Colbert’s Double Game

The cognoscenti tell me that Stephen Colbert, who is a self-identified faithful member of a Church that teaches that homosexual inclinations are intrinsically disordered and that sodomy is a mortal sin, is a smart guy—a really smart guy. Evidently, his shtick is to adopt the persona of a certain type of individual whom he regards as intellectually and morally inferior to himself so that he can ridicule people of that sort. This, I’m told, is the kind of humor that people who watch Stephen Colbert, who is a self-identified faithful member of a Church that teaches that homosexual inclinations are intrinsically disordered and that sodomy is a mortal sin, relish. Continue Reading »

“The Art of the Beautiful” Lecture Series

Announcing the the Art of the Beautiful Lecture Series. The Catholic Artists Society and the Thomistic Institute present a series of lectures on a Catholic understanding of the Arts. Eminent artists, theologians, and writers will be exploring the nature of art and its role in society. Continue Reading »

Take Me to Church

Dear Hozier: Your overtly theological song titles lured me in. “From Eden”? “Take Me To Church”? Once I read some of your anti-Church comments, I girded my theological loins for a smackdown; I didn’t want to like you. But, as it turns out, I think you’re really good. Your sound is hypnotic, many of your lyrics poetic (comparatively speaking). I like the fusion of blues, jazz, pop, and gospel. There is a pulse and a crackling sparseness and a dark beauty to many of your songs. I’ve had your album on repeat on Spotify for the past week, despite myself. You’ve stirred my lingering desire to become a singer-songwriter—nearly enough for me to pick up my guitar. Continue Reading »

Politics and the Arts

Jed Perl warns in the August 25 issue of the New Republic of a new threat to the arts. Art for art’s sake has been displaced by a view of “art as a comrade-in-arms to some more supposedly stable or substantial or readily comprehensible aspect of our world.” Art is losing its “purposeful purposelessness” and is becoming a bondservant to “some more general system of social, political, and moral values.” It’s hardly news, Perl knows, when art is enlisted for some extra-artistic cause. The new danger is that many have drawn the conclusion that “art has no independent life.” Continue Reading »

John Updike the Blogger

Every critic knows that John Updike was a gleeful child of his age, but did he rise above it? The common complaint against him is that the greatness of his style eclipsed the thinness of his substance, and Adam Begley’s new biography, full of insightful and sympathetic detail, does little to dim such prejudices. Begley portrays Updike as a man who could not stop writing and as a writer who could not stop thinking about himself. For Begley, in fact, Updike comes across as America’s first (and finest) blogger. Continue Reading »

The Scandal of Calvary

Is it possible for a film to capture the horror of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church while at the same time presenting a case for the necessity of the institutional priesthood? Against all odds, this is exactly what Irish director John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary manages to do. Father James (played with magnificent presence by Brendan Gleeson) is a good priest, if a haunted one. He is a widower and an alcoholic with a suicidal daughter and a parish full of troubled townspeople in rural Ireland. One afternoon a parishioner confesses to him that he was serially raped by a now-deceased priest as a child, and as a way of taking revenge, he will kill Fr. James in a week. Continue Reading »

Life Under Instant Replay

When taking stock of how far we haven’t come, I find myself reliving the early morning hours of July 27, 2011. Late-night comics have relinquished the airwaves to diet pill peddlers, city buses have ceased running here in Atlanta, and even Manuel’s Tavern is turning out the last of its regulars. South of downtown the Braves and Pirates play on, sweating through the nineteenth inning on a field approaching dewpoint. A journeyman Braves reliever, batting for lack of other options, hits a routine grounder to third. Breaking on contact, a baserunner pushing forty—also playing for lack of other options—sprints toward the plate, a kamikaze attempt at the winning run. Continue Reading »

Weird Al Just Committed the Greatest Word Crime of All

He takes care lest by a slip of the tongue he use the ablative instead of the accusative for ‘among men,’ but is unconcerned that by the fury of his mind he might cast a man out from among men” (Conf. 1.18.29). The particular pet peeves of the self-appointed language police have changed since the fifth century, but St. Augustine would surely recognize the same phenomenon active today. He might conclude, though, that we’ve sunk to a new low: today’s peevers tend not only to lack charity, but to lack even a good grasp of the language they imagine themselves to be defending. Continue Reading »