Wonder and Beauty: 5 Christmas Gift Suggestions for 2020
on November 26, 2020 at 12:00 am
Books and music are (in my very decided opinion) among the very best gifts that one can give. They invite the recipient into an experience that can be enjoyed again and again, and this experience is one that can be shared and talked about—thus deepening bonds of friendship and family connections. And the purchase of books and music enables writers, artists, and musicians to keep on creating, for “the laborer deserves his wages” (1 Tim. 5:18). With that in mind, I’ve come up with five gift recommendations with a particular emphasis on beauty, joy, family, and fellowship. Where possible, I’ve provided links that allow one to purchase more directly from the author or artist. Enjoy! 1. In Caelo et in Terra: 365 Days with the Saints by the Daughters of St. Paul. This book of saints’ lives, with included devotional reflections, is a…
“The War of the Worlds”: The 1950’s Sci-Fi Classic is Faith-Friendly
on November 25, 2020 at 12:00 am
Science fiction as a genre is not known for being particularly friendly towards religion. Especially in contemporary sci-fi, which is highly secularized, religion is at best ignored or scorned as the relic of an unenlightened past best forgotten. At worst it is treated with naked hostility, reviled as an enemy of freedom and progress. That’s why I find it so refreshing to watch the classic 1953 sci-fi film The War of the Worlds, based on the 1898 novel of the same name, by science-fiction pioneer H.G. Wells. Endlessly imitated—and even remade in 2005 by Steven Spielberg—but never equaled, the 1953 version of The War of the Worlds remains a classic of the sci-fi genre as well as an emotionally gripping and visually stunning film. But most striking to a modern viewer is the movie’s unapologetic embrace of a Judeo-Christian worldview. Christianity and prayer are portrayed throughout as positive forces.
Narcissus and 2020: Peering Past the Surfaces
on November 24, 2020 at 12:00 am
We are all familiar (or at least should be) with the myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a young and dashingly handsome demigod. The son, according to some experts in Greek mythology, of a river god and a nymph, Narcissus wandered about hunting and looking beautiful. Women far and near lustily admired him but despaired at his inattention. Echo, a particularly charismatic nymph, was rebuffed by the young man and, in her heartbreak, was cursed and reduced to little more than the answering voice that haunts us in vast canyons and caverns. Such was the punishing allure of Narcissus. But Nemesis, the goddess of anger, had had enough. She cursed the young man—the original Narcissist—with the burden of only ever loving himself. And so it was that this aloof breaker-of-hearts would catch his first glimpse of himself on the sheen of a pool’s surface and fall madly and irretrievably in love.
The “Clash of Freedoms” Demands the Columban Principle
on November 23, 2020 at 12:00 am
Today is the memorial of a saint who is not well known by most but has something important to teach us about our call to unity in Church and society. St. Columbanus (or St. Columban as he is also called) was an Irish monk, born in 543, who died in Bobbio, in Northwest Italy in 615. In 591, St. Columbanus left his monastery in the north of Ireland, arriving in France before moving to Switzerland, Austria, and finally settling in Italy. In these countries, he founded important monastic holdings, which became centers of education, community, and spirituality and played a vital role in the renaissance of Christianity in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire and the revival of civilization thereafter. As a monastic founder, St. Columbanus left a significant body of writing and instruction, much of which was concerned directly or indirectly with the theme of unity. Columbanus’…
Advent Reading: These Books Can Help Bring the Light
on November 20, 2020 at 12:00 am
The glorious season of Advent is almost upon us and not a moment too soon. Between the ongoing pandemic, lockdowns, election stressors, civil unrest, ongoing issues within the Church and (given the ongoing restrictions on worship) “without,” it risks nothing at all to say that 2020 has been a problematic pip of a year, from start to finish. And we’re not done yet. It is a true measure of just how stressful the year has been that “we’re not done yet” sounds more like a threat than a mere fact. But Advent is coming! Lovely Advent! Expectant, hopeful Advent! The season that invites us to breathe deeply and look outward in the sort of “joyful hope” we Catholics talk about but rarely—most rarely, this year—feel. This is the season that shakes us from our torpor as early night comes, and the match is struck, and the message is brought home…