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Books and Art

Sex, Desecration, and Shame in Terrence Malick’s Song to Song

July 21, AD2017 0 Comments
Sex, Desecration, and Shame in Terrence Malick’s Song to Song

As Roger Scruton says, “Sex is either consecration or desecration, with no neutral territory in between.” That’s essentially the thesis of Terrence Malick’s recent trilogy of films: To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, and now Song to Song. To the Wonder opens the trilogy by, in accordance with Pope Benedict XVI, emphasizing that the loves […]

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Artist Jonathan Byrne and The Face of Christ

June 26, AD2017 6 Comments
Artist Jonathan Byrne and The Face of Christ

Jonathan Byrne is a professional mid-career artist who lives in the coastal town of Blackrock in Dublin, Ireland. After many years of making images and exhibiting at home and abroad, he returned to a subject that has always enthralled him, the Face of Christ. The images, of which there are over 30 in different colours, […]

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The Despair of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

June 19, AD2017 2 Comments
The Despair of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has a host of artistic problems, but its most profound failures are of moral understanding. Whereas the original novels by J.K. Rowling embraced the Christian sanctity of life, understanding that death was an evil, and expressed hope for repentance and forgiveness of sins, this late coming play, written by […]

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In the Tangle of Our Minds: “Thoughtful Theism” by Fr. Andrew Younan

June 8, AD2017 0 Comments
In the Tangle of Our Minds: “Thoughtful Theism” by Fr. Andrew Younan

There are any number of reasons to believe that a God exists. But actually proving that God exists is much harder. And once you prove that a God exists, you still have to connect said God to the God of Christianity. Philosophy is hard mental work; most of the bad ideas driving our culture today […]

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Dali & Grunewald – Two Images of Crucifixion

May 17, AD2017 2 Comments
Dali & Grunewald – Two Images of Crucifixion

Two Images, One Lord It would be difficult to name a person who is the subject of more works of art than Jesus Christ. For each such work, in a very real sense, every painting, sculpture, drawing, carving, mural, and crucifix reveals an artist’s vision of Jesus. Salvador Dali painted a famous image of Jesus, […]

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What’s Wrong with the (Postmodern) World: Catholicism and Intelligence, by Fr. James V. Schall

April 25, AD2017 0 Comments
What’s Wrong with the (Postmodern) World: Catholicism and Intelligence, by Fr. James V. Schall

  Jesuit philosopher Fr. James V. Schall has been described as “America’s Chesterton,” according to the cover blurb from theologian Tracey Rowland. Like G. K. Chesterton, Fr. Schall has a talent for making philosophy accessible to the average person, the mark not only of the true sophisticate but also of the good teacher. But also […]

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Why Do We Need The Benedict Option?

April 21, AD2017 8 Comments
Why Do We Need The Benedict Option?

The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher is, at the end of the day, underwhelming. That’s not all its own fault; it arrives amidst much hype, hype which turns out to be rather disproportionate to its more modest aims. On one hand, it’s not clear that those who characterize Dreher as telling Christians to head for the […]

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Art: A Glimpse into the Beauty of God

March 25, AD2017 1 Comment
Art: A Glimpse into the Beauty of God

There is something about art that touches the soul. Whether it be a breathtaking painting, a powerful poem, or a song that speaks to the heart, art- in all forms- has the unique ability to transform, uplift, and inspire. In my own life, there have been many instances in which I have been profoundly impacted […]

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Jane Austen’s Morality Of Marriage

March 16, AD2017 0 Comments
Jane Austen’s Morality Of Marriage

In our time, according to one of several divergent moralities, an act is a heinous hell-damning sin, while another morality will validate that same act as a heaven-winning act of virtue. This was not so in Jane Austen’s world. There was a generally accepted familial, communal and societal code of conduct – a morality – […]

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Words: Rough-Hewn Symbols or the Stuff of Thoughts?

March 9, AD2017 1 Comment
Words:  Rough-Hewn Symbols or the Stuff of Thoughts?

“I write so that I can find out what I think.” – Flannery O’Connor. A really great quote is both polyvalent; containing multiple layers of meaning, and paradoxical; containing meanings which appear to be at odds with each other. This Flannery O’Connor quote for example, sounds like it could come out of the mouth of […]

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HBOs “The Young Pope” is Absurdity Masquerading as Art

February 2, AD2017 5 Comments
HBOs “The Young Pope” is Absurdity Masquerading as Art

If you have not been watching HBO’s The Young Pope you haven’t missed anything of any consequence.  All you’ve missed is some really well photographed surreal absurdity. If Italian writer/director Paolo Sorrentino is Catholic, or was raised Catholic and still claims to be Catholic, he needs to go to confession. Yesterday, if not sooner.  And […]

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Weak Love and Moral Culpability in Shusaku Endo’s Silence

January 28, AD2017 3 Comments
Weak Love and Moral Culpability in Shusaku Endo’s Silence

Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence, of which a film adaptation by Martin Scorsese shall soon be released, is concerned with the deeply unsettling portrayal of a situation in which one’s faith seems to make irreconcilable demands. Set in 1643, after the Japanese persecution of the Catholic Church forced Catholics underground, Silence recounts the story of Fr. […]

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Shusaku Endo’s Silence and the Divine Command to Sin

January 7, AD2017 4 Comments
Shusaku Endo’s Silence and the Divine Command to Sin

Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence is one of the most unsettling novels a Catholic could read. Recounting the story of Portuguese Jesuits facing martyrdom and persecution in seventeenth-century Japan, Endo does not hesitate to pose to his characters – and readers – the most difficult moral dilemmas imaginable regarding persecution and apostasy, and even whether God might […]

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The Exorcist: Theology of the Possessed Body

November 26, AD2016 6 Comments
The Exorcist: Theology of the Possessed Body

Even with its interest in the spiritual realm, William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist is, as befits a story about possession, still very much concerned with the material realm, specifically the human body’s functions, abilities, and appearance. In the novel, the goal of possession, as I discussed in “Faith, Doubt, and Analysis Paralysis in The Exorcist,” is to […]

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5 Catholic Books For You And Your Teen

November 26, AD2016 1 Comment
5 Catholic Books For You And Your Teen

If you’re on the hunt for Catholic books for you and your teen, here are five to choose from: How I Stayed Catholic at Harvard by Aurora Griffin is an all-inclusive spiritual and practical guide for every young adult leaving the nest for the jungle.  ‘How I Stayed Catholic’ is charmingly seasoned with the author’s […]

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Beauty in Entertainment and God

November 22, AD2016 1 Comment
Beauty in Entertainment and God

Last June, I went to see a movie with my father and my brothers.  This movie was entertainment intended mainly for an audience of children.  Partway into the film, I started to feel uncomfortable due to a few crude jokes added to the movie to make the adults in the audience laugh. That same month, […]

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Saint Teresa of Calcutta Through the Lens of a Friend

November 18, AD2016 4 Comments
Saint Teresa of Calcutta Through the Lens of a Friend

The Power of Images To Change Lives Marie Constantin, the photographer and author of Finding Calcutta: Memoirs of a Photographer, understands images have power, more power than words alone to impact lives. It was an image in a documentary film that turned Constantin’s life completely around in the early 1990’s. She was a young journalist, completely focused […]

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Faith, Doubt, and Analysis Paralysis in The Exorcist

November 8, AD2016 0 Comments
Faith, Doubt, and Analysis Paralysis in The Exorcist

Most stories about exorcism following in the wake of William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist (and its film adaptation) tend to portray the Catholic Church as some sort of Justice League fighting the forces of darkness. They clumsily point to the existence of grotesque demonic forces as proof for God’s existence. Blatty however, shows more sophistication. He […]

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Struggling To Hear God In the Silence? Try Colouring

October 13, AD2016 4 Comments
Struggling To Hear God In the Silence? Try Colouring

I  recently spoke on the phone with Tara. M. Owens, CSD, MTS, the author of At Play In God’s Creation- an illuminating coloring book. This book is not a fluffy bit of New Age nonsense but based on Tara’s profound grasp of both traditional, Catholic spirituality and human nature. She has learned exactly how to help people be in the […]

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Good Characters in a Culture That Can Only Read Hell

October 7, AD2016 0 Comments
Good Characters in a Culture That Can Only Read Hell

Fr. James Lavelle: I think there’s too much talk about sins and not enough about virtues. Fiona Lavelle: What would be your number one? Fr. James Lavelle: I think forgiveness has been highly underrated. -John Michael McDonagh, Calvary A friend of mine once asked if The Divine Comedy is the greatest achievement in human letters. […]

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