US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Biblical dominion and ‘The Handmaids Tale’

Hulu’s new show portrays a world where the bodies of women are used and discarded, exploited much like the land and water Gilead’s people have destroyed.

By Sarah Babbs |
Article Culture

What if you woke up one morning and everything and everyone you knew and loved was gone? What if it happened slowly over time? In Hulu’s new series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the 1986 book by Margaret Atwood, this is the situation in which protagonist Offred (Elizabeth Moss) finds herself. She goes to sleep in the United States of America and wakes up in the Republic of Gilead, an oppressive regime based on the perversion of scripture and patriarchy taken to the extreme.


Why ‘Madam Secretary’ breaks bold new ground

In CBS drama “Madam Secretary,” patriarchy matters a little less.

By Pamela Hill Nettleton |
Article Culture

Madam Secretary (CBS, in its third season) breaks bold new ground in media portrayals of women leaders: Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord’s friends, family, colleagues, and even the President of the United States treat her as if, in fact, she can lead. 


‘Pure Comedy’ is pure joy

Father John Misty’s not actually a priest, but you should still give him a listen.

By Ann Christenson |
Article Culture
Pure Comedy
Father John Misty (Sub Pop, 2017)

Joshua Tillman is a prolific indie folk/rock musician with eight studio albums under his belt. But it’s under the name Father John Misty (a persona, not a priest) that Tillman has achieved notoriety.


The documentary that looks at the criminalization of black men

“13th” reminds us that America’s original sin of racism is still waiting to be confessed and cleansed.

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Article Culture

13th, the documentary by Selma director Ava DuVernay about mass incarceration, was screened for the first time just days before the 2016 presidential election. In the film the first thing we hear is the voice of President Barack Obama saying that, while the United States is 5 percent of the world’s population, it locks up 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. 


‘Moana’ and the power of female friendship

“Moana” is the story of a young woman who brings healing to her tortured “sister” simply by being present.

By Jessica Mesman Griffith |
Article Culture

“Take your broken heart; make it into art,” Meryl Streep said through tears, quoting her late friend, fellow actress Carrie Fisher, when she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes earlier this year. 

Streep’s controversial comments were directed at those who felt brokenhearted at the election of a certain president, but her visible grief for her lost friend reminded me—of all things—of a powerful scene in the Disney animated feature Moana


A cancelled series shows women’s inequality is still at work

Women can now wear pants in the office, but has so much really changed since the days of “Good Girls Revolt”?

By Pamela Hill Nettleton |
Article Culture

Once upon a time, in 1969, women weren’t “allowed” to wear slacks at the office. This wasn’t for modesty—miniskirts and tight dresses were fine, 9–5. The dress code was to keep gender differences clearly delineated, as in the classic insult to assertive wives: “She wears the pants in that family.” When the chino ceiling finally cracked in office buildings across America, women could wear trousers in public, but only if they also wore a matching jacket. The female pantsuit was born.


The literary genius of Bob Dylan

Dylan's Nobel Prize opens up room in the cathedral of literature for every genius who has seen a light and can find a way to make us see it, too.

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Article Culture

Putting aside, for a moment, the election of a reality TV star as president of the United States, history may ultimately judge that the most significant cultural event of 2016 was actually the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan. That decision, handed down by those ultimate high-culture deciders in Stockholm, finally ratified the ascension of the American popular arts that began in the music and movies of the 1930s, built to a crescendo in the 1960s, and has been the new normal for most people ever since.


‘The Young Pope’ in the age of Francis and Trump

The show portrays a hotly contested leadership transition and the possibility of an unchecked leader pushing a potentially unpopular set of priorities.

By Elizabeth Lefebvre |
Article Culture

For a show about the papacy, it’s hard to pinpoint the most shocking part of the first few minutes of The Young Pope: The fact that the episode came with a nudity warning that is almost immediately realized; the titular pope emerging from a pile of babies, which later turns out to be part of a dream sequence; or hearing an American pope addressing crowds at the Vatican (especially one played by British actor Jude Law).


The faith of an unarmed war hero

“Hacksaw Ridge” chronicles an unwavering faith lived out in midst of war's violence and gore.

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Culture
Hacksaw Ridge
Directed by Mel Gibson (Summit Entertainment, 2016)
 

A story of northern racism

In “The South Side,” Natalie Moore points out that while cultural diversity is worth celebrating, high-poverty black segregation is not.

By Rosie McCarty |
Article Culture
The South Side
By Natalie Y. Moore (St. Martin’s Press, 2016)

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