Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

“Fatima”: A Family Moviegoing Experience in Re-release

First released to positive reactions in August 2020, Fatima will be rereleased across the country Friday, May 7, 2021, exclusively at AMC Theatres. As the nation begins to open up, and this re-release is well-timed for both Mother’s Day and the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, we are offering another look at Word on Fire Fellow Andrew Petiprin’s earlier review. Venerable Fulton Sheen described October 13, 1917, as “the birthday of the modern world.” He noted, “It was on that day that the forces of good and evil seemed to reach their peak.” As the Bolshevik Revolution began in Russia and World War I raged on, a ten-year-old Portuguese girl named Lúcia dos Santos, along with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, led tens of thousands of people to witness “the Miracle of the Sun,” the last in a peculiar series of Marian apparitions. There are countless testimonies…

“Chronicles of Faith: David”—Introducing Scripture to a New Generation

Are we twenty-first-century Catholics in the middle of an exciting renaissance of the Christian creative genius? It seems so. Thanks to social media and crowdfunding sites, it is easier than ever for independent artists, musicians, and writers to share their work with audiences who are hungering to be entertained and inspired. Even comic books are experiencing a resurgence in popularity and cultural influence, thanks in large part to the success of big-budget Hollywood franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Voyage Comics founder Philip Kosloski and I discussed in a recent interview for Word on Fire, the comic book scene is currently dominated by secular voices, but Christian comic creators have never been better poised to evangelize the culture through this dynamic literary and artistic medium. Very recently, I had the pleasure of reading a new comic book, Chronicles of Faith: David, that, through its gorgeous artwork and…

How the Films of Terrence Malick Can Teach Christian Meditation

In his 1966 “Memorial Address”, German philosopher Martin Heidegger stated “man today is in flight from thinking.” By “thinking” he did not mean computation or what he calls “calculative thought” but “meditative thinking” which is an “openness to the mystery.” Identifying the special nature of man as a meditative being, Heidegger believed our greatest task in this thoughtless age is “keeping meditative thinking alive.” No one does this better through film than former Heideggerean scholar, now filmmaker, Terrence Malick.   American Film is often associated with thoughtlessness. As part of the entertainment industry, movies are becoming theme park extensions rather than art. But Malick’s movies are different. He has elevated film beyond mere entertainment, showing how it can be a medium of contemplation and wonder, instilling in audiences a meditative spirit ready to welcome the Lord and become “hearers of the Word.” …

Think, Think, Think!

Over the last two decades, I have spent a great deal of time working with and teaching medical students. Extraordinary sponges of knowledge, these eager scholars emerge from the dark cave of incessant testing and classwork (dominating their first two years of medical school) only to be bleary and blinded by the deep complexity of the patients in their charge. Sated with knowledge, but bereft of experience, they find themselves going down abstruse rabbit holes of inquiry, entertaining inconceivably long lists of diagnoses, and performing the most contortionist of exam maneuvers. After emerging from the patient’s room (usually fifteen minutes later than desirable), students find themselves dazed yet delighted. They are finally practicing medicine. What unfolds next is a torrent of semi-organized information offered with pressured speech and intermittent eye contact while hands fumble through countless papers of chicken-scratched notes. As we begin to entertain the crux of the visit—what…

First Impressions: A Former Presbyterian Is “Surprised by Mary”

I cannot remember exactly why I knelt before a statue of the Virgin Mary for the first time. It was about a year ago. I suspect my priest told me to pray a few Hail Marys after confession. I’d seen parishioners pray on the kneeler before her at the front of the sanctuary. As a new Catholic, I’d been testing out various “features” of my new faith home. Why not say my prayers there? Usually, the first time I experiment with a new spiritual practice my analytical mind takes over and ponders what I’m doing and whether it “makes sense.” This is a perfectly good way to undermine any spiritual benefit that might accrue to me (but, alas, most of the time, that’s the way it works for me at first). For example, when I took the Rosary for a spin a couple of times, my mind was fixated on…

“The Chosen,” Season 2: Getting Jesus the God-Man Right

I have come very late to the party for the acclaimed, crowd-funded dramatic series The Chosen. Even though my colleague Rachel Bulman reassured us all that it was not a typically “kitschy or pretentious” offering from the Christian entertainment industry, I kept my distance. But with the recent debut of season 2, I decided to take a look. I am thoroughly sold on it, and inspired. This season picks up with Jesus and the apostolic band continuing to make their way through Samaria and Syria. The episodes are composed so far of one deeply affecting scene after another, with superb acting led by Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus. In the first three episodes of the new season, the apostles Thomas, Matthew, and Philip have come into prominence, and the introduction of Nathaniel has offered another new, deeply moving example of the life-changing power of the God-man Jesus that The…

Christ at the Center: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “As kingfishers catch fire”

“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” the Psalmist tells us (Ps. 38:4). It’s a good way to sum up ‘leading with beauty’ as an approach to evangelization. We are inviting others to the great wedding feast, the banquet of the Lord. To be sure, it’s vitally important to share with them the fact that this banquet is real, not imaginary (truth), and that it’s perfectly nourishing above all other foods (goodness). But before people will care about that side of things, they need to be interested in the meal itself—and a whiff of what’s cooking in the kitchen is far more effective than a nutritional chart when it comes to convincing a busy and distracted person to sit down for a meal. How can we do that? One way is through literature that gives a taste of the banquet, a glimpse of what it means to be a…

Louis Marie de Montfort and the Spirituality of “Totus Tuus”

Today is the feast day of St. Louis Marie de Montfort (1673-1716). St. Louis was a French priest who is remembered for his love for the Blessed Mother and for being the author of the classic book True Devotion to Mary. Within that great work is a prayer where St. Louis writes to Mary: “Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt”—“I am totally yours and all that I have is yours.” With these words, St. Louis not only expresses his love for Mary but his desire to belong completely to God like her and with her. Louis believed that this Marian spirituality of “Totus tuus . . . totally yours” is “the most perfect of all devotions” because “it conforms, unites, and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ” (St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary). Roll on to October 1978 when the newly elected Pope John…

The Hard World and How to Restore Mercy to a Merciless Age

“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.” – G.K. Chesterton We live in a merciless age. Gone are the days of the uncalculating kind word, the politely doffed hat, and the deferential door-opening. No longer is it customary for the young to offer their bus seat to an elder, for the rushing commuter to allow someone to merge, or for the unconsciously offered “please” and timely penned thank-you note. When any of this does happen, it is the exception and not the rule. Flatly counter-cultural instead of cultural. Sadly, our conversation is even worse. People talk all the time and rarely listen. And when they do “listen,” they process nothing their interlocutor is offering. Instead, they simply stay silent while crafting their next rebuttal or riposte. It is…

Kaplan Interview, Part II: “Our Victim Is a Better Victim Than Your Victim”

In the first part of our interview, Dr. Grant Kaplan introduced René Girard and the basics of his theory of mimetic desire. In this last part of the interview, Dr. Kaplan explains why Girard’s analysis is apologetically useful and similar to some insights made by modern figures like Nietzsche and Freud.  Robert Mixa: Besides Freud, who else influenced Girard?  Grant Kaplan: Nietzsche. Nietzsche sees the situation very clearly. He cannot stand what he sees, and so when he talks about the priest, he will talk about the priest in this very nasty way and say the priest is this “vampire” of society.  The challenge is to go through the exercise. Imagine you have two primitive societies with equal access to natural resources. They have the same access to water, food, etc. Imagine that one society is going to be areligious. They are going…