I have a new piece this week at the excellent Plough Quarterly magazine on one of my favorite themes, travel. It was fun to write, letting me look back at visits to Jesuit brothers in Burkina Faso, my Peace Corps days in Kazakhstan, and my one time riding a helicopter in the Alps. Plus thinking about Chinua Achebe’s great novel Things Fall Apart. Here is a link to the essay “Between Continents“.
Hope and satire
I don’t have much time for leisure reading this semester, but I was pleased to pick up Lee Oser’s witty satire Old Enemies as I settled back into Roman life last month. It’s both funny and thought-provoking. In fact, you can read the thoughts it provoked in my review “Hope in the Ruins” published at Law & Liberty. I also muse about what grounds we have for hope during the West’s current self-destructive cultural moment.
Saints Joachim and Anne, grandparents of Jesus
It’s been one of the great blessings of my life to have gotten to know all four of my grandparents and to have them with me well into adulthood. Particularly in times that change so quickly and so dramatically, grandparents give us access not just to another generation but, really, to other worlds.
On this memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, I came across this quotation from one of the 20th century’s literary giants:
I feel that all my writing has been about the experiences of the time I spent with my grandparents.Gabriel García Márquez
Boundaries of Eden
My recent pleasure reading has included Glenn Arbery’s Boundaries of Eden from Wiseblood Books. Always nice to discover another Catholic writer. Here’s a part I liked…
Why should there be providence with respect to Braxton Forrest, anyway? Hardest of all to imagine was that God Almighty, with the whole universe to look after, cared anything about the peccadilloes of a middle-aged literature professor. The apparent absurdity of it had to be balanced against the overwhelmingly convincing sense of an inner witness, an exacting (if often ignored) conscience, a kind of co-knowing whose ground lay deeper than his own conscious mind. So yes. Acceptance of providence brought him to see himself differently. It even brought him, if only occasionally, to the Gospels, where he did not encounter the sweet, naïve, androgynous new version of the fierce Old Testament God that he expected, but the Old Testament God incarnate, the fierce, severe, enigmatic otherness of a man whose absolute authority overflowed any apparent warrant for it….Glenn Arbery, Boundaries of Eden
I was thrilled to get the news this week that my essay “Angels in Innsbruck” was selected by Dappled Things as the winner of their 2021 Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction. Dappled Things is a wonderful literary journal, the only one I know of with the explicit mission of publishing Catholic literature. They’re both online and in print; the print journal features some really beautiful artwork and is well worth the subscription.
To celebrate the occasion, I thought I’d post a few pictures from my summer in Innsbruck to go along along with the essay. First the angels in the Jesuit church…
And then a few pictures of beautiful Innsbruck.