US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Jason Isbell's brilliant lyrics describe the struggle of blue collar life

A review of Jason Isbell's newest album, Something more than free

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Article Culture

The release of Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free was as much of a mainstream media event as one can expect in this age of audience fragmentation. The album debuted at the top of the Billboard charts in country, rock, and folk, and it garnered Isbell profiles everywhere from The New Yorker to NPR.  

Isolated brothers rely on movies and each other in ‘The Wolfpack'

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Culture
The Wolfpack
Directed by Crystal Moselle (Kotva Films, 2015)
After watching Star Wars as kids, no wrapping paper roll in my house was safe; my brothers and I stole them for light saber battles. The Wolfpack opens with a similar scene of kids recreating movies, but only slowly does this documentary reveal the strange necessity of their movie play. 

Stories of Syria

‘Never Can I Write of Damascus' leads its readers deeper than the violence in Syria and tells stories of human resilience, beauty, and poetry.

By Bryan Cones |
Article Culture
Never Can I Write of Damascus
By Theresa Kubasak and Gabe Huck (Just World Books, 2016)

‘Stranger Things’ is all too familiar

The Netflix series reminds us of the last breath of childhood, before we realize that monsters aren’t just in stories, board games, and horror movies.

By Jessica Mesman Griffith |
Article Culture

I used to wonder when I’d finally feel grown up. I thought it would be a more cataclysmic rite of passage—like getting married, having a baby, or going to your best friend’s funeral. But I’d done all those things in my 30s, and I still felt 16 at heart. In truth, it was a small moment on the playground with my 10-year-old daughter that made me realize adulthood had arrived without my even noticing. 

Bon Iver's ‘22, A Million' is designed to mystify

Justin Vernon's first new album in five years adds to the studied mystery of Bon Iver.

By Ann Christenson |
Article Culture

Back in the fall of 2012, Justin Vernon told Minnesota Public Radio that Bon Iver was perhaps nearing its end. Vernon had been on tour for a year at that point with Bon Iver—the indie-folk project he’d launched in 2007 with the debut album For Emma, Forever Ago—and needed some space from the national attention it and he had garnered. If time out of the media spotlight was what the 35-year-old Vernon needed, he seemed to find it.

Chance the Rapper: An unexpected voice of faith

Chance the Rapper embraces both the beautiful and the broken.

By Nicholas Liao |
Article Culture

Chance the Rapper wants you to know he’s blessed. It’s a theme that pervades his long-awaited third solo album, Coloring Book, which recently became the first streaming-exclusive mixtape to chart on the Billboard top 200. 

It’s hard to disagree. In recent months, the unsigned 23-year-old Chicago rapper has been making a serious run at the hip-hop throne. Drake may have the year’s bestselling rap album, but Chance is the people’s champ, rebuffing record labels and releasing music for free. 

When science and faith collide

In ‘Quantum Shift’ Heidi Ann Russell explores the theological and pastoral implications of quantum physics.

By J. Peter Nixon |
Article Culture

When the Disney movie Frozen was released in 2013 it didn’t take long before my daughter was singing every song from the movie. After hearing the movie’s signature song day after day, there were some things I began to wonder. Just what is a “frozen fractal” anyway?

‘Call the Midwife’ shows life on screen

‘Call the Midwife' brings us nuns who are sharp-eyed observers of their community.

By Pamela Hill Nettleton |
Article Culture

Childbirth on television is not, shall we say, precisely accurate. Hollywood seems to consider a new human being’s arrival on the planet to be utterly lacking in dramatic tension and so for decades has embroidered television and film stories about labor and delivery with implausible narrative flourishes apparently aimed at injecting excitement into something that is, in actuality, pretty darn exciting all on its own.

A field guide for Catholics

Being a good Catholic isn't about specific devotional practices, but instead about what these practices say about our relationship with God.

By Emily Sanna |
Article Culture

Flipping through the pages of Melissa Musick and Anna Keating’s The Catholic Catalogue : A Field Guide to the Daily Acts That Make Up a Catholic Life, I immediately thought, “Wow, I must be a bad Catholic.” I’m not big on the veneration of relics, I’ve never blessed my home, and I don’t have a “Mary garden.” 

Turning the tables on romantic comedies

In ‘Hello, My Name is Doris,’ an older woman and a younger man flip the expected romantic comedy script.

By Pamela Hill Nettleton |
Article Culture

Audiences like Sally Field. They really, really like her. And in her new film, Hello, My Name Is Doris (Roadside Attractions, 2016), she is poignantly human, wonderfully funny, and enormously touching. While she is on the screen, which is nearly constantly, there is nowhere else to look.