Larkin’s Heavenly Body

From Web Exclusives

Corpus Christi is the liturgical feast for poetry. The audacious claim that bread and wine become body and blood for the life of the world needs the poet’s dense art to reveal the mystery without pretending to strip it bare. It is no coincidence that one of the Church’s greatest Eucharistic theologians, Thomas Aquinas, also wrote some of Christianity’s finest hymns when the feast was instituted in 1264… . Continue Reading »

Choice Omnia Vincit

From First Thoughts

The wholesale slaughter of unborn girls that has ravaged countries like China, India, and Korea is perhaps the most characteristically modern tragedy, perfectly fitted to a fleshless Internet age. There are no stacks of bodies, no horrified crowds of onlookers, no fiery speeches. Just bureaucracy, . . . . Continue Reading »

Art’s Irrational Infanta

From Web Exclusives

Modern art’s greatest search is for a definition of itself. The meta-question”What is art?”often overwhelms the specific questions of art theory, like the nature of beauty, the use of symbol, and the like. Certainly most of us who have wandered through rooms of concatenated geometric shapes, blank canvases, piles of trash, and splatters of paint have felt, and maybe even entertained, the uncouth question: Why is this art? … Continue Reading »

Now This Is an Awesome God

From First Thoughts

Is the increasing secularism of modern society getting you down? Do you lament the loss of biblical literacy? Do you shed quiet tears when your well-timed comments about bricks without straw fall on deaf ears? Well, weep no more! Ignition Games has finally found a way of making the dusty old Bible . . . . Continue Reading »

Matter over Mind

From First Thoughts

Here’s a fascinating article discussing the findings of experimental psychologist Adrian Raine, who has spent his career researching physical characteristics of the brain that seem to correlate with a future history of violence and psychopathy. My hackles bristled when I saw the article, and . . . . Continue Reading »

The Cold Fire of the Holy Spirit

From Web Exclusives

Human efforts all show their fault lines sooner or later”Rome fell, Communism crumbled, and even the flag on the moon will tip over eventually. But Pentecost is the perpetual reminder that the limits of our strength should lead us to hope, not despair. Strength, and it limits, are the obsessions of Asbury Fox, the main character in Flannery O’Connor’s short story “The Enduring Chill.” … Continue Reading »

The Dying Right to Die?

From First Thoughts

With the death of Dr. Kevorkian a few days ago, it’s worth taking a moment to assess the health of right-to-die movement he fostered. This op-ed from the New York Times suggests that the right to die might be wheezing toward its end, at least in America. The citizens of Washington State and . . . . Continue Reading »

A Religious Pre-History Returns

From First Thoughts

National Geographic has a fascinating article on the recently-discovered Gobekli Tepe religious site. Built around 9600 B.C., the site predates Stonehenge by about 6600 years and places the origins of human religious experience much farther back in the historical progress of our civilization than . . . . Continue Reading »

The Troubling Virtue of Ultra-Violence

From Web Exclusives

Ultra-violence, as A Clockwork Orange’s protagonist reminds us, is an art. Takashi Miike agrees, judging from his new remake of Eiichi Kudo’s Thirteen Assassins (Jusan nin no shikaku). The thirteen warriors slash, spin, and sever their way through hordes of butter-fingered baddies, but the movie is not just a mindless display of butchery; somewhere between the rivers of blood and the piles of bodies, Miike has managed to hide a serious, if perhaps unintentional, discussion of virtue in a virtue-less world… . Continue Reading »

A Sensitive, Affirming Nihilism

From First Thoughts

Many thanks to the New York Times for cluing me in to the existence of Liturgy, a black metal band committed to turning the genre’s deep-seated nihilist beliefs into a positive, life-affirming philosophy. The band’s improbably named lead singer, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, proudly proclaims . . . . Continue Reading »