16 Nov 2020

WE SING

  We sing because God sings, and the great mystery grows among lilies, lilacs and rose while mother dies, and the bell rings in a season we’re still to know.   We sing because God sings over us, a great mystery we each yearn to tone. “I will establish the throne of his Kingdom for ever,” heard Nathan, about a king, a king whose words we weep to sing:                 Restore unto me the joy of

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06 Nov 2020

The Books That Save Our Lives

Book lovers develop their own shorthand for the books that stand out from all the other books they have ever read. This compliment of compliments is unique to each bibliophile. For some it is “books I’ve read more than once.” For avid ebook readers (I have yet to actually meet one but I hear they exist) it may be “books worth owning in hardcopy.” Closely related is “Books I would pack and move across the

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22 Oct 2020

Freedom in the Flesh: A Reflection on Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations”

AAADT in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. Photo by Pierre Wachholder. link. “The rhythms are very strong now. They sustain everyone in the room. All are moving. The music seems to be coming from inside the people as if by their movement they are liberating the sound from within themselves.” Joseph Murray, Santería: African Spirits in America Sitting in the sold-out theater we await the beginning of the production. The space is elegant but not extravagant, with

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31 Aug 2020

DOROTHY AND JACK | Book Review

One reads history, either because of a fascination with prior events, or to learn something of human nature. In Gina Dalfonzo’s latest book, Dorothy and Jack, both readings are richly rewarded. It is a book which adds insight into the lives of both Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis—examining the importance of friendship and providing a call to reconsider male and female friendships in the life of the church. The reader engages these questions as Dorothy

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17 Aug 2020

Infinities upon Infinity: Reflections on Borges’ Library of Babel

The Myth of Babel The Library of Babel is one of those seminal texts to which I must return regularly if I am to feel fully alive. Alongside works like Annie Dillard’s novella Holy the Form, this is art that is best read out loud and pondered, cherished—even venerated. For it informs us deeply of our distinctively human condition. It rips back the veil and exposes our woefully inadequate, time-bound conceptions of God (and God’s

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31 Jul 2020

What Beauty Lurks in the Hearts of Men? Thoughts on Premium Bibles and the Men Who Love Them

My father still remembers listening to old episodes of The Shadow, a popular radio program about a mysterious crime fighter with the unique ability to cloud human minds and render himself invisible. When the mood strikes him, my dad will imitate the gruff voice and ominous laugh of the hero and regale us with the famous opening lines of the “Detective Story” radio hour: “What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

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24 Jun 2020

Podcasts in Review, Two

One of our most popular posts is Podcasts in Review by Eastern Orthodox poet Kenneth O’Shaughnessy. I now present this compendium—with its shamelessly-stolen title—by Roman Catholic non-poet Benjamin Winter. 😊 My qualifications? Since 2014 I’ve listened to podcasts for at least an hour each day. That’s a bit scary when you do the math! They are my constant companions from car rides to laundry-folding sessions, and I fall asleep to them most nights. The recommendations

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27 May 2020

In Lucem Beatissimam

Why squint, O eyes, which love the night, At grey bodies blurred that creep? What hope have you to see the form Of light itself? Veni, Spiritus, da tuis fidelibus sacrum septenarium.[1] Dispel this seven-fold dark.   Love for pleasure inordinate Downward tends me on broken wings. ’Til pierced my flesh with your fear be, I Wallow low. Sancte Spiritus, doce principium sapientiae nobis.[2] Hands kept from evil grasp good.   With sinner’s crowd I

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25 May 2020

Personal Prayers

Virgin Soul (Isaiah 43: 1-8) Like a virgin bride that waits for her bridegroom, my virgin soul waits for You, oh, Lord! My virgin soul waits to be impregnated with Your Word. Speak It in the recesses of my heart, my being, my virgin soul. My beloved speaks in the dark night, early morning, midday, late noon, early evening. He whispers in my ear as I embrace him in my arms:   I have created

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20 Apr 2020

Modern Art and the Sacramental Sensibility

Over the last five years or so, I’ve developed an abiding interest in that most mocked of things: modern art. (Last fall, my long-suffering wife spent about four hours longer in the MoMA than she would’ve liked.) The genesis of that interest was a book I read in law school (thanks to a Conciliar Post recommendation, as it were): Daniel A. Siedell’s God in the Gallery: A Christian Embrace of Modern Art. A few weeks

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05 Feb 2020

A View From Above

How the birds must puzzle as they fly above the Midwest, the Northwest; When they fly over the Great Plains, the Great Mountains.   I flew over the Great Plains. There I saw the grid of man Laid out in straight lines marking plots and straight roads making access a higher priority than aesthetic. To like graph paper we have turned these plains, Upon which to chart yield production and calculate field efficiency; Upon which

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03 Feb 2020

Beauty in the Everyday: Living Aesthetically

For anyone who grew up with a religious background similar to mine (Southern Baptist with a Reformed bent), art was considered as either dangerous or irrelevant to one’s spiritual life. Imagination and experience and creativity were little regarded, while discipline and right-belief were considered the important things for spiritual thriving. But somewhere along the way someone suggested to me that truth, goodness, and beauty all go hand in hand. How, exactly, the three relate I

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03 Jan 2020

Mud beneath the Snow

Snow Every year, Ryan O’Neal, better known as Sleeping at Last, releases a Christmas song for his free Christmas collection. This year it was “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” from White Christmas, a dearly loved classic. However, my favourite offering is further down the list, a song simply titled “Snow.”     The branches have traded Their leaves for white sleeves All warm-blooded creatures make ghosts as they breathe Scarves are wrapped tightly like

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17 Nov 2019

Why I Love Art Deco

Whether we’re talking about churches, universities, or office buildings, in almost every case I’m a staunch defender of architectural classicism. To my mind, the built environment should be more beautiful than dated “modernist” rectangles, grungy Brutalist monstrosities, or deranged postmodern creations: it’s not hard to intuit that there are certain forms that comport with our deepest aesthetic convictions (as traced by Nikos Salingaros in his magisterial Twelve Lectures on Architecture: Algorithmic Sustainable Design). Give me

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28 Oct 2019

Hamilton as a Catholic Allegory

I will admit that I am late to the party. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has been a cultural craze since its debut in early 2015. At the time, I was still a poor graduate student. Only recently were my wife and I able to see the show in Chicago. As we entered, my wife was more excited to see the show than I, but as we left, I was the one charged with energy. From reviews,

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16 Sep 2019

The Phantom

What is the artistic spirit within us that arises, unannounced, to haunt our homes? Today I saw my daughter pounding furiously with pencils upon paper. Brow furrowed, she inordinately assembled a haphazard diaspora of points by means of pummeling. Unsatisfied with one color, she expanded the oeuvre to encompass black, green and grey. The shimmering graphite reflects blindingly into my eyes as I gaze now upon the paper, turning it in my hands and observing

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06 Sep 2019

The Wise Bedouin

“The sands have shifted! The sands have shifted!” Walid shouted as he hurriedly drew back the curtain of the buryuut hajar. “It will be well to change our course, Alim, everything looks different. What I once knew, I know no more. We cannot know where we are; we cannot know where we are going. The storms, the harmattan winds; the landscape is utterly different. How are we to navigate?” Abdul-Alim followed Walid out to survey.

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21 Aug 2019

Book Review: The Sparrow

Why is it absolutely essential that you read two books about Jesuits encountering aliens? I will begin to answer that question in part one of this (largely) spoiler-free review. Deus Vult? A Review of Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow The Sparrow’s opening pages describe a Jesuit mission to an alien world gone horribly wrong. We hear the story from Emilio Sandoz—the book’s protagonist and the sole survivor of a small group who first visited the

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03 Jul 2019

God Is Bad With Money

There was once a wealthy banker who was so intrigued by what he heard about Jesus of Nazareth that he decided to go hear him preach. The banker listened intently to Jesus’ teachings. Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd who leaves 99 sheep just to save one. He told a parable about an important, honorable man who nonetheless lavishly celebrated the return of his disgraceful, disreputable son. And Jesus responded to questions with

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12 Jun 2019

Longings:

Or, Reflections on the Gospel of John in Response to Leonard Cohen I hunger. Bread fills me. I hunger again. I thirst. Wine makes the heart glad. My thirst is not quenched. I question. I have seen all done under the sun. Truth eludes me. I love As the wonder of a man with a virgin. Yet the unity is cracked. I live, Tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing, feeling all these mundane joys, Yet I die.

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