September 14, 2019

One of the central points of Gavin de Becker’s terrific book The Gift of Fear is how often we (especially we women) talk ourselves out of listening to our fears. Something seems off–about this person, this relationship, this joke, this dark alley–and yet we tell ourselves not to be so suspicious, not to be hysterical, it’s only a joke, surely I’m imagining things. And de Becker points out that our instinctive sense of something wrong in a situation, something not… Read more

September 13, 2019

The Trouble with Angels: An essentially charming confection from 1966, set in one of those stern-but-fair ’50s and ’60s Hollywood Catholic schools. Ida Lupino directs a script by Blanche Hanalis based on Jane Trahey’s novel, and if that lineage makes you think this will be a delightful plunge into a world made by women for girls, you are correct. Hayley Mills is the innocent scapegrace constantly getting her best friend into extremely wholesome trouble before facing the stern-but-fair Mother Superior… Read more

September 10, 2019

People of Earth! Two years ago Revoice became, as far as I know, the only ecumenical conference for lgbt/same-sex attracted Christians who accept the Church’s teaching that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. I’ve been to both of the conferences so far and they have been amazing experiences. In a way I’d never experienced, I was among my people. Today they’re raising funds not only for Revoice 2020, which I can’t recommend highly enough!!!!, but also… Read more

September 6, 2019

& review for America: What we remember are the pictures. Children of the ’80s through the ’00s—the heyday of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, whose first installment was published in 1981—will tell you that the stories themselves, by Alvin Schwartz, were only O.K. It is true that we think of them now and then: the grisly nursing school prank; the bride who played hide-and-seek and got trapped in a trunk. Eerie phrases do float through our… Read more

August 31, 2019

It can be hard to tell gifts of the spirit From clever counterfeits… –Mountain Goats Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory. I’d read this before (of course?) but didn’t remember it well. It took me a while to warm up to this harrowing story of a demoralized, alcoholic priest in hiding from Mexican Communist authorities. Looking back, I respect the decision to open with “the bystanders”–the local dentist, the pious family, the surrendered priest-husband Father Jose, and of course… Read more

August 26, 2019

Some notes and quotations I had to leave out of my intro-to-Salo article due to space constraints. They talked for over an hour. Near the end, after they’d been sitting in silence for a while, Burns said quietly, “Do you know what Christ died of?” Rivers looked surprised, but answered readily enough. “Suffocation. Ultimately the position makes it impossible to go on inflating the lungs. A terrible death.” “That’s what I find so horrifying. Somebody had to imagine that death…. Read more

August 25, 2019

A couple thoughts on the Pauline counsel, “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” as applied to gay people. Now and then I’ve heard the argument that the Church must bless gay marriage, because mutual care and sexual fidelity are preferable to either isolated despair or promiscuity. This position often goes along with an argument that lifelong celibacy is impossible and spiritually damaging for most, and available only to those who have a “gift” for it (citing… Read more

August 23, 2019

at America magazine: There are 13 directors whose films are recommended by the Vatican for their depiction of religion, but not all led lives notable for their sanctity. And one went on to direct the most notorious art film of all time. It is unlikely that the Vatican will ever praise “Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom,” the last movie Pier Paolo Pasolini filmed before his murder. Yet that film’s anthropology—its account of what it means to be human—is… Read more

August 17, 2019

Relatively short reviews of three new(ish) albums by indie musicians who are various stripes of Christian. Three very different approaches, even within the extremely narrow subgenre of “guy with crackly kinda difficult voice and a million emotions tries not to despair, while playing the guitar.” In, iirc, order of album release. The Mountain Goats, “In League with Dragons.” I love the Mountain Goats. Somebody got me to listen to this thing (trigger warning: No Children) and I was instantly hooked…. Read more

August 13, 2019

I was in London recently for a family vacation. Lots of new discoveries, including Sue Symons, whose beautiful, emotional depictions of scenes from the Hebrew Bible were on display at Bath Abbey. She’s also done a New Testament series, and I’d really recommend them for your delight and meditation. I also saw “Six,” a pop musical about the women mostly known to us as items in a list: “Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.” This is a pop confection, tarted… Read more

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