"When I speak to my pro-choice friends, I’m often able to find some common ground. They do not necessarily admit that human life has a God-given dignity, but they certainly assign it value—and even assign some value to life in the womb, though they leave this contingent on a mother’s choice. Some of my friends are sympathetic to the pro-life movement’s ideal of a world where mother and child are both offered love and support, a world less subject to the cultural and economic
At First Things, I'm featured on both segments of this podcast. In the first segment, I talk about Silence (the book and the film) with Julia Yost. In the second segment, Leah and I join Julia to discuss the BBC's Sherlock, and the ways it went wrong by making its world too small—we end by imagining what guest star from a different author's detective stories could help cure the increasingly solipsistic world of Sherlock. Listen to the whole podcast below: #Podcast #FirstThin
"Arrival stars Amy Adams as a linguist named Louise Banks who is tasked with learning how to speak to the aliens who have arrived in monolithic ships all over the earth. Her military handlers, suspicious of the extraterrestrials’ intentions, want her to do this without teaching them English. Adams convincingly plays a gifted scholar who is in over her head, until she starts seeing the world from the aliens’ viewpoint and gets glimpses beyond the limits of human consciousness.
Just in time for Halloween, I discussed the "scared-straight"-style evangelical tracts by the late artist Jack Chick. What made these grotesque propagandistic comics such a staple of American Christian culture? What are we to make of Chick's rabid anti-Catholic fear-mongering—and his opposition to trick-or-treating and playing Dungeons & Dragons? I sit down with Julia Yost on the First Things podcast to dissect Chick's legacy. You can hear our segment starting at the 18:30 ma
"When I ask my friends for their formative, positive male role models, the answers (real and fictional) were often men of quiet confidence and steadfast service, like St. Maximilian Kolbe or Atticus Finch of To Kill A Mockingbird. G. K. Chesterton suggests that Christian manliness is well illustrated by the medieval Christians’ creative re-reading of the Trojan War, a reading that treats Hector as the protagonist. The great loser of Homer’s story becomes the model of chivalry
"Trump’s policies, such as they are, usually come down to America breaking its promises. In the debate, he doubled-down on his previous pledge to back out of defending our NATO allies (who came to our defense after 9/11). Later in the debate he casually said we can’t defend Japan, another nation with whom we have a mutual defense treaty. This promised perfidy is of a piece with his rhetoric about tearing up deals and starting trade wars. He then brushed off the idea that stop
"Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s narrator and Hamilton’s killer, complains that Hamilton has been “seated at the right hand of the father,” elevated to Washington’s side. The Trinitarian image is ironic: Though Washington is a godly man and father-figure, Hamilton isn’t quite a spotless lamb. Inaugurating the role, Miranda played his protagonist as an irrepressible motor-mouth, committed to his ideals, hungry for fame, and susceptible to his passions. Hamilton’s involvement in America
"One night early in my Pokémon journey, I spotted about twenty young adults gathered, phones in hand, around an equestrian statue in Tompkins Square Park. Apparently there were a lot of uncommon Pokémon in the area. I opened up the app: The park was indeed hopping with imaginary creatures. I tried to catch one (a Doduo) while the most outgoing member of this impromptu group of Pokémon trainers showed me a video on his phone: the highly-ambitious concept trailer for the game.
"Films with a theological bent never get far from the oldest question of theodicy: Why does a loving God allow his children to suffer? It’s the rare film that offers any nuance in its answer. In films that make the point that God can bring good out of evil, there is always a danger of becoming facile and condescending—an unexpected blessing proves that it was all for the best, and the evil wasn’t so bad to begin with. The Innocents, by contrast, offers evidence of healing and
I reviewed The Force Awakens for First Things: "Every time the new Star Wars film tried to be bigger than the last one (with “the last one” here meaning both previous Star Wars trilogies) it disappointed. A Death Star, after all, is a Death Star, even if you engorge its size and call it a Starkiller Base. We’ve seen that space battle already. What worked in the film, what impressed me and excited me, were the moments when it went small. The heroes of the movie were instantly