December 14, 2018

getting emotional about Spanish Counter-Reformation painting, as is my wont: The most beautiful and insightful depiction of penance I know does not feature hairshirts, whips or tears. It does not even depict amends for any personal sin. more Read more

December 12, 2018

at First Things: Moving to the other side of the world did not diminish the video’s place in my life as much as I thought it would. It was still the first result when you Googled my name, which presumably is one reason I couldn’t find a job for the first eighteen months. Eventually, I found a position at a think tank. When I released my first report, an Australian MP tweeted a link to the video and asked why… Read more

December 10, 2018

I’m in the Washington Post in re: Pope Francis & gay priests: Homosexuality in the priesthood “worries” Pope Francis. This he made clear in a book excerpt published this month by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, immediately igniting confusion in the Catholic Church, including among the gay laity. As a gay woman who accepts Catholic teaching, I understand the confusion. In more abstract comments, the pope frames gay people as servants of God. But his more direct statements present… Read more

December 8, 2018

The Favourite is a monstrously satisfying movie. This tale of eighteenth-century intrigue in the British royal court has everything: melodrama, self-deception, scheming; opportunistic lesbianism (and maybe other kinds); shooting, poison, slap-kick-kiss; lords in giant fluffy wigs and beauty marks racing ducks. Heartbreak. Ah, I loved this thing, it gave me everything I wanted, including a few things I hadn’t anticipated wanting. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman–all three of the leads are terrific) is an irresolute monarch, controlled by her “favorite” Sarah… Read more

December 8, 2018

I ask the hard questions, at America: At first glance, “The Song of Bernadette” seems as wholesome—and as outdated—as the clink of the morning milk delivery. It’s filmed in black and white, its score is plangent and heavy on the strings, and Jennifer Jones plays the saint at its center with a sweetness and softness that played big to wartime audiences but which, to me, is a little too spun-sugar. It was a huge hit at the box office and… Read more

December 4, 2018

Advent is the season of anticipation, and yet it so often prompts recollection. You look back on the past year; you look back, maybe especially if you had a Christian childhood (the hardest kind of childhood for a Christian to have), at those holidays when you were little. Harrison Lemke, a singer/songwriter whose haunting Genesis-inspired albums I wrote about here and here, has an Advent album called Thy Tender Care, whose songs are set pretty much entirely in memory. The… Read more

December 2, 2018

When I read that pop-history book about the beguines (laywomen who lived in community, basically), I wondered whether beguines paid so much attention to Purgatory, so much that they were even credited with releasing souls to Heaven through their prayers, in part because their spirituality was so influenced by courtly love. If love is passion–if love always comes hedged around by obstacles, by walls of thorn and rings of fire–then perhaps it’s intuitive that God’s love would be experienced by… Read more

November 26, 2018

at The Week: Any book titled Against Memoir will inevitably be a descent into the self. Michelle Tea’s new collection of “Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms” opens with a tribute to Valerie Solanas, who wrote the violent, viciously comic feminist SCUM Manifesto and then shot Andy Warhol; it’s also a portrait of Tea’s own adolescence, centered on her discovery that her stepfather had drilled peepholes in the walls of her bedroom and bathroom. In memory she revisits the scene, spying on… Read more

November 20, 2018

Earlier this year I edited an anthology, Christ’s Body, Christ’s Wounds: Staying Catholic When You’ve Been Hurt in the Church. The essays and poetry in the anthology explored how people who have been deeply hurt by other Catholics—by racism, gossip, financial crime, or various forms of abuse—come to learn that Jesus is not their abuser. The authors offered glimpses of faith they were still reshaping, trust they were still recovering. This has been a hard year to trust God in… Read more

November 19, 2018

which I review for America magazine: There is a moment toward the beginning of Rupert Everett’s new Oscar Wilde biopic, “The Happy Prince,” when Wilde interrupts his welcome-back-from-prison party to declaim, “I met Christ in prison.” His friend Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) quips, “Oh? What was she in for?”, but Oscar is having none of it: “Don’t joke, Reggie.” Everett, who is writer, director and star here, lets you hear all the curlicues in Oscar’s voice, the delectation of his… Read more

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