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  • Abortion on TV: Inefficient Life Feeds Art March 5, 2021
    On February 19, 2021, Kate Cohen, a contributing columnist for the Washington Post, published a piece called “On TV, Abortion Is the Road Less Traveled. Life’s Not Like That.” In it, Cohen relates being upset at a recent episode of the television show Atypical, where a character discovers she is pregnant and decides to have […]
  • Meeting Willa Cather Via “Death Comes for the Archbishop” March 4, 2021
    I must reveal a gap in my education and invite people along while I expand my mind. Willa Cather is an important name in American literature (that much I have learned tangentially over the years) but I must have been playing hooky when she came up in class (I blame myself, not the schools). Cather […]
  • “Think It, Desire It, Speak It, Act It”: St. Katharine Drexel on Racial Equality March 3, 2021
    If it were reported by news outlets today, the headline would read, “Heiress Gives Up Two Hundred Million.” In 1889, after years of wrestling with a desire to enter the religious life, St. Katharine Drexel decided to give it all away, trading her fine gowns and linens for the black and white habit and exchanging […]
  • ‘The Sound of Metal’: Achievement and the Search for Authentic Minimalism March 2, 2021
    I write these words on my thirty-ninth birthday. Like many unmarried thirty-somethings living in California, I have lived a life of great and varied pursuits, achieving all of my goals. I’m part of the “be all you can be” and “never give up on your dreams” generation. I earned a master’s degree in teaching English […]
  • Why Vatican II Still Gets “No Respect” More Than 50 Years On March 1, 2021
    The other day, I met a Catholic school principal who told me her school is a “Vatican II school.” I asked her what makes it so and—no joke—she showed me some balloons and banners.  “No respect,” Rodney Dangerfield might have said as he worried his tie, “no respect.” These words come to mind as I […]
  • A Dose of Glory: Lauryn Hill’s “Miseducation” Goes Diamond February 26, 2021
    In the late summer of 1998, Lauryn Hill released what is widely considered the greatest hip hop album of all time, and one of the greatest albums of any genre, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It is a unique blend of R&B, gospel, soul, reggae, and rap recorded mostly at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studio […]
  • Hints of the Transcendent in the Science Fiction of Ray Bradbury February 25, 2021
    While he is perhaps best known for his critically acclaimed dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury thought of himself primarily as a writer of short stories. Often wedged in between Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke as one of the “ABCs” of twentieth-century science fiction, Bradbury’s work is remarkably divergent in style and substance from […]
  • Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy”: A New Translation Helps to Better Understand a Classic February 24, 2021
    This month, the Society of G.K. Chesterton announced the publication of a new book titled Orthodoxy: An American Translation, which should immediately provoke confusion among Chesterton fans. Didn’t Chesterton write in English? Why do we need a translation? What does it even mean to translate English into English? And why is this book, with its […]
  • The Present You Want Is Not the Gift You Need February 23, 2021
    Some time ago, in the feverish throes of buying a book for a good friend’s birthday, I had an epiphany. Wrapping the book in colored paper and neatly nestling it in the gift bag, my wife asked me what I had purchased. After naming the book and smiling at my own thoughtfulness, my wife quipped, […]
  • Memento Mori: Remember That You Have to Die February 22, 2021
    Do you remember when you first realized that you would eventually die? I do. Each summer, my family visited my great aunt’s cottage on Christie Lake in southwest Michigan. Sometimes my sisters and I were left there with our grandmother for the week. Besides swimming in the lake and playing cards, there wasn’t much to […]
  • “Lost in Thought” and “The Dig”: Let the Cult of the Amateur Arise! February 19, 2021
    We need more amateurs. In her new book Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of the Intellectual Life, Zena Hitz, a practicing Catholic and Tutor in the great books program at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, makes the case for the life of the mind for everyone. Hitz has a PhD from Princeton, but […]
  • For Lent, Let’s Imagine Scripture to Refresh Our Prayer February 18, 2021
    The story goes that St. Ignatius of Loyola, while recovering from a severe wartime injury, filled a three-hundred-page notebook with what some might call “daydreams of Scripture”—a way of passing the heavy hours on his hands that actually developed into an important practice of prayer within what has become known as Ignatian spirituality.  Anyone who […]
  • Why Christina Rossetti’s “A Better Resurrection” is Lenten Food for 2021 February 17, 2021
    One of the counter-intuitive blessings of Lent is that it is long enough to be tedious. It’s simply not possible (at least in my experience) to keep up a state of intense spiritual activity for the whole forty days (or forty-six, if we count the Sundays of Lent). Forty days is time enough to start […]
  • Here Comes Lent! Let the Saints Help Us Out February 16, 2021
    A friend in seminary once shared how all of the students would try to “outdo” one another during Lent. They would wake up to screams in the morning because a handful of them gave up hot water and couldn’t hold back their wailing during that icy morning wake-up call. Some of them wouldn’t be able […]
  • Herbert McCabe and What Faith Is and Isn’t February 15, 2021
    One of the greatest Catholic thinkers of the twentieth century was Fr. Herbert McCabe. He is also one of the most underappreciated. Though he was a Dominican and (naturally as such) greatly influenced by St. Thomas Aquinas, it is said by those who know his work best that he was rather uncomfortable being called a […]
  • Catholicism: “Safety Third” February 12, 2021
    For several years, television and podcasting personality Mike Rowe has been sharing the slogan “safety third,” which he developed while hosting the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs. Rowe notes that, in practice, the ubiquitous “safety first” is never true. At best, it’s third. For most jobs, government policies, domestic activities, and even leisure pursuits, there […]
  • Lenten Reading Suggestions for 2021 from the Word on Fire Institute February 11, 2021
    In Chapter 48 of his Rule, Saint Benedict writes of Lenten reading: “During this time of Lent each [monk or nun] is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through. These books are to be distributed at the beginning of Lent.” The books an abbot or abbess […]
  • Superbowl 2021: Ads for Unity and Life Sow Tears and Fears February 10, 2021
    Growing up in rural Oklahoma, I remember that football was everywhere. From the pep rallies of the high school gym to the hometown parades, you couldn’t escape it. I happened to be the odd man out. I had zero interest in playing, or attending games. As a budding photographer and filmmaker, I’d spend 90 percent […]
  • On the First Duty of Intelligent People February 9, 2021
    “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” These were the opening lines of what should have been an otherwise mundane book review of Bertrand Russell’s Power: A New Social Analysis. Penned for Adelphi in 1939, its author was George Orwell.  Curiously, […]
  • St. Josephine Bakhita: Light in a Needful World February 8, 2021
    The life of St. Josephine Bakhita, whose feast we celebrate on February 8, is one of extraordinary strength in the face of suffering, and of heroic forgiveness in the face of the cruelty of others. This Sudanese saint, who was a niece of the chief of her village, was kidnapped by slave traders in 1877 […]

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