Celebrity and the Absence of Faith

From First Thoughts

In Christopher Beha’s excellent debut novel, What Happened to Sophie Wilder?, writer Charlie Blakeman nearly laughs when Sophie, his ex-girlfriend and a Catholic convert, says she plans to save the soul of her dying father-in-law, an atheist: “I don’t think I knew a single person who would have spoken in that way about saving someone’s soul,” ­Charlie observes. “The religious people I knew talked about their faith apologetically. It was an embarrassment to their own reason and intelligence, but somehow a necessary one.” Continue Reading »

Dogma and Beauty

From the March 2014 Print Edition

The Fine Delight: Postconciliar Catholic Literature 
by nicholas ripatrazone
wipf & stock, 202 pages, $23
Shortly after Robert Lowell’s conversion to Catholicism in 1941, he announced to his horrified wife, Jean Stafford, a lapsed Catholic, that he was instituting a new household regimen. Lowell’s biographer Ian Hamilton described it as “Mass in the morning, benediction in the evening, two rosaries a day. Reading matter was vetted for its ‘seriousness’—‘no newspapers, no novels except Dostoevsky, Proust, James and Tolstoy.’” Lowell, unlike many Catholic writers nowadays, did not fret over a lack of literary coreligionists—the ­giants of the nineteenth and early twentieth century apparently sufficed for him. Today, though, many argue for the value of contemporaneous voices of faith. Continue Reading »