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Culture

Tom Stoppard, Freedom Fighter

Tom Stoppard, Freedom Fighter

Tom Stoppard, the witty British playwright most famous for his mind-bending twist on Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, is the feature of an Observer article on human rights. Stoppard’s plays are like Samuel Beckett by way of Oscar Wilde, with detours to Bardland—postmodern riffs on Big Themes like love and death and liberty, but with Wilde-worthy one-liners. This might make him a curious choice for a conversation about human rights, except for the fact that Stoppard’s personal history and literary preoccupations… READ MORE >

(2) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    drama | freedom | human rights

Culture

Adam and Eve make a stand in California

Adam and Eve make a stand in California

You connect the dots: A California couple refuses to submit to the state’s new “gender-neutral” marriage license that replaces bride and groom with “Party A” and “Party B.” Buried within a Scientific American article on storytelling and the brain (cited by John Murphy below) is a fascinating discovery made by “literary Darwinists” about the universality of romance and sex roles: “The idea of romantic love has not been traditionally considered to be a cultural universal because of the many societies in which marriage… READ MORE >


Science/Tech

Secrets of storytelling

Secrets of storytelling

Having just read a collection of masterful short-stories by Tobias Wolff, the issue of what makes storytelling such an intrinsic, necessary part of the human condition has been at the forefront of my mind. An article in the most recent issue of Scientific American approaches this age-old question from a left-brained perspective: “Popular tales do far more than entertain. Psychologists and neuroscientists have recently become fascinated by the human predilection for storytelling. Why does our brain seem to be wired to enjoy stories?… READ MORE >

(5) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    brain | cognition | empathy | love | storytelling

Culture

Vatican Searching for Next Raphael. Or Roy Lichtenstein?

Vatican Searching for Next Raphael. Or Roy Lichtenstein?

The Catholic Church used to be Western Civ's pre-eminent patron of art and architecture. But the past few hundred years have seen the Vatican slowly transition from commissioner to collector, safeguarding the long and luminous tradition of Church art. Tantalizing signs of change are looming, however. Newsweek is reporting on the Vatican's recent plans to reach out to the modern art world and reignite the dialogue between Church and artists: "This fall, the Holy See hopes to revive its cultural side by searching for artists willing… READ MORE >

(3) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    architecture | art | patron | vatican

Culture

#110 Stuff White People Like

#110 Stuff White People Like

The Atlantic has an interesting commentary on the popular blog site, Stuff White People Like (also now a New York Times bestselling book). The website features mini-essays by Christian Lander, a PhD dropout now famous for skewering the tastes and mores of ‘White People’—alternately called ‘bourgeois bohemians’ and the ‘educated elite’—that curious class of soi-disant progressives that vote Democrat and pursue ‘personal happiness’ as the highest good while attempting to define “themselves… READ MORE >


Politics

The Democrats are Blowing the Election—and the Catholic Vote

The Democrats are Blowing the Election—and the Catholic Vote

The best thing about how the Democratic Party is kicking away what should be an easy victory in the November presidential election is that it might force them to finally reassess their support for abortion and gay marriage, positions that are unpopular with working class voters, their natural constituency. A subplot here is how the Dems were actually making inroads among faithful Catholics fed up with George Bush—until Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden opened their mouths in public about Catholic moral theology. A front pagearticle in today’s… READ MORE >


Business

The Church on the financial meltdown: Usury and speculation are to blame

The Church on the financial meltdown: Usury and speculation are to blame

If there’s anyone in the mainstream media willing to listen to the Church these days (I doubt it), they’ll discover that centuries of Catholic teaching about the sinful practices of usury and financial speculation can explain why Wall Street is tumbling down. (For the best technical explanation, read The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash, by Charles Morris, a Catholic, and frequent contributor to Commonweal). Put very simply, usury is lending money at punishingly high interest rates,… READ MORE >


Culture

David Foster Wallace, postmodern moralist, dead at 46

David Foster Wallace, postmodern moralist, dead at 46

The apparent suicide of David Foster Wallace, the prodigiously talented author of the novel Infinite Jest, is a sad, stunning end for a writer whose best work burst with unflagging energy and propulsive imagination. Though often lumped with postmodernists like Thomas Pynchon, Wallace's fiction had a deeply-felt humanity and breadth-of-scope that could recall Dickens at his wild-and-wooliest. Though Infinite Jest, a roughly thousand-page doorstopper, will no-doubt prove Wallace's literary legacy, some of his best writing was bite-sized:… READ MORE >


Politics

David Brooks explains the Republican Party’s Catholic problem

David Brooks explains the Republican Party’s Catholic problem

In a NY Times column today called “The Social Animal,” David Brooks pinpoints exactly why so many Catholics hold their noses every four years as they vote Republican for president merely because of the party’s stance against abortion and gay marriage.   As any Catholic who’s watched a Republican convention knows, the GOP is about individualism—“the stout pioneer crossing the West, the risk-taking entrepreneur with a vision, the stalwart hero fighting the collectivist foe,” as Brooks describes it. We’ve heard… READ MORE >


Movies

Alfred Hitchcock: Mistaken Identities

Alfred Hitchcock: Mistaken Identities

The Times Literary Supplement just ran two reviews of recent books about Alfred Hitchcock, the iconic filmmaker whose morbid Catholicism bled into the edges of such classics as Vertigo, I Confess, and Shadow of a Doubt. His movies—popular entertainments in their own time, snubbed by critics and award-givers—have since become the subject of exhaustive theoretical analysis, picked over by feminists, queer theorists, postmodernists, Catholics, and students of film. Paula Cohen, the reviewer, writes: “He (Hitchcock) was able to make… READ MORE >

(0) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    guilt | hitchcock | suspense

Politics

Pro-Life vs. Family Values? Is Newsweek’s Jacob Weisberg promoting eugenics?

Pro-Life vs. Family Values? Is Newsweek’s Jacob Weisberg promoting eugenics?

The culture war is back, stronger than ever, with the liberal media completely flummoxed over how to handle Sarah Palin. But what’s really thrown them is Bristol Palin’s unwed teen pregnancy, and the Republican Party’s surprisingly warm-hearted, non-judgemental response to it. How else to explain Jacob Weisberg’s bizarre column, “Whatever Happened to Family Values” in the latest Newsweek (a slightly different version is on Slate.com). In the column Weisberg accuses conservative Christians of hypocrisy… READ MORE >


Faith

Christian Witness in the Aftermath of Hate

Christian Witness in the Aftermath of Hate

I was ordained a priest on May 23rd. My life now is bound more intensely than ever to the central Mystery of our faith, the Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I never imagined that so soon in my priestly life would I see the Eucharist attacked so publicly. You may have seen these stories in the press. On June 29th, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Webster Cook, a student and member of the student government at the University of Central Florida, took the Eucharist “hostage” in order to protest the use of University money to… READ MORE >


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