March 18, 2019

Hm, let’s do this in chronological order of the films’ release. That means we end with the weakest one but hey, I don’t make the rules. ( – a person who just made this rule’s opinion.) …I rented the first three of these on YouTube. Bachelor Mother: A real delight–a Depression-era romantic comedy, released 1939 and deeply marked by economic fears, in which plot contrivances mean Ginger Rogers can only keep her department-store toy counter job if she agrees to… Read more

March 12, 2019

at First Things: When I was a girl, I had a picture book, The Day the Fairies Went on Strike. This 1981 confection by Linda Briskin and Maureen FitzGerald, with charmingly ragged illustrations by Barbara Eidlitz, told a simple story of fairies overworked by their selfish bosses, the Mefirsts. They meet a little girl whose mother is on strike and decide to follow the mom’s example. They win reduced workloads so they can better meet little girls’ wishes. Perhaps under the… Read more

March 9, 2019

BD McClay writes a terrific, gripping piece: In a collection of papers published in 1966, Erwin Straus, a psychiatrist and phenomenologist, examined the ways in which human beings are defined by their ability to stand upright. A person who cannot stand upright, Straus wrote, “depends, for his survival, completely on the aid of others. Without their help, he is doomed to die.”12 But the upright posture and the struggle against gravity that it requires also infuse human life with “an… Read more

March 7, 2019

Primal Fear: A 1996 suspense flick that feels more late-’80s. Richard Gere plays a transcendantly sleazy criminal-defense lawyer who snaps up the case of a young man accused of brutally murdering Chicago’s beloved archbishop. As the trial approaches, the late archbishop’s financial entanglements and sexual crimes begin to come to light, and the defense lawyer has to switch strategies, trying what I refuse to call a Hail Mary pass in order to get his client off the hook. The defendant… Read more

February 22, 2019

the magazine, though also the country: Bishop Knestout is not the only U.S. prelate to have made public acts of self-abasement in penance for clerical abuse. Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., and Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis, Ind., have also publicly prostrated themselves. Bishop Robert Reed of Boston, Mass., spent 24 hours in fasting and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. In a column for his churches’ bulletins, he invited the faithful to join him as he did “the… Read more

February 15, 2019

If you are up-front about your experience of either addiction, or let’s say marginalized sexuality, and you spend a lot of time with Christians from Orthodox or Eastern Catholic churches, eventually somebody will tell you to pray to Mary of Egypt. This is probably a good idea (look at this lady! Do you want to get in her way? Neither does sin) and I do it every night; and yet I am pretty ambivalent about her story, and want to… Read more

February 14, 2019

…mostly for bad reasons. Spoilers below. The Conjuring, from Saw perpetrator James Wan, tells the story of two families: the Perrons, mom & dad plus five totally adorable daughters, and the Warrens, Ed and Lorraine and what Scripture would call their one ewe lamb. The Perrons are nominally Christian but haven’t had their kids baptized yet. Dad (Ron Livingston) is a trucker and since this all takes place in the early ’70s he’s got remarkably, endearingly ugly styling–he has the… Read more

February 10, 2019

Toward the end of 2017, I think, I started doing something which I eventually called “time-travel rosary.” (I dislike this twee name but haven’t found a catchier one.) I dedicated each week to some period in my life, and the people who were important to me at that time. I prayed a decade of my day’s rosary specifically for those people, and offered up–well, not sacrifices precisely because what do you want from me, people???, but any restraint I was… Read more

February 8, 2019

Arts and entertainments from four nations caught in the catastrophe of the century of progress. Or, four very different World War IIs. First, the book: Andrzej Szczypiorski’s The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman, which I read in Klara Glowczewska’s translation. This is a fractal portrait of Poland, in which every chapter follows a different person from prewar life to death. All these people get caught up in one microcosm event: the arrest of Irma Seidenman, who is living under an assumed name… Read more

January 25, 2019

at the Catholic Herald: In 1985, two historians traveled through Turkey and the Middle East together. Robin Darling Young and Susan Ashbrook Harvey started the trip as friends; they came home as sisters. Their bond of spiritual sisterhood was forged in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Here, over what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Mar Dionysius Behnam Jajaweh told Young and Harvey to join their right hands, which he “wrapped… Read more

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