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Posts tagged "Graham Greene"

Church of the Deconstruction

Church of the Deconstruction

This piece was featured in Issue 7 of The Mockingbird: The Church Issue. Issue 8 is well underway!

In a recent visit to Mexico, Pope Francis spoke to a congregation of Mexican bishops and clergy. His words were harsh, to say the least. Instead of decrying the social and political upheaval of the country, or its history of human trafficking and drug violence, the pontiff pointed the finger at his subordinates, warning them of their seduction by religious power:

Do not allow yourselves to be corrupted by trivial materialism or by the seductive illusion of underhanded agreements; do not place your faith…

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A Deathbed Summary of the Main Message (of Jesus)

A Deathbed Summary of the Main Message (of Jesus)

Last year, the story of Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi went viral–and for good reason. The 36 year old Dr. Kalanithi was dying of lung cancer and had written an article for Stanford Medicine, in which he addressed his infant daughter in such moving terms that it feels trite to try to describe them. It turns out that the essay was merely an excerpt of a book-length reflection, When Breath Becomes Air, which was published posthumously last month. Suffice to say, it will leave you in a puddle on the ground (his widow’s epilogue – Oh My Lord). Sarah commented powerfully…

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Ben Howard's Latest: Bad Catholicism

Ben Howard’s Latest: Bad Catholicism

For a number of reasons, I’m really glad I used Amazon Prime and pre-ordered Ben Howard’s latest album, I Forget Where We Were. Reason 1: I basked in Christmas-like joy when I got home Tuesday afternoon to find the album ready and waiting on my doorstep. Reason 2: The so-beautiful lyrics, which would otherwise elude me for all his British slurring, are printed inside the front cover.

If you’re not yet a Ben Howard groupie like myself, it’s possible you’ve heard of him from this rad song featured in Season 4 of The Walking Dead. And if still, somehow, he has…

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Happy Birthday, Graham Greene and Wallace Stevens

6a00d83451c83e69e20120a5663af8970c-300wiTo the masters of the pen, we wish a happy birthday to Graham Greene and Wallace Stevens. This is from an interview Greene did with the Paris Review back in 1953 (ht WB). Greene, as we’ve said before, had an impeccable grasp of the upturned nature of the love of God, its invisibility to the pious and visibility lended to the humbled (the term “whisky priest” is his). Here he is talking about the “nerve of a theme” that traces through many of his greats: Brighton Rock, The End of the Affair, The Living Room, The Power and the Glory:

Steady, steady. Let’s put it this way. I write about situations that are common, universal might be more correct, in which my characters are involved and from which only faith can redeem them, though often the actual manner of the redemption is not immediately clear. They sin, but there is no limit to God’s mercy and because this is important, there is a difference between not confessing in fact, and the complacent and the pious may not realize it.

 

The Christ of Silence, Part One: Prayer and the Folded Arms of God

The Christ of Silence, Part One: Prayer and the Folded Arms of God

Here launches a three-part, week-long miniseries on Shusaku Endo’s eminent novel, Silence, about a Portuguese missionary in religiously repressed, 17th century Japan. The priest, Sebastian Rodrigues, in a paradoxically doubt-rife and no-less-gracious way finds his wayward trail to his own Calvary and, accordingly, into the very heart of God.

The sea only stretches out endlessly, melancholy and dark, while below the grey clouds there is not the shadow of an island. There is no change.

What does it mean when we pray to no avail? When we call on God and there is no change? What is this cruel silence? How can…

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Another Week Ends: Inner Machiavellians, Lutheran Insults, Whisky Priests, Monkees, Mets, Parenthood, Veep, Viola Davis and Frankenweenie

Another Week Ends: Inner Machiavellians, Lutheran Insults, Whisky Priests, Monkees, Mets, Parenthood, Veep, Viola Davis and Frankenweenie

1. I’ll admit it: I’ve been trying to lay off the David Brooks, at least in the Weekend columns. As insightful as he frequently is, there are plenty of fish in the digital sea, are there not? Well, to paraphrase a Pacino, every time I think I’m out, he pulls me back in. That is to say, giving anything top billing other than his NY Times column from yesterday, “The Machiavellian Temptation,” would be dishonest. It’s getting to the point where I suspect we’re being punked a la Candid Camera. Anyway, this time around Herr Brooks is contrasting recent breakthroughs…

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The Paradox of The Power and the Glory, Part Three: Love and Death

The Paradox of The Power and the Glory, Part Three: Love and Death

Here we have the concluding segment of our three-part series on The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene’s novel on a Mexican priest bound in life to love and death.

[The lieutenant] wanted to destroy everything: to be alone without any memories at all…That, of course, was the best solution of all, to leave the living witness to the weakness of their faith…The lieutenant, lying on his hard bed, in the damp hot dark, felt no sympathy at all with the weakness of the flesh.

It is paradoxical that the power and the glory comes by means of sickness unto death. This…

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The Paradox of The Power and the Glory: Piety and the Whisky Priest

The Paradox of The Power and the Glory: Piety and the Whisky Priest

Continuing our three-part series on Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, we take a look at the paradoxical power of simul iustus et peccator in the nature of the whisky priest, the catholicity of the human experience, and the disarmament of piety in the name of love. For Part One, click here.

A priest passed to and fro before the altar saying Mass, but he took no notice: the service no longer seemed to concern him…someone out of sight rang the sanctus bell, and the serving priest knelt before he raise the Host. But he sat on, just waiting, paying…

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The Paradox of The Power and the Glory, Part One: The Criminal as Parishioner

The Paradox of The Power and the Glory, Part One: The Criminal as Parishioner

Here begins a week-long, three-part series on Graham Greene’s faith opus, The Power and the Glory, exploring his use of paradoxical realities of “this bloody land.” Through his “whisky priest,” the outlawed and only man left to administer the sacraments, Greene captures a world wherein the power is in the weak, and the glory is in the mire.

That’s another thing altogether—God is love. I don’t say the heart doesn’t feel a taste of it, but what a taste. The smallest glass of love mixed with a pint pot of ditch-water. We wouldn’t recognize that love. It might even look like…

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The Power and The Glory and Luke 19

The Power and The Glory and Luke 19

I was intrigued by a recent article in The NY Times entitled, “Mexican Church Takes a Closer Look at Donors,” which looks at the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico. Apparently it receives large donations from Mexican drug lords. It’s convicting for several reasons, and certainly made the ash on my head yesterday feel a little bit more real.

The first element I found convicting, especially during the season of Lent, was the idea of “an acceptable offering and sacrifice.” The article opens by pointing out that the Roman Catholic Chapel in Pachuca, Mexico has a plaque that honors its…

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