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Books and Art

Book Review: Mike Aquilina’s “The Healing Imperative”

November 20, AD2017 0 Comments
Book Review: Mike Aquilina’s “The Healing Imperative”

Mike Aquilina is one of the most prolific Catholic authors today, having churned out over fifty books as well as numerous essays and articles. The title of his latest book is The Healing Imperative: The Early Church and the Invention of Medicine as We Know It (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing, $18.95). In this slim […]

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Eat, Drink And Be Merry

November 10, AD2017 0 Comments
Eat, Drink And Be Merry

Eat Drink And Be Merry Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. There are several places in holy Scripture where this sentiment is expressed. The one that has been bouncing around my mind since I heard it at Sunday Mass a few weeks ago pertains to the parable of the rich man who […]

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Beauty: An Abundant, Impractical Encounter With God

November 2, AD2017 0 Comments
Beauty: An Abundant, Impractical Encounter With God

Being raised on a farm in rural South Dakota, I believe I understood simplicity and solitude from a young age. While my friends in town spent their summers together at the pool or on adventures, my summers were quieter, filled with reading and finding entertainment with my younger sister. Oddly, the beauty of where I […]

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The Poetry of Molly McCully Brown: A Theology of Broken Bodies

October 30, AD2017 1 Comment
The Poetry of Molly McCully Brown: A Theology of Broken Bodies

Molly McCully Brown‘s The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded is a magnificent collection of poems, depicting the experiences of profoundly disabled persons who, shunned by mainstream society, are institutionalized and hidden from view. These are people whose bodies fail them so thoroughly they seem less than human. For Brown, these profound disabilities reveal how […]

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Seeking Jesus: An Interview with Author Julie Davis

October 3, AD2017 0 Comments
Seeking Jesus: An Interview with Author Julie Davis

We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it. – Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water In her second […]

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A Baby’s Corpse: The Disingenuous Eucharist of “mother!”

October 2, AD2017 1 Comment
A Baby’s Corpse: The Disingenuous Eucharist of “mother!”

Darren Aronofsky’s film mother! starts out well enough, making masterful use of its setting and cinematography and centring on stellar performances from Jennifer Lawrence as Mother and Javier Bardem as her husband Him, a writer. And then it falls apart, climaxing with a woefully trite parody of the Mass, particularly as it is connected to […]

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Do Catholics Watch Film like Fundamentalists?

September 20, AD2017 0 Comments
Do Catholics Watch Film like Fundamentalists?

The silence of the Catholic critic is so often preferable to his attention. -Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being Too much Christian “criticism” of film revolves around tallies of bare boobs, f-words, and the like, or sounding the alarm at perceived hostilities against Christianity, but Larsen I respect for his willingness to let the filmmakers […]

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If You Like Game of Thrones You Will Really Like the Bible

September 16, AD2017 0 Comments
If You Like Game of Thrones You Will Really Like the Bible

What series am I describing? Murder. Kingdoms. Thrones. Vengeance. Games. The rise and the fall of civilizations. Swords. A cast of profoundly varied personalities and nuanced characteristics. Power struggles. Misguided ideals. Dominion. Plots and subplots and pretext and context. Multiple popular literary genres. An array of different languages, cultures, tribes, and legal systems. The intricacies […]

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The Young Pope: Popes Are People, Too

August 26, AD2017 0 Comments
The Young Pope: Popes Are People, Too

The Young Pope, written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, is premised on what is apparently a radical idea: that popes might experience spiritual growth even during their pontificate. Unsettling Catholics expecting a pope with more certainty in his spiritual life and baffling secular critics who don’t know how to recognize or discuss a spiritual journey, […]

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The Problem with Poetry in Our Time

August 25, AD2017 4 Comments
The Problem with Poetry in Our Time

Why talk about poetry? It might not seem an urgent concern. It certainly isn’t a “hot-button issue.” Our thoughts, however, would be impoverished if we devoted them only to the latest controversy over Pope Francis, the new dismaying scandal, or whether our country will collapse. Even in harsh times, the things that make human life […]

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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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