Reviews

Here’s what we think about the Oscar nominees for Best Picture
Here’s what we think about the Oscar nominees for Best Picture cfreeman Fri, 02/15/2019 - 16:11 Advertisement
These diverse films won’t win an Oscar—but here’s why you still need to see them
These diverse films won’t win an Oscar—but here’s why you still need to see them osegura Fri, 02/15/2019 - 16:43 Advertisement
SCR034: The Secrets of Jurassic Park III
Continuing their series on the Jurassic Park movies, Dom Bettinelli, Fr. Michael Gossett, and Thomas Sanjurjo come to the third installment, which is the first without Spielberg at the helm. Could it be best of them all? Does the return of Dr. Alan Grant mean a return to the fun of the first film? The post SCR034: The Secrets of Jurassic Park III appeared first on SQPN.com.
‘Green Book’ and the stories Americans like to tell ourselves
‘Green Book’ and the stories Americans like to tell ourselves Tim Reidy Wed, 02/13/2019 - 16:47 Advertisement
Are Gaelic games the real religion of Ireland?
The GAA and the War of Independence by Tim Pat Coogan (Head of Zeus/an Apollo Book, £20.00) The Gaelic Athletic Assoc–iation (GAA) promotes, across the whole island of Ireland,  Gaelic football, hurling, ladies’ Gaelic football, camogie and handball. However, it does not concern itself solely with organising these sports. With the Irish language, Irish music and dance, and Irish folklore it is an integral part of our Irish heritage. Moreover, when the need arises, at different times to a greater or lesser extent, it wraps itself in the green flag of Irish nationalism and patriotism. And, as the influence of the Catholic Church declines, it is becoming more and more a cornerstone of Irish society – perhaps even the cornerstone, especially in rural communities. It builds a sense of local life with local people essential to the identity and identity of many people’s sense of themselves. The pews are emptying, the stadiums are packed. That sense of identity is at the heart of journalist and historian Tim Pat Coogan’s new book – significantly published by a British publisher. As he relates, the GAA was founded in Thurles, Co Tipperary, on November 1, 1884. From the outset it was infiltrated by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). This organisation had been established in 1858 and organised an unsuccessful rebellion in 1867. Thereafter it determined to promote its separatist aims by secret means, not least by infiltrating strategically important institutions, such as the GAA. The co-founders of the GAA were Michael Cusack, Maurice Davin, J.K. Bracken, John McKay, Joseph O’Ryan, Thomas McCarthy and John Wyse Power. Acceptance A teacher from Co Clare and a member of the IRB, Cusack was a key-figure in the early years of the organisation. He invited Archbishop Thomas William Croke to be patron of the new athletic and sports organisation and the latter’s acceptance, dated December 1884, became the GAA’s Magna Carta. Croke soon made it clear that he did not wish the new sporting body to be a tool for the IRB to be deployed in the promotion of revolution and violence. His involvement was providential. Following attempts by the IRB to take over the Central Council in 1887, the GAA threatened to dissipate into scores of pro- and anti-IRB factions. Croke managed to heal those serious rifts and to ensure that the GAA did not become the property of the IRB and that it subsequently attempted to steer clear of party politics. It was inevitable that members of the GAA would be caught up in the revolutionary period 1916–23. Many of those who rallied to the Irish Volunteers in 1913 were members of the GAA. Of the 2000 participants in the Easter Rising in 1916, 300 were members of the GAA. Later they were prominent and key-figures in the war of independence and the subsequent civil war. As the war of independence increased in intensity, the British authorities made little distinction between members of the GAA and those of the IRA. This was made clear when in a reprisal for the assassination of intelligence officers in Dublin the Crown forces launched an attack on a fixture at Croke Park on November 21, 1920, which left 30 civilians dead and scores injured. Such was the indiscriminate and ferocious nature of the attack that it became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. Later members of the association were to the fore in the healing process following the civil war. With the community in which it flourished the GAA and its members were subjected to discrimination and injustice in Northern Ireland from its beginnings in 1921. In more recent times the so-called ‘Troubles’ were particularly challenging. At that time loyalist murder gangs claimed that members of the GAA were ‘legitimate targets’ and as a result some players and administrators were assassinated and pitches and property were systematically vandalised. Five of those who died in the hunger-strikes of the early 1980s were GAA members. This prompts the author to provide a valuable account of that tragic period and the manner in which the GAA authorities successfully managed those times. Following the Good Friday Agreement the official environment in the North  vis-a-vis the GAA greatly improved. However, it continued to be far from ideal, as is evidenced by the saga concerning the attempt to re-build Casement Park. This book is an important account of the role of the GAA and its members in the war of independence. At times the author’s asides are even more interesting and informative than the main narrative, wherein uncharacteristically there are a few Homeric nods. The post Are Gaelic games the real religion of Ireland? appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
World religion and our contrasting ways of reason
The Territories of Reason: Science and Theology in an Age of Multiple Rationalities by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford University Press, £25.00) Frank
 Litton   The world is changing; nothing surprising in that. Change is the norm. What is interesting and even disturbing is the growing sense of disorientation. The maps that guide us fail. The political landscape no longer corresponds to our map. We find it difficult to locate Trump, Brexit and the growth of populism in its contours. More seriously, we look at the map and struggle to find a direction that would avoid catastrophic climate change. Of course, it is more accurate to speak of maps-political, economic, religious. The most important of our maps, the one first sketched by the ‘enlightenment’, locates us in the modern world. The more specialised maps orientate themselves within it. This poses no problem for politics and economics. It is a problem for Christianity. ***** The map’s cartographers give priority to science. While the way the world impresses itself on us, the feelings it provokes, are important, they are, nonetheless, subjective and cannot be relied on. What we need are the objective accounts that only science can provide. Science is the only path to truth and our surest guide. Christianity makes claims that are not amenable to scientific proof, and indeed appear to contradict the laws of nature and so it is deemed irrational. How to reconcile the Christian’s map with the dominant modern map is a problem. Alister McGrath addresses it by questioning the notion of rationality that supports the claim for science’s priority. Prof. McGrath holds doctorates in both molecular biophysics and theology. He has published extensively on the relationship between science and theology. He is director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at the university of Oxford. ***** In this short, dense, book that draws on the work of many philosophers, he challenges the simple-minded reductionism that would make science the sole path to knowledge. The essential mistake of the reductionist is to suppose that all our engagements with reality are efforts to do science. Religion is in competition with science to explain how the world works. Terry Eagleton, quoted by McGrath pithily demonstrates the error of this: “Believing that religion is ‘a botched attempt to explain the world’ is about as helpful as ‘seeing ballet as botched attempt to run for a bus”. Put another away, the scientist who goes to Mass and reflects on what it teaches and what he learns, knows about something as real as his different engagements in the laboratory. If we abandon the role of philosopher or critic and simply attend to how humans engage with the world, we find different ‘rationalities’ in play. We visit a court, for example, and find lawyers arguing according to the stringent standards of legal rationality. Or we visit a laboratory and observe a scientist pursuing the ‘scientific method’. If we immerse ourselves in the theology collection of the Central Catholic Library on Merrion Square, we find evidence of hard intellectual grind as theologians dispute what best meets their discipline’s criteria. This ‘bottom up’ approach that delivers a plurality of ‘rationalities’ contrasts with the ‘top down’ approach that seeks a unity in the plurality in one comprehensive view. Some are content with the plurality, preferring a number of maps to just one that distorts. Prof. McGrath while recognising the plurality, nonetheless, seeks a harmony between science and theology. He succeeds in showing that this is a rational endeavour and points to how it might be accomplished. That our maps fail us is disturbing. They were serviceable, and they did indeed guide some of us to a good place. But we have hardly reached the promised land. We can hope, and perhaps expect, that the many efforts to redraw them, of which this book is a fine example, will allow us find a better track. The post World religion and our contrasting ways of reason appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Young bassist the cream of excellent crop at the NCH
Pat O'Kelly   In the presence of its indefatigable nonagenarian artistic director, the 2019 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition drew an interesting contingent of young singers to the National Concert Hall at the end of January. For the first time in the triennial competition’s history, auditions were held abroad with jury chairman Jane Carty and artistic administrator Dearbhla Collins travelling to the US and various European capitals interviewing potential candidates. From 160 hopefuls, 38 young artists – representing China, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, the UK and US – were chosen to compete. The cosmopolitan jury included veteran conductor Richard Bonynge, soprano Orla Boylan, winner of the first competition in 1995, Peter Carwell of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, which promotes young US opera singers, John Gilhooly, Irish-born director of London’s Wigmore Hall, Olga Kapanina casting director of Moscow’s Bolshoy Theatre, Andreas Massow from Munich’s Bavarian State Opera and Evamaria Wieser, artistic administrator of the Salzburg Festival and a casting consultant with Chicago’s Lyric Opera. Following preliminary rounds,  the jury whittled the starting 38 down to 16 for the semi-finals and then to six for the operatic-arias-finale with the RTÉ NSO, directed by Laurent Wagner. Making a welcome return, Laurent Wagner had been the RTÉCO’s principal conductor from 2003 to 2006. In the event, first prize of €10,000 went to British bass William Thomas (24) following his Stravinsky, Gounod and Rossini – ‘La Calunnia’ from The Barber of Seville. I found his interpretations showing plenty of character while in his semi-final I enjoyed Mussorgsky’s ‘Song of the Flea’ and, producing excellent diction and recalling Peter Dawson’s wonderful old recording, Katie Ross’s ‘The Floral Dance’. Polish soprano Joanna Kędzior (24), whose bel canto phrasing in Bellini and Donizetti had a special allure, took the €5,000 second prize. If I had reservations about her over-serious approach to Musetta’s ‘Waltz Song’ from Puccini’s La Bohème, Ms Kędzior was also the recipient of the €500 Joan Sutherland Prize for the most promising young singer. Expressive in arias from Tchaikovsky’s Yevgeny Onegin and Wagner’s Tannhäuser, where he created a telling atmosphere, UK baritone Theodore Platt (24) took the €4,000 third prize. Besides his €3,000 fourth prize, in memory of the late Margaret Quigley’s generous support of the competition, US baritone Emmett O’Hanlon (28), who must surely have Irish connections, also captured the €1,000 Audience Prize – no doubt for his panache in Figaro’s ‘Largo al factotum’. Ukrainian baritone Yuriy Hadzetskyy (26) left with both the €2,000 fifth prize and €500 Oratorio Prize – this latter presented by Alison Young in memory of her husband William.  While I might have ranked him higher on the winners’ roster, Canadian countertenor Cameron Shahbazi (26) accepted the €1,000 sixth prize. Coloratura arias by Mozart and Handel emphasised his vocal prowess and flexibility. Maybe his vibrant green jacket disconcerted the jury! Donated by Jane Carty in honour of her late husband, the Wil Keune Prize was awarded to UK soprano semi-finalist Claire Lees (31). ‘Et incarnatus est’ from the C minor Mass ensured her €1,000 for the best performance of a Mozart aria. The post Young bassist the cream of excellent crop at the NCH appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
The real Hemingway of Twitter
Mainly About Books by the Books Editor   Since Donald Trump took office as President of the US, the world has been fascinated, indeed mesmerised, by his daily use of short tweets to express his changing opinion, his unfocussed anger at friends and enemies (often there seems little distinction), and announce, often daily, new and often unexpected policy directions. The President sees himself as having special skills in the use of tweets. Recently he proclaimed that he was, in effect, “the Hemingway of the tweet”. That kind of remark is likely to set a literary minded person thinking. As a result of my own musings, I have news for the President: the Hemingway of the tweets is in fact Hemingway himself. With the exception of A Farewell to Arms (1929), these days I find little to admire in what Hemingway wrote after the Sun Also Rises in 1926 – the title comes from a passage in Ecclesiasticus, a scripture which is only to be found in Catholic versions of the Bible. (For many years, readers and critics alike have debated Hemingway’s religion and his position as “a marginal Catholic”. Recently, however, Matthew Nickel in his critical overview, Hemingway’s Dark Night: Catholic Influences and Intertextualities in the Work of Ernest Hemingway (New Street Communications, $22.95 / £17.50), asserted that Hemingway’s Catholic faith was much more important to him than previously believed. Indeed it began in his late teens, at the time of Nick Adams stories – some of his best work. (At the time of his marriage in 1927 he was described as a “Catholic in good standing”.) Now Twitter is enlarging the size of the tweets from 140 characters to 280, but I suspect that President Trump has in mind the shorter form, which seems to suit him. His tweets are familiar, over familiar indeed, and can at times be very forceful, even brutal. But they cannot be said to have any real style, any real human feeling – except self-admiration, and are often very crudely expressed. I doubt if Trump has read much of Hemingway. He seems never to have been a person who has found resource or comfort or inspiration in books of any kind. But somewhere in the brief years of his education, one of his teachers seems to have expounded to him the idea that the secret of Hemingway as a writer (at least in those early years before WWII) was due to his brevity and striking imagery, his manner of letting the emotions of his characters come across to the reader in an unemphatic way. Hemingway’s first real book in our time [sic](Paris, 1924) was a selection of short stories interlinked with brief vignettes from his experiences as a journalist in those post war years. One of these, once described by Time magazine, as Hemingway’s shortest story, concerned an encounter with the King of Greece. Greece and Turkey were then fighting an appalling war of quasi-genocide in the Ionian provinces of Asia Minor behind the ancient port of Smyrna. Here, albeit a little longer than the normal tweet, is the complete text of Hemingway’s account of his encounter with King Constantine of Greece (who was forced to abdicate in 1922 and died in exile 1923) and his wife, Sophie of Prussia, both then under house arrest. Whiskey “The king was working in the garden. He seemed very glad to see me. We walked through the garden. This is the queen, he said. She was clipping a rose bush. Oh how do you do, she said. We sat down at a table under a big tree and the king ordered whiskey and soda. We have good whiskey anyway, he said. “The revolutionary committee, he told me, would not allow him to go outside the palace grounds. Plastiras is a very good man I believe, he said, but frightfully difficult. I think he did right though shooting those chaps. If Kerensky had shot a few men things might have been altogether different. Of course the great thing in this sort of an affair is not to be shot oneself! “It was very jolly. We talked for a long time. Like all Greeks, he wanted to go America.” That comes to 148 words, longer than a tweet, of course; but in these few words Hemingway reveals the essential nature of the whole post-war period, not perhaps as experienced in the US or in the UK, but by much of Europe from Galway to Aegean: war, murder, massacres, and monarchs cultivating roses. I cannot see the president managing that kind of thing. The president is a real bruiser. He lacks Hemingway’s humane sensitivity, and Hemingway’s deep seated sense of religion. No; I am afraid it is quite clear that when it comes to challenging Hemingway, Trump shouldn’t even think of getting in the ring with him. The post The real Hemingway of Twitter appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Mixed attitudes to graphic presentations
As a nation we’ve improved road fatality statistics over the years, an improvement that’s all the more noteworthy considering the increase in traffic volumes. So I’m presuming it’s down to NCT testing, better roads, improved driver training, penalty points and hard hitting road safety campaigns. I know it has an impact when I see that TV ad with the car turning over into a garden where children are playing, or that radio ad when the mother talks about finding out in the hospital that her child has died. Ironically I was driving when I heard an item on last Thursday’s Drivetime (RTÉ Radio 1) about a very graphic presentation on road safety to young people. Even the descriptions of what images were shown were quite upsetting, and the no holds barred approach had some youngsters leaving the room and needing medical attention. The item seemed somewhere between neutral and approving – after all it was aimed at saving lives. Perhaps some of the youngsters may have had family members or relatives who died in road accidents, so it would have been particularly upsetting for them. I have very mixed feelings about the graphic approach to any life and death issue, but it does strike me as peculiar that when the graphic approach is used by pro-life activists there is outrage, both on mainstream and social media, even though the objective is the same – to save lives by raising awareness. And the death toll from abortion is about ten times higher than that for road accidents and is likely to rise. In fact, for better or worse, most Irish based pro-life groups do not use graphic images, and yet during last year’s referendum I heard frequently in the media about graphic posters, even though, apart from a few isolated and one-off displays, the pro-life posters showed only very alive and healthy unborn children. It reminded me that while people act in a fairly normal way much of the time, when it comes to abortion a veil of moral blindness or denial descends. And so, last week in the media one of the most dominant issues was the controversy over the children’s hospital and the related financial overruns. Our politicians gushed over the need to have the best possible services for the nation’s children, but I heard nobody calling out the Emperor’s new clothes – asking where this enthusiasm for children’s welfare was when they campaigned to make it easier to kill living children before they were born. On Today With Seán O’Rourke (RTÉ Radio 1) I even heard the embattled Minister for Health Simon Harris saying “my job is to deliver for the children of Ireland”, when last year he was vigorously campaigning for abortion “services”, thus making it harder for children to be delivered alive in the first place. Not
 romantic More positively I thought I’d like to cover something relating to St Valentine’s Day, especially as it’s the publication day for this issue. Last Sunday’s Songs of Praise (BBC1) hit the mark nicely, with a programme that focused mainly on the Tower of London – not very romantic you might think, but it seems the earliest surviving valentine poem was written there by Charles, Duke of Orleans, in the 15th Century. A devout man, he was a prisoner there for 25 years and spent much of his time writing love poems and letters to his wife, who, tragically, died before he was released. Mind you that early poem started rather ambiguously: “I am already sick of love”! We saw the oldest surviving Norman chapel in the Tower and got some of the background of St Valentine, a priest that helped young couples to marry secretly when an emperor forbade marriage to young men as he thought it made them less effective soldiers, though not a word about his relics being in Whitefriar St in Dublin. Christian dating apps were explored briefly, and we saw a young faith-inspired couple meeting up for the first time – it went well despite the presence of cameras! At the other end of the scale we heard from a married couple, a Catholic and an agnostic, celebrating the milestone of their 50th Anniversary. The songs were well tailored for the occasion, including the choral hymns ‘God is Love, Let Heaven Adore Him’ and ‘O Jesus I have Promised’, and most strikingly ‘When Love Was King’ by soul singer Gregory Porter.   Pick of the week Mass RTÉ1, Sunday, February 17, 11 am Mass with a congregation from St Mary’s Parish in Drogheda. Music from the Drogheda Male Voice Choir. Musical director David Leddy, celebrant  Fr Phil Gaffney. Catholic View for Women EWTN, Monday, February 18, 8am, Wednesday, February 20, 10.30 pm Looking at recent mass shootings and consider how modern culture in the US has been impacted by media violence and pornography. Everybody Loves Raymond Channel 4, Tuesday, February 19, 8.10 am Touching moments when Debra’s hippy sister shows up unexpectedly and announces that she’s decided to become a nun. The post Mixed attitudes to graphic presentations appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Review: To hell and back
Review: To hell and back “Dealer’s Choice,” an episode from the 1980s revival of “The Twilight Zone,” portrays a poker game in a suburban New Jersey home. One of the players, Nick, is new; he is filling in at the table for his cousin. Nick is mysterious, a bit sly and keeps getting dealt sixes. His true identity is soon revealed. A character played by Morgan Freeman asks, “What’s the devil doing here in New Jersey?” I’ll never forget how another character answered: “What are you talking about, Tony? I think he lives here!” Advertisement As a kid named Nick, watching that episode in a suburban New Jersey home myself, I was scared. These were the years of the so-called Satanic Panic; when even Geraldo Rivera, having been unable to find anything in Al Capone’s vault, turned his investigative eye toward devil worship. I was terrified of all things occult and wasn’t happy to learn that “Old Nick” is an English name for the devil. “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Exorcist” cultivated a healthy fear of the devil that has never gone away for me. “Dealer’s Choice” is not a work of horror or even suspense: It is a comedy. Of course, the devil would descend upon New Jersey (in another episode of the show, “I of Newton,” a demon wears a shirt that reads “Hell Is a City Much Like Newark”). When the other men at the table learn the devil’s identity, they are scared—but they don’t stop cracking jokes. In true Jersey fashion, they beat the devil at his own game. The devil’s game, and home, has been the subject of endless interpretations. The devil’s game, and home, has been the subject of endless interpretations. The Penguin Book of Hell is a new collection of religious and cultural visions of hell. Edited by Scott G. Bruce, a medieval historian and former gravedigger, the book considers Greek and Roman imaginations of the dead, as well as the Hebrew conception of Sheol and the early Christian idea of Gehenna. But there’s a Catholic bent to the book, with excerpts from the Summa Theologica, Dante’s Inferno, the writings of the Redemptorist priest John Furniss in the mid-19th century and even the enigmatic Vision of Tundale—composed 200 years before Dante’s vision. A visceral, meandering journey through hell written by a 12th-century Irish monk living in Regensburg, the Vision of Tundale does not have the focus of Dante’s later work—yet its confusing nature makes the narrative feel eerily authentic. Tundale, an Irish knight, feels terror when his soul passes from his body after his apparent death. Unable to return to his earthly form, his “wretched soul” is soon surrounded by a “great multitude of unclean spirits.” They fill the house, the courtyard and the streets; and they are there not to console him, but to announce his eternal resting place. Tundale is a “nurturer of scandal, lover of discord.” Yet the frightening, claustrophobic scene ends with the arrival of an angel sent by God. He first rebukes Tundale for not following the Lord, but then reveals his true purpose: “Be very happy and untroubled, because you will suffer only a few of the many torments that you would have suffered if the mercy of our redeemer had not come down to you.” The angel brings Tundale to hell, where he is shown punishments in hopes that his soul will return to his body—cleansed and penitent. Writing from a secular perspective, Scott G. Bruce concludes in The Penguin Book of Hell that hell remains the “dominant metaphor” for the punitive afterlife. Hell includes murderers, who are tossed among fiery coals. The sinners who reach the scalding iron lid “were burned until they were reduced entirely to liquid, like fat rendered in a frying pan.” Then, like “wax is strained through a cloth,” they are made whole again to be tormented further. Later, he sees the prideful attempt to cross a single-plank bridge spanning a thousand feet. They tumble into the burning river below. Finally, Tundale sees the devil, who was “the blackest black like a raven, with the shape of a human body from its feet to its head, except that it had many hands and a tail.” The devil’s 1,000 hands each had 20 fingers; its nails “longer than the lances of soldiers and made of iron.” A disturbing vision, and yet the monk who composed this story includes a clever touch: when tortured souls escaped the devil’s grasp, he whipped them with his tail—“in this way the wretched beast struck itself in its incessant lashings. Inflicting punishments on souls, it was tortured by its own torments.” Odd, and overwhelming with detail, it is no surprise that the Vision of Tundale influenced the nightmarish paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. In his introduction to The Penguin Book of Hell, Bruce notes that hell “has remained tenacious in Western thought.” Despite our cultural tendency to use the word to express difficulty or extremes, “the word has lost none of its religious currency.” Writing from a secular perspective, Bruce concludes that hell remains the “dominant metaphor” for the punitive afterlife. Hell represents unending, unforgiving punishment: a place of pure despair. In Dante’s vision of that despair, the devil is grotesque, blasphemy made flesh. He is massive, three-faced: “With six eyes he wept, and down his three chins/ Trickled his tear drops and his drool mingled with blood.” He chews and claws at Judas, Brutus and Cassius. The brutal image sticks, but equally common in fiction and film is the devil as trickster: the prototypical liar, slanderer, conniver. Even when the devil is not physically present, as in Jean-Paul Sartre’s atheist vision of hell in ”No Exit,” his miserable spirit creates ruin. What does it mean when a thoroughly religious idea entwines within the fabric of popular culture, entertainment and storytelling? Does it affect the theological resonance, turning the devil into a joke? The result is an interesting paradox: What does it mean when a thoroughly religious idea entwines within the fabric of popular culture, entertainment and storytelling? Does it affect the theological resonance, turning the devil into a joke? The Catholic vision of hell has a complicated history. In a 1999 address, Pope John Paul II said hell “is not a punishment imposed externally by God but a development of premises already set by people in this life.” Hell is the “state of those who definitively reject the Father’s mercy.” In a theological sense, this state is spiritual, not geographic. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes a descent into hell, where the punishments are “eternal fire”—but “the chief punishment of hell is separation from God.” This estrangement is the antithesis of heaven, which is union with God. Nuanced theology is often drowned out by image, yet rejection of God is the true despair. The Penguin Book of Hell is full of classic representations of eternal punishment—scenes from Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, Dante’s Inferno—yet perhaps the most immediately disturbing of the texts collected in this anthology is the section titled “Hell of Our Own Making.” There is the internal hell of the jackhammer-loud, pulsing music churned into Guantánamo detainees during interrogation. The inconceivable terror of the Nazi extermination camp at Treblinka, about which the Russian journalist Vasily Grossman said, “Not even Dante, in his Hell, saw scenes like this.” And the atomic evisceration of Japan as described by Yoshitaka Kawamoto, thinking back to when he was a child: “I could hear sobs. Someone was calling his mother. But those who were still alive were singing the school song for as long as they could. I think I joined the chorus. We thought someone would come and help us out. That’s why we were singing a school song so loud. But nobody came to help, and we stopped singing one by one. In the end, I was singing alone.” Hell truly is other people—without love. keane Tue, 02/12/2019 - 14:38 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. Advertisement
Popes in fiction: What do they say about us?
Popes in fiction: What do they say about us? Every novel has an agenda, novels about popes perhaps more than most. It is said that Anthony Burgess’s papal novel, Earthly Powers (1980), was designed to make fun of Somerset Maugham. Frederick Rolfe’s Hadrian VII (1904), similarly, was written to settle old scores. Self-indulgent to the core, written by Rolfe after he was kicked out of the seminary, Hadrian VII is brilliant, autobiographical wish-fulfillment. If you know a bit of the author’s biography, the combination of personal bitterness and comedy will make you laugh out loud. Repentant bishops and cardinals appear one day on his doorstep in London, admitting their mistakes, begging the still-young man to accept not only holy orders but the Holy Pontiff’s chair. Most writers have higher aspirations. Morris West wanted The Shoes of the Fisherman to be taken seriously. He could only have dreamed how that might happen. In what must be the most propitious instance in history of real events rocketing a book to best-seller status, Shoes was published the day John XXIII died, June 3, 1963. “The Pope was dead,” reads the opening sentence of the novel, just as the news reported that evening. The Australian author was even in New York City for publicity purposes that day, and his book shot to the top of The New York Times bestseller list.Advertisement In what must be the most propitious instance in history of real events rocketing a book to best-seller status, Shoes of the Fisherman was published the day John XXIII died, June 3, 1963. West’s fictional pope begins as Kiril Pavlovich Lakota, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv, political prisoner #103592 in a Siberian camp. West may have based Kiril on two Ukrainian Catholic bishops who were prisoners in the Soviet Gulag: Hryhorij Lakota and Josyf Slipyj, each of whom spent decades in Siberia refusing to convert to Russian Orthodoxy. They were heroes to Catholics. Slipyj even had prison writings smuggled to the West in the late 1950s, resulting in additional years added to his prison sentence. In another remarkable bit of luck for Shoes, Slipyj was released by Nikita Khrushchev in February 1963, just as the novel was about to be published. Slipyj flew straight to Rome to receive medical care and participate in the Second Vatican Council. In The Shoes of the Fisherman, the atheist Russians tied up seven of Kiril’s fellow priests and insisted the archbishop deny Christ or the priests would be shot. They were shot one by one. This story escapes to the West and is repeated back to Kiril by the pope, as the pontiff attempts to give him a cardinal’s hat. Kiril asks not to receive it, to be assigned instead a job with “ordinary men.” When that elderly pope dies a few months later, Cardinal Kiril is elected in the conclave. He doesn’t change his name, another indication of his humility. When the film adaptation was made in 1968, it starred Anthony Quinn as Pope Kiril, Laurence Olivier as the Soviet premier and John Gielgud as the pope who dies. At his coronation, while addressing the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, Kiril removes his papal tiara. As the “custodian of the wealth of the Church,” he tells 100,000 people, and millions of others watching on television, he pledges all the church’s land, buildings and works of art for the relief of those in need around the world. Pope Kiril is a messianic figure. He saves the world from catastrophe, negotiates with Chinese and Russian leaders to prevent a world war, a nuclear holocaust and a famine in China that has been brought on by U.S. trade sanctions. No one but Graham Greene, in 1988, could have imagined a feeble papacy without influence upon the world. There were other charmed qualities about Shoes. West’s novel seems to have anticipated the first Eastern European and anti-Soviet pope: John Paul II, who helped break the Soviet Union’s hold on Eastern Europe. A greater writer than West, Graham Greene wrote during that same pontificate a short story that is now easily forgotten, “The Last Word” (1988). It is a futuristic tale of the last pope, in fact, the last Christian, living under house arrest, growing feeble-minded, in a new world order with a general as its despot. By story’s end, the general shoots the last pope in the head. Greene concludes: “[A] strange and frightening doubt crossed [the general’s] mind: is it possible that what this man believed may be true?” This, too, is autobiography influencing papal fiction. No one but Greene, in 1988, could have imagined a feeble papacy without influence upon the world. Few could imagine a powerless papacy today, as well, unless they point to the office’s relinquishing of power. Pope Francis has disarmed the chair of St. Peter of pretense, bluster and certainty—in contrast to another fictional pope—the one played recently by Jude Law in the often obnoxious and mercifully limited series, “The Young Pope,” on HBO. Paolo Sorrentino, who writes and directs the series, made his reputation creating films about loan sharks, mafia bosses and rock stars. It is ironic—though no less ironic than Catholic support for the current U.S. president—that the antireligious, antifaith vision of Sorrentino appeals to some neoconservatives in the church today. They enjoy the fictional Pope Pius XIII’s refusal to speak to the modern world. We imagine the popes we want. The last novel for your consideration is the most obscure. Thomas Klise was a Chicagoan, the author of only one book, The Last Western, published by a small Catholic publisher in Chicago, Argus Communications. (Argus was run by Richard Leach, a Loyola Chicago graduate who later moved to Texas and helped develop the children’s shows “Barney & Friends” and “Wishbone” for public television. The Argus list in the ’70s included Thomas Merton, John Powell, S.J., John Shea and Martin Marty; but it, too, is mostly forgotten today.) If it is ever mentioned at all, The Last Western is described as a baseball novel. Still, America’s reviewer praised it at that time, saying, “For me, The Last Western, unsophisticated as it is, ranks as one of the most important religious books of the decade.” I used to think the book had a cult following. Perhaps it did, briefly, when David Foster Wallace talked about it in the ’90s. Now, I believe The Last Western has simply been forgotten. In The Last Western, the protagonist joins a religious order called “Silent Servants of the Used, Abused and Utterly Screwed Up." Klise begins by mythmaking, and his novel is science fiction. Willie, the boy who grows up to become pope, “was born in the town of Sandstorm, New Mexico in the times that are now forgotten.” This is a futuristic, dystopian tale. Willie goes to Mass with his parents in a church that lies “half-buried in the sand...like a ship about to go under.” A pond plague is leaving birds dead on sidewalks, and soon mechanical birds take their place in the skies. Willie is of mixed ethnicity and race. He is a Spanish speaker and most often identifies with African-Americans. Stories of his actions while a boy can be hagiographical, as when he props a ladder up to the tall crucifix in church to climb up and offer the poor man a drink. “Slowly he poured the water into the cracked plaster lips.” Thus ends Chapter One. There are 57 chapters in all in this nearly 600-page book. Much in The Last Western seems prescient. Willie identifies with the African-American children at school, and many have older brothers and fathers in prison. His best friend, Clio, “spoke bitterly of the way things were arranged in the country.” A new alliance of nations has formed, uniting Japan, Europe, Russia, China and the United States (Jercus) in conflict against all others. Klise was writing at the height of the Cold War, before the fall of the Soviet Union and long before the formation of the European Union. Klise also has children receiving “tele-lessons.” He even locates a Richard M. Nixon Park in Houston, where Willie attends high school. Willie is a terrible student because he won’t repeat what he doesn’t understand, but he’s a great baseball player, a pitching phenom. He becomes a star and moves out of his tenement in Houston, leaving behind his girlfriend and handing his signing bonus check to his mother. Willie writes letters home that show he is barely literate. His coach gives him a paraphrased Bible—the Vest Pocket Ezee Bible. The name is surely a bit of sarcasm from Klise, a Catholic, who was writing when such paraphrases were on best-seller lists. The sports industry has replaced religion in both private and public life. Throughout Willie’s playing career, the United States, through Jercus, is at war in several places around the globe. The president has taken away freedom of the press. The country is run by a military presence. Sports are used to pacify the people. The largest arena, more beautiful than any cathedral, is “a many-sided affair of glass and steel and alumibronze,” standing 294 stories tall in New York’s Central Park. Foreign governments have moved their embassies there, and the United Nations occupies “a part of the 126th floor.” Willie leaves baseball after a dispute with ownership over issues of morality. One of the owners calls Willie a n—— among other things. Willie’s journeys over the next decades are many. He stays mostly among the poor, for instance joining a religious order called “Silent Servants of the Used, Abused and Utterly Screwed Up,” where members speak only at Mass, otherwise using sign language. Eventually Willie is sent to seminary and at 28 is ordained a priest. He becomes a peacemaker in cities throughout the country where there are riots between blacks and whites, sometimes caused by white cops shooting black suspects. My, how Thomas Klise foretold the future! Soon, this now-famous priest is appointed bishop. “The thought of it appalled him, then made him laugh,” the narrator says. “How could he talk to people as a bishop?” This is not even the midpoint of the book. There is not enough space here to lay out the rest of the plot in any detail. As bishop, Willie fights to end wars, marshals support for countries in famine and plays a part in miraculous healings. When the pope in Rome dies, one of the cardinals in the conclave nominates Willie by acclamation (spoken aloud, seeking verbal assent). Willie keeps his name, just as the fictional Kiril had done, and Pope Willie is introduced to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square. His only word spoken that day from the balcony was “uuuv?” Some heard it as “love.” “No one heard the question mark,” the narrator tells us. Willie begins as a very uncertain pope. “They dressed him,” “They explained to him,” “They showed him,” “They took him,” the paragraphs begin. Willie is in conflict with the Curia. Willie wants the rich to give to the poor. He thinks that justice is easily pursued, conflicts are resolvable without war, the world’s problems can be fixed by Christians. He tells people, “I have the pope’s job.” In a televised address, Pope Willie says to all people that he doesn’t want to be pope only for Catholics: This is not a day for word prayer, not a day for going to church. Rather this is the day for the true prayer of deed and action....This is the day when everybody will make up....On this day no nationalities exist, all the barriers crumble, all the divisions cease to be. The Curia was furious, of course. The narrator then refers to them as “trappers and custodians and museumkeepers and cage attendants.” Willie tells them he is leaving Rome; he can’t accomplish what needs doing from his seat in the Vatican. There is a sense of rage and desperation in The Last Western. For Klise, the message is ultimately that the pure in heart are blessed, shall see God, and the rest of the planet might simply perish. There is no end to the genre of the papal novel. There are many, many others. To mention briefly two others: Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons (2000) isn’t bad for suspense and murder, even in its depiction of the papal office. It too seems to search for a savior. Then there is Kingsley Amis’s The Alteration (1976), in which Amis imagines that the Reformation never made England Protestant, and we have a Yorkshireman pope—another example of wish-fulfillment, and one many British Catholics could share. We read all these books, I suppose, because they entertain us. They also say something about who we are and what we want. I stand more with West and Klise, rather than with Sorrentino. keane Fri, 02/08/2019 - 15:10 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. Crystal Watson3 hours 22 min ago I liked The Young Pope - lots of beautiful images even if the pope himself was a pretty disturbed character. An even more disturbing pope, though, was Jeremy Iron's Borgia pope in The Borgias. I did really like the pope in the movie about Ftancis of Assisi, Brother Sun, Sister Moon ... Alec Guinness ... https://youtu.be/DYH2WS3CU6A Advertisement
In ‘Never Look Away,’ a German artist searches for the truth in trauma
In ‘Never Look Away,’ a German artist searches for the truth in trauma eloiseblondiau Wed, 02/06/2019 - 15:03 Advertisement
Review: Refugees and the rhetoric of love
Review: Refugees and the rhetoric of love The sprawling Honduran city of San Pedro Sula entered the news during the 2018 midterm election campaign as the point of departure for the “migrant caravan.” In 2014, when San Pedro Sula had the highest homicide rate in the world, I went there to document Catholic efforts to curb the bloodshed. I recall visiting a Catholic youth center in one of the city’s most violent neighborhoods: The streets were eerily deserted (“People don’t want to get shot,” remarked our Honduran guide) and we avoided stopping at intersections (“We don’t want to get shot either”). Advertisement Every child at the youth center had a parent, a sibling, a friend—often several—who had been murdered. (Eighty percent of cocaine consumed in the United States is trafficked through Honduras, a principal cause of the relentless killing.) If only we could bus down Christians in the United States who fear Central American immigration, I thought, and let them witness the hurts and dreams of these kids, hearts would be transformed. Blessed Are the Refugees offers the next best thing: not via a physical journey but through a spiritual and artistic one. Through prose, paintings and prayer, the reader is introduced to a half dozen or so young Latino immigrants who have found their way to Esperanza Center, a Catholic Charities-run immigration resource center in Baltimore. Scott Rose, a pro bono attorney at Esperanza who co-edited the book, observes that when “we make decisions out of fear, not love, our responses are more limited.” This book confronts the rhetoric of fear, all too prevalent in recent immigration debates, with the rhetoric of the Gospel: the rhetoric of love. The authors invite us to see immigrants through the frame of the Beatitudes, to recognize that these young people are deserving of our care and protection. If only we could bus down Christians in the United States who fear Central American immigration, I thought, and let them witness the hurts and dreams of these kids, hearts would be transformed. Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., Director of Mission for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (and my former Jesuit housemate), offers poignant prayers on each of the Beatitudes interspersed between the migrant stories, and two young Salvadoran artists render stirring images of the migrant journey. In one, “Blessed are the Meek,” a solitary boy huddles in the corner of the frame, clinging to his teddy bear, as an inhospitable desert seems to engulf him. This is art that could only be created by those who know firsthand the tears of the migrant journey. But through their stories, we too are allowed to cry and hope with these blessed ones. You will want to keep this book on the nightstand and meditate through it over a few weeks or a month. By the end, you may just discover your own heart transformed. keane Tue, 02/05/2019 - 10:43 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. Lisa Jackson3 hours 12 min ago You should check out this site https://homeworkhelper.net/blog/too-much-homework for some tips on how to write great looking homework. This could be good Advertisement
Review: A radical approach to combatting throwaway culture
Review: A radical approach to combatting throwaway culture “If there is one word to describe modern culture,” writes Haley Stewart, “it might be unsatisfied. No matter how much we have, it’s never enough.” Advertisement In her new book, The Grace of Enough: Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture, Stewart (who blogs at Carrots for Michaelmas and co-hosts the popular podcast Fountains of Carrots) gets to the heart of this modern, consumeristic malaise. She urges readers to make sure that their attachments to physical things aren’t keeping them from lives built on joyful, self-sacrificial love and gratitude for the gifts God has given them. The Grace of Enough is a readable and relatable memoir that incorporates Catholic theology, cultural commentary, and practical guidance for personal and spiritual growth. In it, Stewart recounts the story of how she and her husband Daniel made the decision to uproot their family from their Florida home, selling their house and leaving Daniel’s job behind to spend a year living on a cooperative farm in Texas. They squeezed their three children into a two-bedroom apartment with no flushing toilets. The experience taught them to ask themselves what really matters, articulate what they wanted to spend their lives pursuing, and then go after it. Stewart encourages her readers to do the same, intentionally building habits that can help us reorient ourselves toward the Gospel…. living simply, offering hospitality, reviving food culture, reconnecting with the land, nurturing community, prioritizing beauty, developing a sense of wonder, being intentional about technology, seeking authentic intimacy, and centering life around home, family, and relationships. Haley Stewart's The Grace of Enough is a readable and relatable memoir that incorporates Catholic theology, cultural commentary, and practical guidance for personal and spiritual growth. As she explains what inspired their decision to alter their lives so radically, Stewart draws heavily on the writings of Pope Francis, who often warns against the toxic effects of “throwaway culture.” As Stewart points out, this term doesn’t simply refer to a reliance on disposal products. It also refers to our attitudes toward other human beings. In short, it is the idea that God’s earth and his creatures are commodities to be used and discarded when they become unwanted…. Anytime we treat those God loves as inconveniences and annoyances rather than unrepeatable, irreplaceable creatures made in the very image of God, we are acting in accordance with the throwaway culture. Anytime we fail to see and respect God’s creation with the wonder it deserves, we fall short of the Gospel. This emphasis on living out the Gospel distinguishes Stewart from the trendy devotees of minimalism who have gained prominence in recent years. As Stewart points out, the problem is not the amount of stuff we have. It’s our attitude toward that stuff. “While it’s easy to see consumerism at play in a McMansion,” she observes, “someone in the tiny house movement can be just as obsessed with possessions.” The point is not to own fewer things; it’s to rid ourselves of disordered attachments that distract us from God. As Stewart warns, consumerism corrodes our own happiness and virtue. It also causes us to become sinfully hardened to the needs of others. “By spending when it is unnecessary, I am actually depriving others who do not have enough,” she writes. “If we have more than we need, the extra doesn’t belong to us.” Consumerism corrodes our own happiness and virtue. It also causes us to become sinfully hardened to the needs of others. While Stewart’s own story is one of dramatic change, she emphasizes that not everyone is called to take such drastic measures. She offers practical questions to help readers evaluate how their own everyday decisions line up with their beliefs. For Stewart’s husband, this self-evaluation led him to leave a soul-sucking job that he didn’t enjoy. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t provide much practical guidance for people who love their jobs but struggle to balance them with prioritizing family and home (let alone the kind of quiet time in nature or lovely slow-food, multi-course dinner parties Stewart describes). Still, the principles she lays out are sound, even if figuring out to how to apply them will take work on the reader’s part. Luckily, the book is compelling enough to inspire readers to find their own ways of living out the Gospel’s radical call to simplicity. keane Tue, 02/05/2019 - 10:17 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. J Cosgrove8 hours 4 min ago How many jobs will be lost? My guess tens of millions maybe hundreds of millions world wide. Advertisement
Review: The ethics of medicine
Review: The ethics of medicine Have you ever wondered why a snake entwined on a staff is a symbol of medicine? Or why doctors take an oath to practice medicine? Or what would be lost if they did not take the oath? T. A. Cavanaugh answers these questions and more in a readable, clear and insightful exploration of medical practice ancient and modern. Hippocrates’ Oath and Asclepius’ Snake: The Birth of the Medical Profession is required reading for anyone interested in the ethics of medicine. Advertisement To understand the meaning of a text requires an understanding of the original context, in this case the ancient Greek context. So Cavanaugh’s approach is interdisciplinary, drawing upon sources like the Iliad of Homer, the “Clouds” of Aristophanes and the “Protagoras” of Plato to cast light on the ancient oath. T.A. Cavanaugh draws upon sources like the Iliad of Homer, the “Clouds” of Aristophanes and the “Protagoras” of Plato to cast light on the Hippocratic Oath. As Alasdair MacIntyre pointed out, a practice like medicine can be undertaken for the sake of goods external to the practice, such as money, power or fame. But there are also goods internal to practice, and Cavanaugh argues that the good internal to the practice of medicine is the restoration of health. However, the technical skills of the medical art make the physician also capable of wounding individuals or helping others to inflict injury, as the case of the infamous French Dr. Guillotin (explored in the text) makes clear. The Hippocratic Oath is intended to forestall any impingement on the autonomy of physicians to pursue the goods internal to the practice of medicine. The oath expresses a medical ethic that both protects the role of the physician and enhances the trust between doctors and patients. Given the power of a doctor, and temptations to misuse that power for goods external to the practice of medicine, the oath in ancient times guided the medical art to its proper telos. Given that technology has enhanced the powers of doctors beyond what was possible in ancient times, Cavanaugh underscores the contemporary importance of the oath. His Hippocrates’ Oath and Asclepius’ Snake is a splendid contribution both to the history of the medical art and to its proper role today. keane Tue, 02/05/2019 - 09:43 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. Louis Litt3 hours 30 min ago I love this post. Thanks for starting it. I had the same issue but reading all the replies helped me a lot. I'm glad. :) Regards,FreeAccount Advertisement
Excavating the roots of the yellow vest movement
En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule by Édouard Louis (published in English as The End of Eddy)   The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland has become a staple of the international political agenda. It is a gathering of the great and good in the picturesque setting of the Alps and brings together the world of politics, technology and high finance. For supporters, it is an occasion to see the world as an interconnected village where what happens in one place inevitably affects those elsewhere. On the other hand, critics describe it as an elitist meeting that is shrouded in secrecy and pushes a globalist agenda. While Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was amongst those participating this year, the French President Emmanuel Macron sat this year out due to political instability at home. France has been convulsed by protests from the so-called Mouvement des gilets jaunes. The yellow vest demonstrations have often been marked by violence directed against both public and private property and has been described as an odd amalgam of the political far-right and extreme-left. The one thing they have in common is a widely-held dissatisfaction with the economic direction of Fifth Republic. Landslide Elected with a landslide in 2017 aged just 39, many people expected Monsieur Macron to be the leader that France had been waiting for. However, he has failed to embody l’esprit de la nation in the way his followers hoped. The protests have ventilated long-held resentments and dissatisfaction felt by many French voters – particularly those in the regions. The issue on which the French movement centred at first was the projected 2019 increase in fuel taxes, particularly on diesel fuel. The yellow vest became the symbol of the protests, as the French are required by law to have a yellow vest in their vehicles in case of road traffic accidents requiring people to leave their vehicles. As President Macron struggled to get the budget deficit under control, protesters soon dubbed him the président des très riches, and his initial popularity is unlikely to easily be restored. Ferocity While the ferocity of the protests – 10 people have lost their lives – has surprised many outsiders, a deep unease has been bubbling under the surface in France for many decades. One young literary voice who has given expression to this dissatisfaction is 26-year-old Édouard Louis. Born   and raised in the town of Hallencourt in the north of France, Mr Louis has lifted the lid on the effects of grinding poverty in many working class areas of France. In his autobiographical novel En Finir avec Eddy Bellegueule published in 2014, Mr Louis links poverty and violence and gives piercing insights into the lives of people who have been left behind by the decline in France’s manufacturing industry. Looking at his own poverty-stricken childhood, Mr Louis reveals the lives of a class of former workers who now exist solely on welfare benefits. The height of sophistication is seen as choosing American-sounding Christian names for children and alcoholism, racism and prejudice is par for the course. It is a brutal portrait where people feel forced to extract their own teeth with pliers and day turns into night in a haze of alcohol. The only whiff of fleeting pleasure is the thought of a drunken sexual fumble. ***** Hallencourt, like hundreds of towns across France, suffers from post-industrial malaise that politicians seem unwilling or unable to do anything about. To add to the distress, Mr Louis is gay in a culture where homosexuality is, at best, frowned upon. He recalls feeling made to suffer habitual shame and abuse. Education proves to be his way out, and as a teenager when he manages to escape, so to speak, to the nearby city of Amiens he blossoms and changes his name to Édouard Louis, thus the death of Eddy Bellegueule. Mr Louis holds up a mirror to modern-day France where he traces the rise of parties such as the Rassemblement national to the fact that working-class people have been all-but-abandoned by the establishment parties. The scene is set in the opening lines of En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule – later published in English as The End of Eddy – when Mr Louis writes: “From my childhood I have no happy memories. I don’t mean to say that I never, in all of those years, felt any happiness or joy. But suffering is all-consuming: it somehow gets rid of anything that doesn’t fit into its system”. But, Mr Louis’ opening offering is much more than mere ‘misery lit’ or yet another tale of an unhappy childhood. It is a searing  insight to the world of des gilets jaunes. Mr Louis argues that the rise in popularity of nationalist and right wing politicians among working class and poor voters in France was a result of changing priorities on the left. ***** His portrait of his family is unflattering (they have disputed large parts of the account which Mr Louis insists is all true), but points to the way that poverty and neglect by the state has deformed their lives. Of his mother, he writes of a woman “torn between an absolute submission to power and an enduring sense of revolt who stormed Versailles at the start of the French Revolution only to salute the King”. His writing is a letter sent from a forgotten place. A place where the elites in Paris and the other large cities have little or no knowledge of. En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule has shaped the national conversation in France in a way that every writer dreams of. The fact that Mr Louis was only 22 when his first book was published makes the impact all the more remarkable. His debut work was followed in 2016 by Histoire de la Violence and last year by Qui a tué mon Pere. In the latter, he expands on the sense of abandonment many working-class French people feel through the deteriorating health of his father, who had been injured in an industrial accident, and the additional bodily harm he endures as a result of political decisions which have reduced his welfare support and forced him back to work. The gilets jaunes consists, at least in part, of people like Mr Louis’s family and neighbours, who are sick, sore and tired with a government they think has forgotten and exploited them. On Twitter recently, Mr Louis expressed frustration that the grievances of the gilets jaunes had been met with sensationalism by the press and disdain by politicians. “Something about the extreme violence and class contempt that is being unleashed on this movement paralyses me,” he wrote. In the protesters, Mr Louis sees “very poor people, people like my mother, people like my father, exhausted people, extremely poor people. “I was able to read it on their faces, because I know those people. I recognised, suddenly, a body, in the noblest sense of the term. A body that I’m not used to seeing in the media. And I felt that these images were crying out to me,” he told The New Yorker in a recent interview. Expanding on the corporal theme, he sees the protests as “the body of social exclusion…it’s the body of poverty. It’s the body of people who are living in precarity, people from the north of France, or from the south of France, who don’t have money, who come from the kinds of families that haven’t gotten an education in five generations — families like mine. I grew up in a family of seven, and we had to live on €700 a month. Five kids and two adults. Maybe you have to really come from that world to immediately identify it”. Impression It was to make real in the eyes of society people like this that Mr Louis says he began to write. “I had the impression that these kinds of bodies were never depicted. And, when I was a kid, my parents, and especially my mother, always said, ‘No one is talking about us. No one cares about us.’ One of the most violent feelings we had was this feeling of not existing in the public discourse, in the eyes and voices of others. It was like an obsession. “There was not one day where my mother didn’t say, ‘No one is talking about us. The whole world could care less.’ And so, for example, elections were the moment when she tried to fight against that kind of invisibility. Voilà.” Voilà indeed, and Mr Louis’ writings and the gilets jaunes are a symptom of a dissatisfaction that is not only felt in France. Literature is, perhaps, at its most powerful when it gives voice to that which cannot – or dare not – be said. Mr Louis has shown himself to be a prophet of sorts and his is a voice that should be heard, particularly by anyone wanting to understand the roots of France’s current political woes. Peter Costello is away. The post Excavating the roots of the yellow vest movement appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
What is Church without children?
Should young children be allowed in Church? Too many have commented on this question in recent times to skate through them here, but it’s been a big debate on the Catholic internet, with serious questions being raised about what actually happens at Mass, what we believe Mass is about and about whether a Church without children is a living Church at all. For American comedian Jeremy McClellan, who tweets at the rather conveniently titled 
@JeremyMcClellan, the question’s a rich source of humour, as the video he posted on the subject on February 1 shows well. In terms of the extent to which the Church is living, it’s well worth looking at the brutally realistic take of Fr Matt Fish – @FrMattFish – who on January 31 observed: “Said it before, and I’ll say it again: working for the Catholic Church in America in 2019 feels something like working for Blockbuster Movies in 2005. We’re still arguing about how we should display the DVDs, and meanwhile our current model and customer base is about to collapse.”   Holding desperately to true teaching? Sadly, analysis of the modern Church is too often skewed by what Mike Lewis, on the wherepeteris.com blogsite, describes as a devotion to the ‘Imagisterium’. Pointing out that “the Magisterium is the teaching office of the Church” and that the Church holds that “orthodox teaching is to be found in the official teachings of the pope and the bishops in communion with him”, Lewis draws attention to a bizarre and dangerous version of dissent too common in the current Church, where opposition to the Pope and bishops relies on claims that the Pope and bishops are wrong, and that those opposing them are holding to the Church’s true teaching. “They proudly insist upon their doctrinal orthodoxy, while boldly asserting that official teachings from the Church are not orthodox,” Lewis writes. “Rather than listening to the Magisterium and simply assenting to the teachings in the way that the Church instructs us, many Catholics instead adhere to a different authoritative body of teaching, which I’ll call the ‘imagisterium’.” Lewis’ analysis of this ‘imaginary magisterium’ sketches out how those who clearly despise the Pope while claiming loyalty to the Church’s teaching office kick away the logical foundations upon which apologists have always claimed to stand. Sedevacantist in effect if not in name, too often nowadays ‘loyal to the magisterium’ is a slippery euphemism for ‘waiting eagerly for a new Pope’.   Desert monks ‘tame the demon’ Elsewhere on the Catholic internet, ‘Taming the Demon: How desert monks put work in its place’ by Jonathan Malesic at commonwealmagazine.org is an enthralling piece on how a group of American web designer monks got their priorities right, and what we can learn from them. “Abbot Philip and his brother monks manage to tame the demon of this work ethic, though, by limiting their labour while they pursue higher goods,” the article notes “We who live in what monks simply call ‘the world’ need to learn their strategies for spiritual combat. I don’t think we all have to join monasteries to live the good life. But the monastic principles of constraining work and subordinating it to moral and spiritual well-being might help us keep our demons at bay and recover the dignity in our labour and in ourselves.” Staying with the positive to finish up, when these islands’ leading young Catholic sociologist of religion says something testifies to the “most cheering signs of hope” he’s seen in the Irish Church in a long time, it’s definitely worth paying attention. Writing from his @SSBullivant Twitter account, Prof. Stephen Bullivant has given a powerful imprimatur to ‘Risking Enchantment’, an impressively thoughtful podcast. Each episode entails Rachel Sherlock – who tweets at @seekingwatson – and a friend discussing an aspect of art, literature or culture and how it informs their Catholic Faith. “Hugely enjoying this: binge-listened most of afternoon,” says Prof. Bullivant. “Engaging and erudite – worn lightly and supremely likably – Catholic commentary on all manner of bits of culture. A wonderful (and v cheering) initiative coming out of Dublin. Massively recommended.” The post What is Church without children? appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Tapping into education for everyone
There’s usually a positive response when people whose background becomes an obstacle to education manage to access it despite the challenges, and sometimes later in life. Last Friday night’s Nationwide (RTE 1) was quite uplifting, focusing as it did on the Trinity Access Programme (TAP). We heard from several people, young and older, who had made their way into college under this scheme and finally and successfully reached graduation day, often surrounded by proud parents who never had that chance themselves. It wasn’t all roses either. For example, one graduate, Dr Katriona O’Sullivan who had gone on to do a PhD and is now a psychology tutor, spoke of the distance that had come between herself and other family members because of the difference it made for her to be so highly educated. It was as if they were now moving in different worlds – she spoke of a bridge neither can cross. Gavin Boyne from Ringsend spoke of inequalities in the education system, e.g. a 90% progression rate to college in Dublin 6, compared to a rate of 22% in Dublin 17. I thought he looked familiar and sure enough he played a significant role in the campaign to retain the Eighth Amendment, crediting the Eighth with saving his very life. Justine Halpin was a cheerful guest presenter whose enthusiasm for TAP was infectious. We didn’t learn a lot about the type of courses undertaken, and I did cringe a bit at the “privilege walk” exercise, but it was a short programme and I was happy for the emphasis to be on the individuals and their stories. A similarly inspiring theme was taken up on that night’s Late Late Show (RTE 1), when Ryan Tubridy interviewed Gillian Quinn (wife of footballer Niall). She had left school at 14 because of family circumstances and her desire to pursue a career in drama and modelling. She described how she felt inadequate in various gatherings, but was inspired by the mature graduates she encountered at an Open University graduation – this led her to pursue a degree in psychology, when she had her own proud graduation day and has now moved on to study for a Ph.D. A more controversial angle on education was taken up on Lunchtime Live (Newstalk) on Tuesday of last week when host Ciara Kelly spoke to David Quinn on an Oireachtas Committee report suggesting changes to sex education in schools. Quinn argued for parents’ choice in the matter to be primary, a reasonable and moderate point I would have thought, and perfectly in line with the pro-choice ethos of our times. And it’s also more in line with the Constitution – Quinn suggested that it would be unconstitutional if the State said that no school can have religious ethos in Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE). I was tickled to hear this from Kelly at one stage: ‘‘Surprisingly David Quinn I agree with you’.” He was suggesting that many parents would be unhappy with a model based solely on ‘consent’, and that it should be accompanied by promoting knowledge of a person, trust, respect and emotional fulfilment (“consent plus” he called it). Of course, he also pointed out that this wasn’t the full Catholic teaching. Kelly thought religion shouldn’t have any role in RSE as sex was not a moral issue, but she was confusing morality and religion. Quinn assumed rightly she’d want some values like respect, and therefore morality was involved, morality being about how we treat others. She preferred talking terms of ethics, but gave the game away when she said “you bring a certain ethos to your whole life”. In other words ethos does come into it…it’s just a matter of whose ethos applies. That issue surfaced again last Monday morning on Today With Seán O’Rourke (RTÉ Radio 1) when the host spoke with The Irish Catholic Managing Editor Michael Kelly and Maria Steen of the Iona Institute. Steen feared Catholic schools wouldn’t be allowed to teach Catholic values, while Kelly was concerned about how authentically Catholic the existing Catholic schools really were. There was a divergence – Steen seemed to favour the Church selling off a large number of schools to the state while maintaining some genuinely Catholic schools. Kelly didn’t think it was time to go that far, yet highlighted the problems created by the Church being the default provider of education for most students. Well worth listening back to.   Pick of the Week Brainwashing Stacey: Anti-Abortion Camp BBC1, Tuesday, February 12, 11.35 pm Stacey Dooley travels to California to meet Survivors, one of America’s anti-abortion groups. Biafra – Misean Dearmadta   TG4, Wednesday, February 13, 9.30pm Repeat of fine film about the role of Irish missionaries in the Nigerian civil war of the 60’s. The Tree of Life Channel  4, Wednesday (night), February 13, 1.45 am (2011) Terrence Malick explores the tension between brute nature and spiritual grace, with Biblical quotes to reinforce its leitmotif. With Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain. The post Tapping into education for everyone appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Mother-to-be rocked by fiancé’s arrest
If 
Beale
 Street
 Could
 Talk
 (15A)   Anyone who saw Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight would have been impressed by the quiet charm Trevante Rhodes  brought to the role of the character  called Chiron. (As you may remember, three actors played him  in various stages of his life). Stephan James reminded me a lot of him as Alonzo in Jenkins’ latest opus. He scripted it from a James Baldwin novel set in Harlem in the 1970s. Jenkins’ direction is also very reminiscent of the earlier film, playing itself out like a symphony in a series of leisurely vignettes  that in a lesser director’s hands might have clashed with the incendiary nature of the plot. This is really quite slim. Alonzo, nicknamed Fonny, has impregnated his childhood sweetheart Tish (Kiki Layne). This foments tensions between the two families. Jenkins conveys the bitterness of this to us in a powerful early scene. As the couple await the birth of their baby, Fonny is arrested on a trumped-up charge of rape spearheaded by a racist policeman. The remainder of the film – intercut with flashbacks – concerns the efforts of the two sets of parents to track down the raped woman. She’s  understandably traumatised and has fled to Puerto Rico. They resort to desperate measures to get enough money together to mount a defence for Fonny. This is being handled by one of the few white people in the film who are sympathetic to the African-American pair. (Another is their landlord.) Message The film is reminiscent of Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit in some ways. The anti-racist message was handled very forcibly there. Here it’s more muted, Jenkins’ direction going where it will  in a series of evocative scenes that dwell tantalisingly on faces, gestures, impressionistic chiaroscuros. At times his propensity for visualising images from Baldwin’s text is too insistent – one’s imagination usually works better in such instances – but this is a small caveat in a film characterised by a plethora of  beautifully modulated performances. It’s a lush undertaking with a languorous charm that flies in the face of the poverty and deprivation on view. Jenkins doesn’t put a foot wrong, bestowing great devotion to each multi-layered scene. Everything is understated in the film, making you suspect the ending will be too – and it is. It’s almost as if he doesn’t need to tell us what happens to his characters. Showing their reactions to the events is enough. The voiceover takes care of the ‘business’ of the film, leaving everything else to style and virtuosity Regina King is getting most of the plaudits for the power with which she plays  Sharon, Fonny’s feisty mother, but for me Layne was just as effective in a more difficult role. The bewildered victim of a bigoted society, she resembles the young Whitney Houston as she blossoms into womanhood against the backdrop of the chaos surrounding her. See this film at all costs but be prepared for some sexual material and strong language. Excellent ***** The post Mother-to-be rocked by fiancé’s arrest appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
The Catholic past of Hercule Poirot
The Catholic past of Hercule Poirot osegura Wed, 02/06/2019 - 10:27 Advertisement