the return to the nuptial mysticism of these biblical sources and... Read more

March 8, 2017

The sexual revolution appears to have paradoxically liberated our libidos from sex itself. This seems to be the depressing conclusion from a much-publicized study on trends in sex frequency among Americans over the past 20 years as reported by The Guardian: Adults are having sex less often than they were 20 years ago, according a US study based on a survey of almost 27,000 individuals. Researchers have found that adults, on average, were having sex seven fewer times annually in... Read more

March 7, 2017

The matter of privacy is especially dear to intellectuals. Milan Kundera, whom I mentioned in my post about the remarkable film Arrival, has a whole collection of essays surrounding this very topic. Testaments Betrayed is his book about the betrayals of the intentions of high modernist artists, many of them from Mitteleuropa, such as Kafka, Witold Gombrowicz, Picasso, Herman Broch (a favorite author, discovered thanks to Kundera), Heidegger, Stravinsky, and so on. It reads like a really good novel, with plenty of... Read more

March 6, 2017

  The first Sunday before Lent has an exotic name “Quinquagesima Sunday,” which only means it’s fifty days before Easter. As far as I know, correct me if I’m wrong, the first Sunday of Lent does not have a special name other than, maybe, “Quadragesima Sunday.” This is strange, since all the readings on the first Sunday of Lent hone in on the mystery of Original Sin. The Gospel reading takes the dramatic crown by recounting Christ’s temptation in the desert (breathlessly retold... Read more

March 3, 2017

I’m completely enthralled with the question, “Is there anybody out there?” –Fr. Brian Reedy SJ The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration captured the attention and imagination of a global audience late last month when NASA scientists announced the discovery of seven planets orbiting a star dubbed TRAPPIST-1 (an acronym for Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope). These planets are a mere 40 light-years away from Earth, all of which are Earth-sized, and three of which are in the so-called “goldilocks” or habitable... Read more

March 1, 2017

To the outsider the season of Lent might seem like an irrational outbreak of Pelagianism. Believers who come from the Catholic tradition, and the Protestant traditions which are rediscovering the ancient Catholic ascetic tradition, busy themselves with what they’re going to give up for Lent. It all sounds like an Olympiad of will-to-power. The responses run something like, “I can’t believe you’re giving up X for Lent. I couldn’t live without it for so long. You’re so brave!” As I watch this spectacle from the... Read more

February 26, 2017

Light is sweet; at sight of the sun the eyes are glad. However great the number of the years a man may live, let him enjoy them all, and yet remember that dark days will be many. –Qoheleth, in yesterday’s Office of Readings Milan Kundera’s novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being begins with a meditation on the concept of the eternal return of being. This idea sounds a lot like something you might read in the Book of Ecclesiastes. The modern... Read more

February 24, 2017

You’d think that a religious imagination that can produce public intellectuals such as Dana Gioia, Ron Hansen, Alice McDermott, Mary Gordon, Micheal O’Siadhail, Philip Metres, Angela Alaimo O’Donnell in just one generation has a pretty bright future. This is the topic of The Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination conference that I’ll be attending this April 27th through the 29th thanks to a generous grant. I’m really excited to be able to do this, since some of you remember that the Catholic Imagination in... Read more

February 21, 2017

Things are picking up speed here on Cosmos. Books are pouring in for review. This means I’ll be lurching away from the sorts of pop culture posts that were trending last week on this blog. I’ll only say that what’s coming around the bend is something on theology and neuroscience. The most noteworthy book to come in is the following long-awaited Czeslaw Milosz biography by Andrzej Franaszek, which has the authoritative title Milosz: A Biography: Andrzej Franaszek’s award-winning biography of Czeslaw Milosz―the great... Read more

February 15, 2017

In many ways, The Young Pope is the second coming of Brideshead Revisited. In the place of a millionaire with a teddy bear, we have a Pope with a pet kangaroo. Charles Ryder drinks champagne every afternoon; Lenny Belardo downs a Cherry Coke Zero every morning. The stately spires of Oxford have given way to the sumptuous splendor of Rome. And Papa Belardo can be as savagely witty as Waugh himself. [NOTA BENE: many of the links in this post lead... Read more

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