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Books and Art

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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The Problems with Christian Film

September 21, AD2016 11 Comments
The Problems with Christian Film

This past August, Maclean’s published an article called “What would Jesus watch? Behold a new era in Christian film,” by Jaime Weinman, in which he says that in 2014, there were more so-called “Christian” films than there were comic book superhero movies. Some of these films were even relatively profitable, such as War Room, which […]

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Sexuality, Reality, and the Sacramental in Knight of Cups

September 7, AD2016 1 Comment
Sexuality, Reality, and the Sacramental in Knight of Cups

  “The artist penetrates the concrete world in order to find at its depths the image of its source, the image of ultimate reality.” Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners A few months ago, I offered a commentary on Terrence Malick’s film To the Wonder, outlining the relationship it depicts between the love of eros and agape, […]

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Fr. Calloway Interview on “Champions of the Rosary”

August 12, AD2016 5 Comments
Fr. Calloway Interview on “Champions of the Rosary”

The rosary is not just for little old church ladies and pious nuns locked up in convents. It’s been prayed by brave soldiers, young martyrs, brilliant scientists, key political figures, and recently, a hopeless hippie drug addict. But the real question is: why should everyone, including and especially you pray the rosary? Fr. Donald Calloway, […]

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Strange Dignity: Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God

July 21, AD2016 7 Comments
Strange Dignity: Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God

Lester Ballard, main character of the novel Child of God, commits murder, necrophilia, sexually harasses women, and is generally considered to be crazy. This being a novel by Cormac McCarthy, the most shocking thing about him is none of these. Rather, it is the suggestion that he might still have dignity, like anybody else, and […]

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Book Review: “Invited” and Interview With Author Stephanie Calis

June 30, AD2016 2 Comments
Book Review: “Invited” and Interview With Author Stephanie Calis

I have one regret about my wedding day. “Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner” penned by Stephanie Calis had not been published then. “Invited” is the one book you need as soon as you become engaged. It is the book you will want to gift your children or best friends or sisters when they get […]

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Jane Austen’s Paradigm: Family As Gospel

June 8, AD2016 3 Comments
Jane Austen’s Paradigm:  Family As Gospel

It is remarkable that for over two centuries now, and in our present time, Jane Austen’s writings are still popular. Why is this so? This question’s answer is profound in its simplicity and truth. Question: Why Why do soldiers in deadly combat enjoy Jane’s writing? (Due to her impact on many who read her and […]

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Book Review: Everyday Sacrament and Interview with Laura Fanucci

June 2, AD2016 2 Comments
Book Review: Everyday Sacrament and Interview with Laura Fanucci

When I saw that the eloquent Laura Fanucci, who blogs at Mothering Spirit, had written a book “Everyday Sacrament” published by Liturgical Press, I had to read it and interview her. “Everyday” is a collection of essays on a mother’s life from infertility to expectancy to birth and beyond with theological reflections on the Sacraments. […]

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New Life/ New Song

May 29, AD2016 2 Comments
New Life/ New Song

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!” ~ Psalm 96:1 In 2012, if someone had said I’d one day be a musician, I probably would’ve politely turned the conversation around. It wasn’t that I was against the idea. (Who hasn’t dreamed of being a big rock star?) Or that […]

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Sexuality without Procreation in The Children of Men

May 25, AD2016 1 Comment
Sexuality without Procreation in The Children of Men

The English author P. D. James is likely best known for her murder mysteries, but especially worthy of discussion is her science fiction story The Children of Men. Set in the near future, there has not been a baby born for twenty-five years. In this story, partly told from the perspective of Theo Faron, a history […]

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Why C.S. Lewis Would Want You to Join a Writing Group

May 13, AD2016 4 Comments
Why C.S. Lewis Would Want You to Join a Writing Group

When J.R.R. Tolkien retired from his post at the University of Oxford in 1959, he intended to spend his new-found free time finishing The Silmarillion. Though this book is less well-known than his Lord of the Rings, Tolkien considered it his real work—the work he’d spent decades trying to get back to. One can easily […]

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