Star Wars

Sauron Comes to Middle England

Tolkien, the new biopic about the master storyteller’s life, has come under criticism for giving the impression that Tolkien’s service in World War I was the decisive influence on his work. In fact, Tolkien was far more influenced by other factors—in particular by his love of mythology, and by his strong Catholic faith. Before her [...]

Saving Fallen-Away Catholics with Luke Skywalker’s Help

How ought we to approach our family members and friends who have fallen away from the faith in the hopes of bringing them back? New survey data reports that, for the first time in our history, there are as many Americans with no religious affiliation as there are Catholics and Evangelicals. More significantly, of these [...]

The Wonders of Things Unseen

In 1977, George Lucas struck box-office gold with the epic adventure Star Wars. Mystic luminaries, anthropomorphic androids, light sabers, and computerized special effects captured the imaginations of audiences young and old alike. But perhaps the most lasting impression on viewers was Obi-wan Kenobi’s Delphic disclosure: “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power… It surrounds [...]

The Age of the Android: More Machine Than Man

I am not a techy-type and I never thought I would do it, but I did—I took the infernal trouble of customizing my cellular telephone’s ringtone. With tongue in cheek, but not without symbolic intent, I programmed my phone to emit the sound of Darth Vader’s ominous breathing for every incoming call. Though people start [...]

The Master Mystifier: Joseph Campbell

Finding Joe Directed by Patrick Takaya Solomon (documentary). Featuring Deepak Chopra, Mick Fleetwood, Catherine Hardwicke, Sir Ken Robinson, Akiva Goldsman, Chungliang Al Huang, 80 minutes   I wasn’t sure what to expect from a documentary on the life of Joseph Campbell, the 20th century American philosopher and mythology expert who was captivated by Krishnamurti and [...]

Love Is Not Feelings

Last week, we talked a bit about the meaning of concupiscence in the Church's moral tradition. The good news about concupiscence is that it is not sin but merely the "tinder for sin," and therefore temptation is not a revelation of what a disgusting disappointment we are to God, but is in fact the field [...]

The Urge to Prophesy

Back when I was in high school (Cascade High 1976: Home of the Bruins, School of Pride), one of the trendier ideas being talked about was Futurism -- literally, the "study of the future." I remember watching some film with Orson Welles narrating it at his most pompous "I am from the elite, and this [...]

Little Systems of Order

As we begin Advent, the Church confronts us with Jesus' teaching about the Second Coming. His disturbing warning is well-known in our post-Protestant culture: As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and [...]

Thinking, Not Imagining

Sometime back, I wrote a little piece about John Lennon's hymn to original sin (aka "Imagine"), expressing my bafflement at the fact that people (including Catholics who ought to know better) regard this as a hope-filled anthem of the Coming Great Rosy Dawn and not as what it is: Music to Accompany the Machine Gunning [...]

God and the Geeks

My first major spiritual crisis occurred when I was five years old. It was the early 1980s, and a local UHF station had started airing a new cartoon called Transformers during my family's Mass time of choice. As long as we didn't stop to talk to neighbors on our way home, I'd still be able [...]

Mere Theism: The Case for God

Some years ago, my kids got a computer game called Myst. It's a very curious game -- there are no instructions, no rules, and no commentary offered at the beginning. You find yourself plunked down into a strange environment on a mysterious island. You don't know where you are or why you're there. As you [...]

Chesterton’s Overrated Novella

  This year marks the pseudo-centennial of G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. (First published as a pilot edition in 1907, the work was published in wider numbers the following year.) Journals as divergent as The New Yorker and The National Review have honored the anniversary with positive assessments of the book, which [...]

A Firefly Named ‘Serenity’

There was a lot of buzz on the Internet recently about rumors of a possible sequel to the 2005 film Serenity. The news even made it to the Catholic world: I blogged on it, as did Mark Shea and even Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. That a mere rumor could kick up such a stir -- the [...]

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