The Power of “Heteronormativity”

For twenty-five years, the term heteronormativity has been a strategic usage. The basic definition isn’t complicated. Heteronormativity is the act of interpreting heterosexual desire as the normal, natural way of human being and society. The term doesn’t signify the normal-ness of heterosexuality. It signifies the disposition to normalize it.For twenty-five years, the term heteronormativity has been a strategic usage. The basic definition isn’t complicated. Heteronormativity is the act of interpreting heterosexual desire as the normal, natural way of human being and society. The term doesn’t signify the normal-ness of heterosexuality. It signifies the disposition to normalize it. Continue Reading »

Celebrity and the Absence of Faith

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 »

Christmas in Harvard Square

Christmas in Harvard Square is the first recording of the St. Paul’s Choir school, the only Catholic boys’ choir school in America. Led by Mr. John Robinson, a former assistant from Canterbury Cathedral, the boys take their music and their faith seriously. Continue Reading »

A Witness, in Life and Letters

Born in Britain in 1923, and educated at Eton and Oxford, Philip Trower is a Catholic writer of notable achievement. This alone merits attention—as there is much talk about the relative dearth of Catholic authors today—but Trower’s life and work offer something more, as they speak to questions that are being asked within the Church today. Continue Reading »

Gnosticism 2.0

Humans typically situate their divinities at the border of the cosmos. The Israelites and Babylonians understood the solid sky to represent the edge of the created order and placed gods there accordingly. Whether YHWH or Marduk, deities reside at the farthest limit of the world. Modern science has expanded the cosmos so far beyond the ancient imagination that not only do we now find the idea of divinities living in the sky absurd, but we cannot even place new gods at the edge. There is neither absolute space nor privileged location in the new, constantly expanding universe. Continue Reading »

The Last Man and the First Man

Scanning half a dozen major journals for obituaries devoted to the most important mystery writer of our time, P. D. James (1920–2014), I was astonished to find that not one of them mentioned her serious Anglo-Catholicism, much less its shaping presence in her fiction. This, despite one murder occurring in a church (A Taste for Death, 1986), a novel set in a theological college (Death in Holy Orders, 2001), another named Original Sin (1994), still another titled directly from the Book or Common Prayer (Devices and Desires, 1989), as well as an apocalyptic Christian allegory (The Children of Men, 1992). Continue Reading »

My Year in Reading

Every December since my college days a few friends and I have started an email thread to swap stories of our reading experiences over the course of that year. We follow a typical top-ten format, often mimicking the two or three-sentence recap style of similar lists that appear increasingly early, like the post-Halloween Christmas marketing blitz they augment, in periodicals and websites. But we go deeper than that, too, trying to discern patterns in our interests and correlating our reports with what we’d enjoyed or endured outside the pages of books in the intervening months. Continue Reading »