US Catholic Faith in Real Life

In ‘Country Music,’ Ken Burns explores the evolution of a rural art form

A new documentary series explores the inherent paradoxes of country music.

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Article Culture

When I was growing up in a white Southern working-class home, country music was simply the air we breathed. Even as a rock and roll-crazed teenager, I still never missed the string of Saturday afternoon country music TV shows hosted by the Wilburn Brothers, Porter Wagoner, and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. When I went north as a young man, country music was there waiting for me. It was the Urban Cowboy era and country had transcended region, becoming what it mostly is today: a membership badge of the white working class.


In ‘American Utopia,’ a welcome reminder that hope abounds

In troubled times, the church and the world have found refuge in utopian writing.

By Steven P. Millies |
Article Culture

We face no shortage of celebrities who have responded to our troubled world with anger, with protest, or by joining the Resistance. Those who have responded with an artistic affirmation of hope are somewhat scarcer.


In Netflix’s ‘The Two Popes,’ a blurry line between fact, fiction

The anticipated historical drama is largely fiction.

By J. Peter Nixon |
Article Culture

From Netflix’s The Crown to HBO’s Chernobyl, historical dramas are all the rage. While learning some history is part of the draw, most viewers accept that these shows will alter a few facts for the sake of telling a more dramatic story. But when does the dramatization of history cross over into the distortion of it?


In ‘Tales of the City,’ a Netflix reboot that celebrates our differences

This miniseries will change how you see the world.

By Pamela Hill Nettleton |
Article Culture

When you turn on the television, the people you see may look like you. But if they don’t, you may feel invisible to the very culture in which you live. 

The most powerful tasks media perform are to show us ourselves, show us one another, and show us how others see us. For example, most Christian Americans were taught what the Crusades were about—which side was honorable, which side was godless.


The Spirit is at work in religious life today

Cardinal Aquilino Bocos Merino’s new book offers a new perspective on the consecrated life.

By Father Mark R. Francis, C.S.V. |
Article

Outside of the Claretian community, probably the only awareness of Aquilino Bocos in the United States or other English-speaking countries is that he was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2018. Internationally, though, Cardinal Bocos has long been known as a resource and lecturer on the religious life.

After serving the Claretians as superior general, Bocos has continued to research and write on matters concerning the consecrated life. He is a sought-after presenter at the Union of Superiors General in Rome and national conferences of religious in Spain and the Americas.


In ‘Blinded by the Light,’ an illuminating look at the power of music

Regardless of race or religion, Bruce Springsteen's music is for the people.

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Article Culture

Fifty years from now, if anyone still studies the humanities, perhaps there will be a great debate in the departments of cultural studies over who was the greatest American artist of our turn-of-the-century era. Some may argue for one of our Nobel winners—the late Toni Morrison or Bob Dylan. Others may cheer for that chronic Nobel wannabe, the late Philip Roth. A few cineastes may carry the torch for Martin Scorsese or Spike Lee. 

But for my money, the choice for those future academics should be simple. It’s got to be Bruce Springsteen.  


In ‘Good Omens,’ an uncommon take on the end of days

Could it be that humans are lovable even with all our faults?

By Pamela Hill Nettleton |
Article Culture

A demon and an angel, sitting on a park bench, commiserate about imminent Armageddon and agree: The loss of excellent bookshops, neighborhood cafes where they know you, and Mozart is too much for the divine, who have been visiting Earth and working at cross-purposes since the beginning, to bear. 


Why the present is a good time to hear from Gorbachev

A new documentary shows us what might have been.

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Article Culture

German filmmaker Werner Herzog loves Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union. He says so right in the middle of his documentary, Meeting Gorbachev. He brings the diabetic Gorbachev a box of sugar-free chocolates, and later, when they are discussing the unification of East and West Germany, Herzog confesses: “We [Germans] love you. . . . I love you.”


Two documentaries that will change your perspective on the planet

Get down to Earth with ‘Behind the Curve’ and ‘One Strange Rock.’

By Pamela Hill Nettleton |
Article Culture

Two documentaries currently trending on Netflix take a look at the planet from decidedly oppositional perspectives—and they might change how you think about the ground you stand on.


The challenging documentary every parent should watch

In ‘Far from the Tree,’ normal gets a new meaning.

By Nick Ripatrazone |
Article Culture

“Loving our own children is an exercise for the imagination,” writes Andrew Solomon, psychologist and author of Far From the Tree, a book recently adapted into a moving and challenging documentary.

“Though many of us take pride in how different we are from our parents,” Solomon explains, “we are endlessly sad at how different our children are from us.”

Solomon’s wisdom from the book carries into the film—a consideration of how several different families live with and love children who have been deemed different.


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