Essential insights of a great apologist
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (William Collins, £12.99/€18.19) This is a famous book of apologetics which is splendid to see back again in the shops. Mere Christianity is a collection of three books: Broadcast Talks (1942), Christian Behaviour (1943) and Beyond Personality (1944). These in turn were printed versions of a series of talks on Christian… The post Essential insights of a great apologist appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
The importance of Ireland’s early saints
Early Irish Saints by John J. Ó Ríordáin (Columba Books, €12.99) When people talk in general about the saints of early Christian Ireland, that is those three or four centuries after St Patrick, they often emphasise their travels across Europe, adding in as an extra measure some comments on the relevance of this to the later missionary work of so many Irish priests in different parts of the world. Undoubtedly such travels are very important for the history of European civilisation, and for the development of the modern world. But, in contrast, I have often thought that there was another side to these saints. As well those who suffered the ‘white martyrdom of exile’, there were those who stayed at home in Ireland. Local 
traditions As often as not it is these saints who are important in local traditions all over the country. We often find ruined churches, small shrines, wells, and modern places of pardon and pilgrimage connected with them. Where indeed would many Irish parishes be if they were not well grounded in the ancient traditions associated with a local founding saint? I was delighted to find that Fr Ó Ríordáin is of much the same mind in this little book, the reissue of which at such a reasonable price is to warmly welcome. A Redemptorist priest by calling, John J. Ó Ríordáin is a man deeply engaged with local life and its traditions, as his many other books reveal. His own native place, he says, is “Kiskeam at the eastern edge of Sliabh Luachra on the Cork side of the county bounds with Kerry”, and what could be more local than that. We often forget that our modern parishes are a creation of the Middle Ages. Like our counties, they are a formal structure of rule imposed after the Norman and English came. For the Irish before then there were no parishes, there were only the scattered places connected with the saints. These essays will make far more agreeable reading than, say, the more austere treatments by Pádraig Ó Riain and other scholars...we must have both kinds, of course” Take for instance the lovely cover of this book, which is graced with a very fine reproduction of an engraving of an incident in the Navigatio Sancti Brendani. This was a legend widely known all across Europe, a legend that influenced even the thinking of Columbus. But go down to Kerry, where the saint was born at Annagh near Tralee, or out to Ballydavid Head, where it slopes down to the sea from Mount Brandon, and one realises in full the close association of saint and place, despite those travels. (Whoever wrote the tale of his voyages, if not the saint himself, was familiar with Arctic volcanoes and icebergs as well as the lush tropic feel of the southern reaches of Florida.) St Brendan, so well known and still so much discussed, is one of the fourteen saints he writes about in these essays. He begins with St Patrick, Brigit and Columcille, and concludes with St Columbanus and St Gall. But in between he deals with saints all of whom have close links with individual places, like St Kevin with Glendalough. His essays are brief epitomes of their lives and their legend. Certainly for an ordinary reader wishing to have some grasp of who these people were and what they achieved, his essays will make far more agreeable reading than, say, the more austere treatments by Pádraig Ó Riain and other scholars. We must have both kinds, of course; but this little book will open up for many, especially younger readers, a cloudy part of the history of the Church in Ireland. Here are miracles and wonders certainly, but also courage and learning, piety and charity, all in good measure. These are the people that literally created out of nothing so many settlements across Ireland that survive to this day that they can rightly be seen as the original nation builders. To purchase the book, visit our shop. The post The importance of Ireland’s early saints appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
More scandal strikes the Museum of the Bible
Mainly About Books by the Books Editor   Back in January, Steve Green, the billionaire founder with his family of the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC, issued a book he had co-authored. It is called This Beautiful Book (Zondervan, £18.99), one of a series he is devoting to his main interest in life… The post More scandal strikes the Museum of the Bible appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Some wise advice for the crisis
Coping with Coronavirus: How to stay calm and protect your mental health A psychological toolkit Dr Brendan Kelly (Merrion Press, eBook €0.99; audio book in preparation) Dr Kelly, professor of psychiatry at Trinity College, suggested this book to his publisher and within five days he had a text prepared, and a week later they had the eBook edition read to launch, at a remarkably low, almost give-away price. His admirable aim is to give people under lockdown clear and practical advice on how to stay calm and protect their mental health. We are all going through this. For the first weeks, coping with the newness of the situation kept us alert. But as time pass we are all affected by the enclosed conditions, fears rise, irritations erupt and strains and stresses appear. His aim is to aid us all to cope with these. Most GPs are dealing with those who require testing. That alone is a full time job. Other appointments are hard to get. So his advice, couched in basic terms that will make it available to all, will be of immense value. “The anxiety associated with the coronavirus crisis is real,” he says, “rather than imaginary. The good news is that, just as we are capable of finding sophisticated ways to make ourselves more anxious, we are equally good at finding sophisticated ways to manage our mental health, once we put our minds to it. Anxiety-management techniques help hugely once they are modified to suit the new situation that we face.” Dr Kelly’s author royalties will be donated to medical charities assisting with the global response to coronavirus. We should all at this time aim to support the caring communities in our society. The post Some wise advice for the crisis appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Groundhog Day of torture for bewildered US couple
 (15A) Excellent *****   Like all great science fiction films, suspension of disbelief is key to the immersion in the plot that’s demanded here – and richly achieved. We enter the seventh circle of hell and accept it because, hey, that’s just the way things are. So when Tom and Gemma, a house-seeking couple,… The post Groundhog Day of torture for bewildered US couple appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Time for pleasant distractions to go viral
Anything that provides calm, relative normality or even distraction in these troubling times is welcome. Gardening surely ticks all these boxes, so I was glad to watch Gardeners’ World (BBC2) on Friday. Recently returned for a new season, presenter Monty Don exuded calm and enthusiasm and it was almost a virus-free zone – he did… The post Time for pleasant distractions to go viral appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
The Top 25 Films from the Last 25 Years
The Top 25 Films from the Last 25 Years Isabelle Senechal Thu, 03/26/2020 - 14:14 Advertisement
The extraordinary life of Catholic activist Sr Helen Prejean
River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey Sister Helen Prejean (Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99) Helen Prejean is the well known author of that massive success as book, film, and even opera, Dead Man Walking (1993). She is one of the most powerful advocates for the abolition of the death penalty, not just in the US, but… The post The extraordinary life of Catholic activist Sr Helen Prejean appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Ireland’s quest for its true place in the modern world
A History of Ireland in International Relations by Owen McGee (Irish Academic Press, €24.95/£21.99 In this book the author takes up the challenge of the late Garret FitzGerald to future historians that “the international economic context behind Irish political history” should be “fully integrated into the narrative of both the Irish state and its international relations”.… The post Ireland’s quest for its true place in the modern world appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
No Carmen but NCH highlights still enough to relish
I had intended writing about Irish National Opera’s new production of Bizet’s Carmen due at Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre this week but, alas, Covid-19 stepped in and brought the curtain down. It promised to be an interesting staging with Kerry’s Paula Murrihy as the sultry gypsy temptress of the title role and Kildare’s Celine… The post No Carmen but NCH highlights still enough to relish appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
St Roch and prayer in times of plague
Mainly About Books by the Books Editor In times of crisis it’s natural that people should look to their Faith for reassurance. During the days of the ‘mad cow disease’ (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) the prayer in time of plague associated with St Roch was much sought. Now, with a new kind of plague striking fear into… The post St Roch and prayer in times of plague appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
The ‘digital parish’ finds its feet in a crisis
Well, who would have thought that RTÉ would move to broadcasting Mass on a daily basis, and yet, in these strange times, that’s what happened last week. With the most unusual St Patrick’s Day in living memory I’m sure Catholics were very grateful to RTÉ for broadcasting the St Patrick’s Day Mass – slimmed down… The post The ‘digital parish’ finds its feet in a crisis appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Mining the partnership between science and religion
Mining the partnership between science and religion Roger Haight’s newest book, Faith and Evolution, asks: “Can a conversation with science, especially with evolution...reveal more clearly the logic of Christian faith and its relationship to the method and understanding produced by the sciences?” Haight’s answer is a qualified “yes”—and the success of his project correlates to how he arrives at that conclusion. This is a book of systematic theology, not religious or scientific history; thus, while Darwin is mentioned from time to time, the historical debates and theological gyrations of the late 19th and early 20th century after his Origin of Species (1859) and Descent of Man (1871) make no appearance in Faith and Evolution. This means that there is no treatment of topics such as the home-grown biblical literalism (like Young Earth Creationism) that characterizes much of fundamentalist Protestantism in the United States, nor the formal, magisterial evaluations of evolution that have been issued by the Catholic Church since 1996. Advertisement This is not a detriment but a clarification, because for Haight, the core of the project is to ask “what science can teach Christian theologians about our own self-understanding” and to offer a vision of compatibilism to Christians who “either do not know how to process their Christian faith in this context or call it into question altogether.”The focus on evolution in the book’s title is significant, and it is also a placeholder: The dramatic, open-system logic that now characterizes the contemporary sciences is perhaps best communicated by the Darwinian revolution. But also at play in this book are cosmology and astrophysics (e.g., the Big Bang as it relates to creation ex nihilo) and the phenomena of causality, emergence and complexity in numerous material domains, as well as the experience of human consciousness. Undergirding the analyses throughout the book is a “negative” normativity, a principle stating that “theology cannot deny what is commonly taken as established scientific conclusions about reality and retain its credibility.” Readers looking for a “warfare” model between theology and science will have to look elsewhere. “Science should not be regarded as an enemy of theology but as a friend and ally,” writes Haight. The question is how theology can be responsive to scientific realities while also retaining its distinctive integrity.Chapters 1 to 3 address how to think about scientific depictions of the world; the distinctive capabilities embodied by the sciences and by Christian faith; and evolution and God. Chapters 4 to 8 engage classical systematic topics, from the doctrine of God (understood here as Presence, through Christian registers of scripture, grace and spirit) to notions of sin, Christology and eschatology in evolutionary contexts. In many chapters a concluding section addresses questions of spirituality, which for Haight “consists of personal history and should be understood in narrative terms,” and for which “metaphysical structure comes to the surface of everyday life in an ethics of communion of being and an ecological ethics,” among other ways. Animating the project is a spiritual concern: Many people “do not have and are looking for the means for processing their faith in today’s secular, evolutionary, and technological world.” The book is characteristically careful, methodical and precise—hallmarks of Haight’s writing style and theological methodology. Readers familiar with the development of Catholic theologies of nature and creation will find much to converse with here, as will philosophical theologians. Haight converses steadily with theologians such as John Haught, William Stoeger, S.J.; Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P.; Paul Tillich; Karl Rahner, S.J.; Kathryn Tanner; and, of course, Aquinas. Haight is correct in his statement that “the dialogue with evolutionary science has changed the context for thinking about how God relates to the world,” and he concludes that a “differentiated integration” of the narrative structures and spheres of science and theology is what is most viable. “An evolutionary context thus changes the framework of ancient conceptualization and thinking, but it does not alter the theological vision,” writes Haight in Chapter 6.For one semester in graduate school, I had the pleasure of learning from Roger Haight in a classroom. Like generations of his students, I learned from him to appreciate the art of a concise one-page argument and his surreptitious, wry humor (he refers to his own analysis in Chapter 8 as a “brief, abstract, and overly dense representation”). But perhaps the longest-lasting spiritual lesson I took from him appears in the pages of this book too:  “If knowing were not oriented to human action, it is hard to imagine what else it would be for.” Ryan Di CorpoFri, 03/20/2020 - 12:51 Show Comments () Join the conversation: Login or create an account Before you can comment, you need to update your profile to include your first and last name, as required in our comments policy. Then reload this page and you'll be set up for commenting. Update your profile Advertisement
Review: How the fall of Rome led to the modern world
Review: How the fall of Rome led to the modern world The fall of Rome in 476 C.E. marked the end of antiquity and ushered in the Middle Ages. Although the Eastern Empire would persevere for another millennium, the West would never be the same. The world the Roman Empire built and maintained for five centuries evaporated almost overnight and left behind a highly fragmented, contentious and economically devastated Europe. But as Walter Scheidel argues in Escape From Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity, out of the Empire’s ashes rose modernity.Out of the Empire’s ashes rose modernity.Advertisement Scheidel begins his book, a sweeping academic survey comparing empires and eras, with the claim that the best thing the Roman Empire ever did was to “fall and go away.” This feels counterintuitive at first: What about the Empire’s contributions to engineering, literature, language, law and economic development? Scheidel does not necessarily discount those Roman innovations, but he saves his examination of them for the epilogue. Rather, most of his study is centered around demonstrating that the lack of empire in Western Europe allowed the conditions for modernity to arise, or what he calls “The (Second) Great Divergence,” the first one after 476 A.D.To build his thesis, Scheidel relies on counterfactuals (were there any candidates for a new empire to establish itself in Europe?), comparative analysis of other long term empires, notably in China, and an examination of the benefits of highly fractured European states sharing a small geographic footprint.Each of these points takes up several chapters and includes twists and turns that are more geared toward fellow academic historians than the average reader. How much influence, for example, did Europe’s relative isolation from the Eurasian steppe have on state formation, and would Europeans still have discovered the New World if they switched places with China? These sections are difficult to follow, even in their major lines of thought.Despite these shortcomings, Escape From Rome makes bold claims about the nature of empire and the roots of the modern world and backs them up with thoughtful analysis. At its core, Scheidel’s thesis is strikingly logical: competitive friction creates progress.Escape From Rome makes bold claims about the nature of empire and the roots of the modern world and backs them up with thoughtful analysis.As Scheidel demonstrates, the European experience has been a unique one. After Rome, no single empire was ever able to assert itself on a similar level. Factionalism and competition between states led to innovation, advancement and modernity.Roman legacies are still worth studying and celebrating, but if Scheidel is right, the fall of the Western Empire did more to create the modern world than the Empire itself ever did. Isabelle SenechalFri, 03/20/2020 - 12:38 Show Comments () Join the conversation: Login or create an account Before you can comment, you need to update your profile to include your first and last name, as required in our comments policy. Then reload this page and you'll be set up for commenting. Update your profile Advertisement
Review: How should Christians address anti-Semitism in their communities?
Review: How should Christians address anti-Semitism in their communities? The historic role of Christian anti-Semitism in the bloody pogroms that devastated Jewish communities for centuries has been documented and at least partially acknowledged by the Christian community. Yet each Lent, a veritable shudder of anguish runs through various Jewish groups and among those Christians aware of just how deep the sentiment of anti-Jewishness is rooted and embedded in Christianity, including the New Testament itself.Advertisement All of this calls for deeper awareness among Christians—of all denominations—and the resolve to address, redress and remove this stain from our midst and hearts. The responsibility for doing so has yet to be fully embraced or implemented in Christian communities.Jesus Wasn’t Killed by the Jews, with its arresting title, is meant to arouse Christians, both their pastors and congregations, to the agonies and injustices perpetrated against Jews in the past and present, and to do so by examining the scriptural and historic roots of this un-Christlike hatred.The historic role of Christian anti-Semitism in the bloody pogroms that devastated Jewish communities for centuries has been documented and at least partially acknowledged by the Christian community. The book is too short to do so itself, considering the enormity and import of the task. It includes 14 relatively brief articles/essays, with a foreword and afterword, by competent, even renowned, scholars, but does not always achieve the requisite depth needed because of the book’s brevity. Its editor, Jon M. Sweeney, rightly invites readers to “read beyond what you discover here,” and there is a smattering of footnotes that hint at the remarkable literature on historic anti-Jewishness in the New Testament and subsequent Christian history, published before and after Vatican II’s landmark declaration “Nostra Aetate” (1965).Several critical areas of examination, touched on in more than one entry, have to do with the putative anti-Jewishness of the fourth Gospel, as well as the role of the Pharisees—misunderstood from earliest Christian times—and the subsequent murderous effect on Jews over the centuries. One of the Christian authors states baldly that “it is essential that we have a context for why the Gospel of John villainizes and even demonizes” the Jews.In her on-point afterword, Amy-Jill Levine writes that the book’s essays are meant to “open points of conversation.” She then challenges readers to “face the textual problems”; to provide guidance for priests, preachers and seminarians concerning them; to study the creative state of Judaism at the time of Jesus and the subsequent development of Rabbinic Judaism; and to deal with the ongoing anti-Jewish bias in our theology, politics and human relationships. If this book encourages even the slightest advance in those directions, it will deserve “to be praised at the city gates.” James KeaneFri, 03/20/2020 - 12:25 Show Comments () Join the conversation: Login or create an account Before you can comment, you need to update your profile to include your first and last name, as required in our comments policy. Then reload this page and you'll be set up for commenting. Update your profile Advertisement
Reflections for a season of pain and great joy
A selection of books for Easter by the Books Editor   This year, as Eastertide approaches, our society is faced with the uncertain outcome of what would once have been seen as a plague. These days we try in a way to tame it by calling it a “pandemic”: giving it a scientific name is… The post Reflections for a season of pain and great joy appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
A Catholic view of modern ‘success’
The decadent society: How we became the victims of our success by Ross Douthat (Avid Readers Press / Simon & Schuster, $US27.00 / £20.95) Frank
 Litton   ‘We live in a time of unprecedented change.” Do we, really? My Grandfather was born in 1875 and died in 1950. I reckon he experienced far more radical changes in his span of life than I have in mine: motor-cars, aeroplanes, electricity as a widely available form of energy, telephones, the collapse of Empires, two World wars, an independent Ireland and massive increases in human productivity. You could argue that I have missed the point. The changes that he saw were beginnings; what we have been living with are their transforming consequences. Certainly, we have lived in a story of continuous economic growth, technical innovations, and increasing productivity. That story is finished. This the theme of this intriguing book, written by Ross Douthat, a noted Catholic journalist, who is the conservative in the New York Times stable of columnists and editorial opinion writers. Decadence The term ‘decadence’, summons up a world of self-indulgence, deaf to the call of duty, we luxuriate in the sensuous. Douthat uses the term in a different sense. “Decadence,” he writes, “deployed usefully refers to economic stagnation, institutional decay and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development.” He makes the case that this is our condition, reviewing a wide range of evidence across several fields. This is an example of high-class journalism at its very best, written with style and wit. The case for economic stagnation is the best known. The case here is that the economic growth that started with the industrial revolution is coming to an end. The low-lying fruit that boosted productivity has all been harvested. We cannot expect any significant increases in productivity anytime soon. Birth rates are falling world-wide. WEIRD (white, educated, industrialised, rich, democratic) countries are not reproducing themselves. The fact is well known though its cases and consequences seldom receive the discussion that its seriousness merits. Politics, for example, proceeds with angry slogans that mask a dearth of ideas” Douthat reviews the evidence and discusses the issues. Culture belongs to the complex of factors that might explain the trend. We may be better off in many ways than the generations that preceded us. Yet, somehow, we have lost the relish for the human project that inspired them to move forward in economics, politics, and culture. A stagnating economy is matched to a stagnating culture. Politics, for example, proceeds with angry slogans that mask a dearth of ideas. Trump is not an exciting, albeit disturbing, turn in politics. He shows up the exhaustion of political parties unable to engage with the problems of the day. The decline in support for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael has not opened up a new chapter with fresh ideas and new projects. Irish readers can only agree that our culture stagnates when they contrast the lively debates on matters of public concern on the Late, Late Show in the 60s and 70s with the procession of celebrities and would-be celebrities of recent decades. It is not only in politics that we find evidence of disengagement. Outhit reports how the expanding possibilities for virtual reality facilitate retreat. Virtual sex dispenses with the troublesome engagement with the wishes, aspirations, foibles, of another person, while computer games deliver spills and thrills, defeats and victories, free from bruising engagements. Secular
 trends Douthat is a well-known American Catholic who has published two books on religious topics (Bad Religion: How we became a Nation of Heretics and To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism). Religion, however, figures only in a small, though significant way, in this survey of current secular trends. Those troubled by the declining influence of Christianity can be intimidated by the apparent strength of the secular whose onward march appears unstoppable. Dothan’s survey gives them cause for hope. In a world in which we have, as Outhit writes: “A conservatism with no vision of how to revitalise itself”, and “a liberalism that doesn’t recognise how little it satisfies the human heart, how vulnerable it would be to real challenges should they ever arise”, the resources of the Catholic tradition are far from redundant. The post A Catholic view of modern ‘success’ appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Resistance to tyranny – Tudor style
The Noble Martyr: A Spiritual Biography of St Philip Howard by Dudley Plunkett, with a foreword by the Duke of Norfolk (Gracewing, £9.99) This book is published at a very timely moment. With Hilary Mantel’s final novel in her Tudor trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, climbing up the best seller lists, it is good thing that those readers should remind themselves of other aspects of the era of Tudor tyranny. This book focuses on what it means not just to be a saint, but to be a martyr. And though the gross nature of martyrdom is largely a thing of the past across Europe, in parts of Africa and Asia it is an everyday threat, a daily reality for the Christian minorities in several cultures. Service Compared with say Edmund Campion, John Gerard or Henry Garnett, Philip Howard may well be an unfamiliar name. As there has been no full length biography since 1857, or any modern editions of his writings, this is hardly surprising. Dr Plunkett has done a service to readers far beyond the Diocese of Arundel in rescuing the saint from near oblivion. This small book is not of course a full biography, but a “spiritual biography” , which draws largely upon St Philip Howard’s own prison writings and his poetry The author (who studied at Oxford, LSE and Chicago University), and who has several other books to his credit (including Queen of Prophets: The Gospel Message of Medjugorje) takes the view that though many, if not most, English people conformed to the new religious regime introduced by the Tudors, they did so in the way many conform these days to the largely secular society of our time. Yet such are the curious contradictions of English life that the foreword is written by the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshal of England and the country’s premier Catholic peer, who could be said to lead the Catholic interest in the House of Lords. Thus the saint’s family remain at the heart of the British establishment. But this book wishes to draw the reader into the saint’s interior castle, into the nature of his own spiritual exerpiences. From this he arrives at his conclusions regarding the enduring relevance of his witness, and the need to fully reclaim all the Forty English Martyrs for modern devotion. In some ways the author is impatient perhaps with the average Catholics of today whose witness takes other forms. But it enables Dr Plunkett to write about those who have on principal resisted the whims and furies of tyranny. For Irish readers it provides 
a comparison with our own martyrs” This is a very useful addition to the small library of books dealing with the English martyrs which are accessible to ordinary readers, and will be welcomed as such. For Irish readers it provides a comparison with our own martyrs. Most of Ireland confessors and martyrs are clustered into the years of the republican Commonwealth, a reminder that removing a monarchy does not remove from some democratic leaders the temptation towards tyranny; though these days that tyranny may well disguise itself as a call to a truer way. The post Resistance to tyranny – Tudor style appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Revisionist version pioneering physicist’s life
 (15A)   Camille Paglia once said: “There’s no female Mozart because there’s no female Jack the Ripper.” The comment was inaccurate but typical of her penchant for sensationalism. (I liked Julie Birchill’s comment: “The ‘g’ is silent in Paglia. It’s the only thing about her that is.”) Something else that’s often said to be in short supply – again inaccurately – is female inventers. That’s why we should champion the ones we have, especially those like Marie Curie, who’s celebrated in this biopic. Greer Garson played her in 1943 in a film directed by Mervyn LeRoy called, simply, Marie Curie. Here, more fittingly, a woman is behind the camera, the French-Iranian director Marjane Satrapi. Satrapi likes directing films based on graphic novels (check out Persepolis and Chicken with Plums). She does so again here, though she hasn’t written this one, unlike the other two. It’s narrated in flashback. There are some disconcertingly prescient  flashforwards as well (to Hiroshima and Chernobyl ) and also a use of Satrapi’s familiar animation. Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie is spikily effective.  Satrapi said: “She has eyes like razor blades and a smile like sunshine.”  Gone Girl  isn’t totally ‘gone’. Some parts of the script are didactic and some patronising. Neither do I think it was wise to portray Curie as a crusader for sexual liberation. She acquires the tag after her husband is trampled to death by a galloping horse and she begins a relationship with a married man. She was also castigated on racist grounds – she was Polish, but lived mainly in Paris – and even anti-semitic ones (despite not being Jewish). And she was criticised for exposing people to radioactivity. The nucleus she invented caused cancer as well as curing it. She herself was the main victim of this. Her main fight, though, was against the prevailing chauvinism of the time. The Nobel Prize she won was originally only awarded to her husband Pierre (Sam Riley). He insisted on having her included in it. She was eventually given a second Nobel Prize. Her daughter would go on to win one as well (for inventing artificial radioactivity). “I have been haunted my entire life trying to understand the impossible,” she declared. She had a fear of hospitals caused by the early death of her mother but didn’t let this deter her from her research. Her seismic breakthrough came when she isolated radioactive isotopes to create polonium and radium. She named the former after her native country. The script is written by Jack Thorne. He also penned The Aeronauts, another film about a pioneering woman. I praised it here recently. This is less satisfactory. The flashbacks and flashforwards detract from one’s involvement in the plot. A more linear approachwould have been preferable. Curie had a great mind – we could do with her to fight the coronavirus – but Pike’s claims to iconic status for her are sometimes a bit too strident. Messages are better when they unfold rather than being pushed at you. Good *** The post Revisionist version pioneering physicist’s life appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Odd times as celebration stays behind a mask
Well, it was a strange St Patrick’s Day for sure – a more sombre and sober one than we’re used to. Maybe, despite Mass cancellations, it was a more spiritual celebration than usual. At least that option was certainly on offer. The media, social and otherwise, played their part by broadcasting streamed religious services across… The post Odd times as celebration stays behind a mask appeared first on The Irish Catholic.