May 6, 2016

— 1 — I’m very blessed to have a friend who joined the Dominican Sisters at Hawthorne, and she reminded me to let you all know that they have some retreats coming up!  It’s the kind of thing that is definitely worth looking at, even if you don’t long to be a nun. I’m very glad I went on a (non-vocation) retreat with the Dominican Sisters at Nashville — they had the kind of joy that hits you with a... Read more

May 4, 2016

I’m at First Things, reviewing Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade,” which does a remarkable job telling a story about a marriage that is wounded, but not unmade, by betrayal. “Hold Up” is still dreamlike, more of an imagined, idealized anger than actual rage. Beyoncé doesn’t take second swings at her targets, she seems to have no particular animus for anything she smashes. In fact, when she knocks the top off of a fire hydrant, children rush forward to play in the spray;... Read more

May 2, 2016

One of my friends has been coordinating a series of Narnia book clubs, and, prompted by our discussion of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I’ve written a piece for Aleteia on a particularly farcical gift of grace in that book. The most pleased of the lot was the other lion, who kept running about everywhere pretending to be very busy in order to say to everyone he met, “Did you hear what he said? Us lions. That means him and... Read more

April 29, 2016

— 1 — I’m not going to make you wait for it (wait for it).  The video of the Hamilton cast doing their relyricized opening number to tell the tale of Sweeney Todd is up! (Part of the annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefit) — 2 — And, in another interesting bit of Hamilton reworking, there’s a nice article on the alternate posters they considered for the show.  (My favorite is below) — 3 — And one more charming reenvisioning:... Read more

April 27, 2016

I haven’t blogged at all about Pope Francis’s Apostolic exortation Amoris Laetitia, for the simple reason that I haven’t yet read it! So I’m not in a position to analyze it myself or to evaluate other people’s takes on it. But Eve Tushnet wrote a reflection for First Things which opens with a good analysis of plain ol’ human nature, no pre-reading required: Philip Larkin lamented that whether or not anybody refills your drink at a party “seems to turn... Read more

April 21, 2016

Shakespeare’s 400th death day comes up this weekend, so I’ve done some analysis for FiveThirtyEight on which of his plays wind up taught outside English class (and offered a few recommendations of my own): Psychology students most often encounter Shakespeare’s great madmen: King Lear and Hamlet. Perhaps they’re the ones to blame for the more sexualized stagings of Hamlet’s confrontation with his mother. Oedipal productions of the play are such a trope that, in Jasper Fforde’s modern lit-nerd comedy novel... Read more

April 19, 2016

I’m at First Things, covering the unexpected gap I’ve found in the wedding planning books I’ve been reading. I became engaged at Easter, and, as I’ve started planning our wedding with my fiancé, I’ve noticed a suspicious lacuna in the wedding how-to’s I’ve picked up. I would have thought, after one magazine’s handbook covered strategies for getting your pet turtle to join your wedding procession (they won’t walk down the aisle quickly enough, so you must tow its tank in a... Read more

April 11, 2016

Commonweal has my double review of Acedia and Its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire by R.J. Snell and Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Dow Schüll.  Why review those two book alongside each other? I’m so glad that you asked. Slots, video poker, and other gambling machines are often described as games, but Schüll’s description makes it clear how completely play is lacking from these terminals. Some machines allow gamblers to “autoplay”: they simply insert... Read more

April 8, 2016

I have two speaking gigs coming up in New York City, if you’re in town or have friends who are interested in arguments, statistics or both!   Theology on Tap: “Fighting in Good Faith” April 11, 7:30p 121 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036 How to avoid “agreeing to disagree” while still engaging with curiosity and love.   World Communications Day: “Counting Catholics: A Guide to Telling the Truth With Statistics” May 11, 2:10p 333 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY... Read more

March 29, 2016

On Easter Sunday, my boyfriend proposed to me at Belvedere Castle in Central Park. And I feel the best way to invite you all into my joy is to share the bibliography of our courtship — the favorite books we asked each other to read, the books we read for the first time together, the books it turned out we had both already loved.   A Sense of Direction by William Ball A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken Arcadia by Tom... Read more

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