April 18, 2019

The Bad Sleep Well is my favorite film by Akira Kurosawa. As with many of his films, it finds its basis in a Shakespearean play—in this case, Hamlet. For my purpose here, its most interesting element is its dissection of Japanese corporate culture: the board members, the salarymen, the suppression of conflict such that it must operate in the shadows, manifesting primarily in decorous putsches. Where Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street offer depictions of greed, most typically… Read more

April 15, 2019

Notre Dame is perhaps the most famous cathedral in the work. And now, it’s on fire. It remains to be seen how much of the structure will remain. A 19th-century spite has fallen and, at least from photographs, the flames seem bright and undeterred. Many relics and priceless artifacts are exposed to destruction. The cause also remains unclear. The whole thing seems shrouded in smoke; what the fire illuminates remains no more available for comprehension. We watch and it burns—paralyzed,… Read more

April 11, 2019

What could this title even mean? In our day and age, “the medieval” is most often made to confront modernity. That’s when Catholics were Catholic, when Protestants didn’t even exist. By contrast, socialism is a modern pan-heresy that exalts the State over and above everything else. The pairing seems unthinkable. And yet, it’s not, according to Fr. Bede Jarrett, O.P. In 1914, he wrote a book entitled Medieval Socialism. I’ve been reading it, and, while it’s filled with some of… Read more

March 29, 2019

I’m no fan of Donald Trump. I wouldn’t say I’m in the #Resistance. My favorite candidates in the current primary are probably Sanders and Warren. I’ve got some love for AOC and mostly find the way the Democrats have chosen to do things over the last couple of years ineffectual, though they’ve achieved some modest successes—like their small victory in the midterms. Trump, however, tells us something about the actual nature of politics, something that the Dems have generally struggled… Read more

March 20, 2019

A debate has been unfolding in the (digital) pages of Church Life Journal: Troutner v. Waldstein, Post-Liberal theology v. Integralism, old v. new. Define it how you will, this back-and-forth reflects larger questions in our culture. These questions are fundamentally about our future—what and who we will become, what sort of world our children will see. As post-war prosperity followed the political instability of the Depression, so we ineluctably speculate about what follows after Trump, Orban, Brexit, and all the… Read more

March 19, 2019

First and foremost, we must pray for the victims, their families, and the assailants themselves. This is inarguably the Christian response: to hold up the innocent and the malicious in hope before a merciful and just God. But prayer, as Pope Francis has reminded us, is also a question of action, of uniting ourselves to the will of God such that we carry it out in this broken world. I am a graduate student; technically, I’m a literary critic. More… Read more

December 26, 2018

The “Left” in my title is indeed political, though one could also take in the sense of the Left Behind series; it would mean much the same thing. In the American context especially (and I’ve written about this before), to be Christian and on the Left is often to feel left out, or left behind, or, at least, generally alienated. Some would not dare speak their thoughts in a parish-related context or, if they do, they’re carefully guarded. I’m not,… Read more

December 23, 2018

This semester I taught “The Bible as Literature” (or, I should really say, I had two discussion sections as a TA—or as we so WASP-ily say “a preceptor”). Never before had I had the opportunity to explore the Scriptures in such an ecumenical way. I had Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish students, which led to a lot of wonderful discussion, both theological and—yes—literary. This was also, however, an opportunity to discover (or rediscover) things in the Bible, most especially those things… Read more

August 7, 2018

This is a tough piece to write. Not because I am ashamed of being Byzantine Catholic, but because I know the topic—even simply the name—cannot help but inspire strong passions. Some Orthodox will rail against Uniatism, against the political machinations of the Latins, forcing good Byzantines into robber unity with the West. Some Latin Catholics will look askance at some Melkites calling Vatican I a local council; their ears perk up at our subtraction of the Filioque from the Creed…. Read more

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