The Surprising Message of “Downsizing”Jan 02, 2018 3 Comments
As I took in the opening scenes of Alexander Payne’s new film, “Downsizing,” and heard a lot of talk about protecting the environment and the dangers of overpopulation, I thought that the movie would be a propaganda piece for left-wing causes. Instead, “Downsizing” amounts to a not-so-subtle critique of that ideology and a surprising commentary on the West's population implosion.
How the “Star Wars” Franchise Lost Its WayDec 26, 2017 69 Comments
I fell sound asleep for about ten minutes during the most recent installment in the “Star Wars” franchise, “The Last Jedi.” This was not only because the narrative had wandered down a very tedious alleyway, but because “Star Wars” in general has lost its way. What began as a thrilling exploration of the “philosophia perennis” has devolved into a vehicle for the latest trendy ideology—and that is really a shame.
“Lady Bird” and the Breakthrough of GraceDec 12, 2017 26 Comments
Greta Gerwig’s new film, “Lady Bird,” has taken the critics by storm. Having seen the coming attractions, I knew it would be a quirky, offbeat comedy, but I had no idea that “Lady Bird” would be of considerable religious interest as well.
Paul VI, ProphetNov 28, 2017 2 Comments
This coming July, we will mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s deeply controversial encyclical letter “Humanae vitae.” But I would like to draw particular attention to a remarkable passage in this encyclical, namely section 17, in which Paul VI plays the prophet and lays out, clearly and succinctly, what he foresees as consequences of turning away from the Church’s classic teaching on sex.
Black Elk and the Need for CatechistsNov 21, 2017 0 Comments
At the November meeting of the United States bishops, I heard an impassioned case for the canonization of Nicholas Black Elk, a Lakota Indian medicine man who converted to Catholicism and eagerly took up the task of catechesis within his community. My prayer is that, if the cause of Black Elk moves forward, we might one day invoke him as a real icon for catechists in the Catholic Church.
The Least Religious Generation in U.S. History: A Reflection on Jean Twenge’s “iGen”Oct 24, 2017 15 Comments
Jean Twenge’s book “iGen” about the generation born between 1995 and 2012 is one of the most fascinating—and depressing—texts I’ve read in the past decade. Her chapter on religious attitudes and behaviors among iGen’ers unambiguously indicates what is leading this most unreligious generation in our history away from the churches.
“Mother!” and the God of the BibleOct 03, 2017 17 Comments
Though it rather clearly reflects the anti-Scriptural prejudice of the cultural elite today, Darren Aronofsky's latest film “Mother!” might actually serve to prompt a re-examination of the deeply ecological themes that run right through the Biblical narrative and the great theological tradition.
Peter Claver vs. Immanuel KantSep 12, 2017 0 Comments
The seventeenth century “slave of the slaves,” St. Peter Claver, dedicated his life to caring for the needs of slaves as they arrived in Cartagena from Africa. According to St. Peter Clever, social justice includes and prioritizes evangelization, a mission which flies in the face of Immanuel Kant's argument that religion is basically resolvable into ethics.
Grace or Karma?Aug 29, 2017 17 Comments
There are two basic approaches to religion throughout the world. The first, found in much of the East, is a religion of karma, and the second, prominent in the Abrahamic religions of the West, is a religion of grace. We devotees of a religion of grace have to know that the gift is not for us alone; rather the generosity of God is meant to awaken a like generosity in us.
Charlottesville and America’s Original SinAug 22, 2017 21 Comments
I vividly remember my first visit to the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Virginia. The splendid Monticello estate with its sordid slave-quarters underground. One could literally see at this great American house the divide, the original sin, that has bedeviled our nation from its inception to the present day.
The Mysterious Church on the Edge of the WorldAug 08, 2017 0 Comments
It is practically impossible to gaze at Mont Saint-Michel without falling into mystical reverie. But to understand this sacred place, we should remember its name and the figure who stands on the pinnacle of the spire, namely, Michael the Archangel.