First, a must-read for Catholic creatives: an exploration of the nature of creativity in the baptized mind and soul and of what it means for an artist to work within Catholic tradition(s): “Catholics cannot help but be Medieval-modern hybrids to varying tragedies and successes, often simultaneously. . . . Yet, this makes us, perhaps oddly, more responsible for our traditions of art because we must be more aware of them; it also makes us, not so oddly, tempted to retreat to what is familiar and to remain there. As if the art of the past were never bad, or weird, or failed.” The piece is from the recent series on Catholic imagination in the Church Life journal of Notre Dame: very much worth exploring.
We haven’t all seen the film, so the Dappled Things editorial board neither endorses nor contests the claims made about it here, but at least we enjoyed the revival of the perennial Book-versus-Movie debate in this Crisis piece on Branagh’s iteration of Christie’s well-known mystery Murder on the Orient Express.
Also in film review, Francine Prose discovers shades of Flannery O’Connor haunting the recent release Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: “and not only because, like her fiction, it is set in the rural South and leavens a deep seriousness with broad and often grotesque humor: a horrific and hilarious scene in a dentist’s office recalls precisely how O’Connor allows her characters to reach the boiling point—and boil over. McDonagh shares many of O’Connor’s preoccupations: obsession, fanaticism, eccentricity, violence, physical deformity, the lifelong legacy of guilt that can result from a family conflict, and the unexpected, even shocking ways in which the faithless can stumble upon redemption. Like O’Connor, he denies his characters an easy entry into a state of grace. McDonagh prefers to suggest the possibility of grace, and he makes it clear, as O’Connor does, that salvation, even partial salvation, requires thought, work, and struggle.”
And in time for the first Sunday of Advent, let’s dive into the archives of The Little Oratory author Leila Lawler for inspiration on how, and why, to prepare our homes and hearts for the Christ-child: “Just as a baby takes time to develop in the womb, just as Jesus developed in Mary’s womb, so it takes time for us to experience all these truths, some of which are hidden, just as He was hidden. We need each year, every year, to live through it again. It’s not make believe, any more than we “make believe” in Lent that Jesus hasn’t died on the cross. We are human — this is how we learn.”