The National Catholic Review

Culture

January 2017

  • January 20, 2017

    La gente hace los Ejercicios espirituales de San Ignacio por diversas razones. Prepararse para el rol principal de un filme de Martin Scorsese no es una de las razones que se oyen más frecuentemente, aunque no sea probablemente la peor. A menudo, muchos hombres y mujeres hacen retiros para encontrar claridad sobre quiénes son o sobre lo que están llamados a ser. Supongo que así fue para Andrew Garfield, cuando le pidió a James Martin S.J., de America magazine, que lo guíe a través de los...

  • January 18, 2017

    Martin Scorsese’s new film “Silence,” about 17th-century Jesuit missionaries in Japan, recently opened worldwide. In the days following its release, I’ve been asked many questions by people who know that I served as one of the film’s consultants. Many of the questions were remarkably similar. And these same issues have bedeviled a few reviewers who seem not to have fully grasped some of the film’s significant religious themes. In general, reviewers who seem open to questions of faith have...

  • January 13, 2017

    Is Sherlock Holmes back? Well, it depends on how we define “back.” Does it mean these stories are required reading in honors courses? Or does it mean new novels and short stories by wannabe Arthur Conan Doyles who imagine they can match the master? Or is it the TV series, like “Elementary” on CBS and “Sherlock” on Masterpiece, that modernizes the dark, foggy streets and mansions of 19th-century London, replaces the mumbling, servile comrade Dr. Watson with a tough-minded girlfriend and...

  • January 10, 2017

    On the surface, the ultra high-definition images of the exotic creatures in Planet Earth II can seem almost pornographic. Here are intimate encounters with nature, accessible to all with the click of a button, but curated and stylized to show only the most tantalizing views. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and the intense gaze of the...

  • January 10, 2017

    People make the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola for a variety of reasons. Preparing to play a featured role in a Martin Scorsese film is not one you hear often, but it's probably not the worst reason. Men and women often make retreats to find some clarity about who they are or who they’re called to be. I suppose it was so for Andrew Garfield when he asked America ’s James Martin, S.J., to guide him through the Exercises as he prepared to play the lead role in Mr. Scorsese’s new...

  • January 10, 2017

    The true ordeal of the Teton Lakota, the warrior tribe that whipped the U.S. Cavalry in several notable fights in the 1870s, began after the shooting stopped. Worse than the persistent hunger was the federal effort to “civilize” the Indians by stages into hat- and trouser-wearing farmers with one wife, Christian first names, fixed last names and children who learned English in school. But the authorities had one aim above all others—to end the ancient practice of smoking a traditional pipe...

  • January 10, 2017

    Sin Bravely, by Maggie Rowe, is a memoir about a young evangelical Christian in desperate need of a good spiritual director. The narrator and heroine is an aspiring actress who cannot be sure she has been saved, even though she has accepted Jesus as her personal savior not once, but many, many times. Hers is a spiritual journey in reverse, one that starts from a position of belief but then slowly seems to back away from it.

    The catchy title comes from Martin Luther: “Sin bravely so...

  • January 10, 2017

    “I am a contradiction,” says Pope Pius XIII, born Lenny Belardo—the first American pope. HBO’s sleek, provocative new series The Young Pope suggests paradox is part and parcel of Catholicism. Fictional and real pontiffs resist our attempts to classify and simplify them.

    Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, and starring Jude Law and Diane Keaton, “The Young Pope” is visually arresting, and occasionally surreal. Dream sequences are stretched to their limit. In the first episode,...

  • January 10, 2017

    Nations, like people, fight over many basic things like money, power, ideas and land—especially land. No matter how big or small the land is, if it’s worth something, it’s worth fighting for. This has been the case with Crimea, the underbelly of Russia. It has been noted that Crimea is a place difficult to leave, physically as well as emotionally. The Tartars considered it Yesil Ada , “the Green Isle.” No bigger than Massachusetts, it has historically captured the imaginations of people as...

  • January 10, 2017

    After decades of books that described presidential campaigns as thrill rides, in which any bold move or gaffe could prove decisive, political scientists have begun to push back. The fundamentals are what count, they say: debate performances mean little next to the state of the economy and whether voters are tired of the party in power. Audacity , a brisk assessment of Barack Obama’s tenure as president, comes off as a similar exercise in reframing. Jonathan Chait, a columnist for New York...

  • January 10, 2017

    In 1987, at the age of 63, James Baldwin died of cancer in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France. At the time of his death, the author was working on Remember This House, a memoir on the civil rights movement framed through his relationships with Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. In a 1979 letter to his editor, Jay Acton, describing his vision for the book, he wrote, “I want these three lives to bang against and reveal each other.” The memoir was never finished.

    In I Am Not...

  • January 6, 2017

    On New Year’s Day, Sherlock began its much anticipated fourth season after a three-year hiatus. (A one-off special episode aired a year ago to ensure that its rabid fans would not lose any of their rabidity in the meantime.) The show, a joint production of the BBC and PBS, airing both in the United States and the United Kingdom, has become a global phenomenon. It has found an especially devoted audience among that most sought after of demographic groups—millennials—as evidenced in the...

  • January 3, 2017

    The Irish scribe James Joyce spent thousands of hours with the Jesuits, who educated him as a youth and who figure prominently in his debut novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , which just saw the 100th anniversary of its initial publication on Dec. 29, 1916. Though Portrait wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of his educators, they permanently influenced the author, who once remarked to a friend, “You allude to me as a Catholic. Now for the sake of precision and to get the...