popular culture

If Charles Martel Were Alive Today

Sunday was the 1,276-year anniversary of the death of Charles, King of the Franks. Charles, who won the decisive victory at the Battle of Tours against the Umayyad Caliphate (an Islamic state), gained the nickname “Martel,” meaning “the Hammer.” This battle was the beginning of the expulsion of Islam from, and victory of Christendom over, [...]

On Bob Dylan’s Nobel Speech

Plato said that changes in music and sports were also indications in changes in constitutions of polities. Changes in politics are usually also indicative of changes in souls. Music mirrors human souls and the direction they are taking, good or bad. The mind and body may be closest together in music. The notion that we [...]

Culture, Faith and the Craven Souls of the “Nones”

Culture is not merely whatever fungus happens to grow in the unclean soul of a transgressive artist. But to say so is counter-cultural, and to say so with wit and erudition is invigorating. Joseph Epstein writes with clarity and probity about culture, but more importantly he writes about the conditioning of the mind and soul necessary for [...]

The Most Religious Singer-Songwriter of the past 50 Years

“You’re not making Christianity better, you’re just making rock n’ roll worse.” ∼ Hank Hill on “Christian Rock” from King of the Hill There are these musical artists who have done some religious music or who have moved from gospel to mainstream or who have dabbled in it, but there is someone else who is not [...]

On Video Games: The Good and the Bad

Video games are a staple in our society, and no matter how much ink and venom is spent lamenting their obsession in our culture, short of the apocalypse, video games are here to stay. Therefore, it behooves teachers, parents, leaders, and the like to familiarize themselves with video games and not to settle for mere [...]

Theology of the Bawdy

In any decent education there should be a place for the indecent. Students should read stories like “The Miller’s Tale,” see plays like Romeo and Juliet, and learn songs like “Drunken Sailor.” The inclusion of low, lewd themes sometimes attracts curiosity and criticism in the realm of classical education, and especially Catholic classical education: How [...]

A Note on Our Modern Celebrity Papacy

I’m getting a little tired of people asking me whether I “like” Pope Francis. I don’t want to be too sensitive here. But why are my personal feelings about the Holy Father so very important? Jane Fonda, Elton John and Patti Smith all apparently love Pope Francis. Does that really tell us anything significant? Maybe [...]

New Film Reveals Genius of Obscure Photographer

Vivian Maier died in penniless obscurity five years ago; today she is fast becoming a phenomenon. On both sides of the Atlantic an award-winning film about her life and work has been released to critical acclaim. Entitled Finding Vivian Maier, it is as much a tale of detection as the story of an artist. As [...]

Why Do We Read Good Books?

Not long ago, one of my older essays was published in these pages to counterbalance, and to caution against, the unqualified praise of Flannery O’Connor’s fictional stories. As I expected, a great many O’Connor enthusiasts took exception to my critique. But amidst the ensuing disparagement, the common confusions, and the rebuttals of arguments never made, [...]

The Beatles and the Dawning of a New Age

On its 50th anniversary, A Hard Days Night has been released in a newly restored digital version to universal critical acclaim. A precious cinematic artifact of social history, even a catalyst of cultural change, the first Beatles movie is now looked upon as more than just a piece of filmmaking, with its four heroes praised [...]

A Conservative Response to Popular Culture

How should a conservative interact with popular culture?  We live in a time when popular music mocks religion, prime time television depicts homosexual relations and multi-generational groupings as “the new normal,” films depict literal orgies of gory sadism, and all promote narcissistic nihilism with a snarky self-confidence expressed in gutter language.  How should we respond [...]

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