The National Catholic Review

Culture

February 2016

  • February 11, 2016

    “Brooklyn” is perhaps the gentlest film to be nominated for an Oscar in many years. It tells the story of Ellis Lacy (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish woman who leaves her restricted life in her hometown of Enniscorthy to create a larger future for herself in America. A kindly Irish-American priest has found a job for her and a place to live in Brooklyn in the early 1950s. The muted colors throughout the film depict the Brooklyn she comes to know in almost sepia tones creating a sense of...

  • February 11, 2016

    What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.

    –Francis Bacon

    In The Age of the Crisis of Man , Mark Greif sets himself the ambitious and “historically indispensable” task, a “philosophical history” focusing on a crisis in determining what is man and what he faces (I use Greif’s “man” for human). “The midcentury generation’s way of addressing the crisis of man...

  • February 11, 2016

    The Dalai Lama, though a devout Buddhist monk himself, declared recently that religion alone is no longer adequate as a basis for ethics and that the time has come for a new secular way to think about ethics and spirituality.

    Stephen Batchelor follows this line of thinking in his new book, After Buddhism . Batchelor identifies himself as a product of a Protestant Christian culture, as well as an atheistic culture. He spent...

  • February 11, 2016

    Ralph Watkins, a theologian and photographer at Columbia Theological Seminary, noted recently in a conversation on the arts and activism that photographers are both creators and curators, artists who capture what might otherwise be unseen and then design visual experiences intended to move people. Two collections by Jesuit photographers from different eras and contexts reflect Watkins’s wisdom about the social and moral power of the photographer....

  • February 11, 2016

    There is no way to ignore the “movie-ness” of Race, the director Stephen Hopkins’s triumphal portrait of the track-and-field wunderkind (so to speak) Jesse Owens, who took four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, crushed Hitler’s dreams of a publicity coup and in many ways prepped America for the civil-rights struggle to come. Owens was black, and his success meant that a black man had become an undeniable American hero. (He was even well liked in...

  • February 4, 2016

    This story really begins with Will Eisner, who grew up poor and Jewish in the 1920s and in pre-War, Depression-era Brooklyn. Eisner published what’s generally considered the first graphic novel, A Contract With God , in 1978. He also coined the term “sequential art”—which helps to explain to some of us how comic books became graphic novels. Eisner taught a course on sequential art for years at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Before that, in 1940,...

  • February 4, 2016

    As cancer ravaged her father’s once-strong body, Ann Neumann did her best to at least give him a “good death.” She hoped that he could exit life at home, surrounded by family, free of pain. She became his full-time caregiver in an effort to make it so. Then his pain grew so intractable that Neumann rushed him to a hospice facility. He twisted in agony until stronger drugs took hold, and then he died.

    Neumann was left haunted...

  • February 4, 2016

    More is better in the land of Trump, even in the literary world. Our novelists garnering large advances and recognition write hefty novels chock-full of virtuosic sentences, one after the next. The result can be numbing. Glimmers of truth are obscured by pyrotechnic wordplay, making readers, at least readers like me, feel they are not smart enough to keep up.

    Not so reading Peter Stamm, the excellent Swiss novelist and short-...

  • February 3, 2016

    It is nearly impossible to watch Making a Murderer and believe in God at the same time. The viewing experience of this Netflix series perhaps was best summed up by Robert Browning nearly 200 years ago when he wrote, “And yet, God has not said a word.” If temporary atheism is too precise a descriptor of the affective wake the viewer is left to tread after viewing the series, then temporary agnosticism might do just as well. Agnosticism is the order of the day...