US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Making sense of Sunday

Is ‘Come Sunday’ the tale of a brave spirit or a tragedy about a religious tradition that gives its followers few tools for making sense of their faith?

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Article Culture

In the past 25 years or so, nondenominational evangelical Protestantism seems to have become the state religion of the American suburbs, and in many of those churches every pastor is a pope. They face no educational requirement, and their only accountability comes when the offering basket is passed. If it is full enough then grace abounds. If a preacher rubs congregants the wrong way, abuses their trust, or just tells them things they don’t want to hear, they leave. 


In new pope biopic, Pope Francis finds space to speak

‘Pope Francis: A Man of His Word’ is more than just the top hits of Francis’ papacy.

By Kathleen Manning |
Article Culture

Midway through the documentary Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, there is an image that brings to mind scenes from May’s Met Gala celebrating Catholic imagination in fashion. Notably, there was no outfit at the ball resembling the cheap yellow rain poncho Pope Francis wore to celebrate Mass in the Philippines during a tropical storm. Nor was there anything resembling the simple habit papal namesake and ex-fashionista Francis of Assisi donned after renouncing his wealth to take up preaching the gospel.


5 questions with Randall Wright on ‘Summer in the Forest’

A new documentary traces Jean Vanier’s founding of L’Arche, providing a window into the existence of people with disabilities.

By Elizabeth Lefebvre |
Article Culture

Getting dressed. Going to work. Enjoying dinner with friends or family. Celebrating an engagement. These are just a few of the moments a new documentary, Summer in the Forest, captures that provide a glimpse into the lives of people with disabilities living in L’Arche communities.


Who gets to be a hero?

The Black Panther is the hero we need right now.

By Pamela Hill Nettleton |
Article Culture

In ancient Greece, heroes were half god, half human. Comic superheroes followed that mold—unlikely people with exceptional abilities to leap tall buildings or fly invisible planes, celebrating the potential greatness hidden in mere mortals and making common folk feel as if they, too, might someday rise. 


The saintliness of Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers believed that love, embodied as justice and compassion, could change the world.

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Article Culture

This is the year when America seems to be experiencing the 50th anniversary of everything—the Tet Offensive, the 1968 riots, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. But in the midst of that maelstrom, on February 19, 1968, the still, small voice of Fred Rogers began to be heard on the nation’s embryonic network of public television stations. 


In ‘Lucky,’ a contemplation of the reality of death

‘Lucky’ tackles both aging and death with feeling and dignity.

By John Christman |
Article Culture
Lucky
Directed by John Carroll Lynch (Magnolia Pictures, 2017)

Harry Dean Stanton died on September 15, 2017 at the age of 91. This was just after completing the film Lucky, in which Stanton plays a man named Lucky who is approaching the end of his life and contemplating the reality of death and the meaning of existence. It’s a powerful convergence and gives Lucky an even more momentous and sobering dimension.


Women are the true heroes of Star Wars

It’s not only in Star Wars where men flake out and women hold firm—it happens in scripture, too.

By Rebecca Bratten Weiss |
Article Culture

I went to see The Last Jedi with some immature trepidation, since I’m more emotionally invested in this story than I should be, not being a teenager doing crappy cosplay before I knew cosplay was a thing anymore. For me, you see, the Star Wars epic is not just a story. It’s one of “my” stories—the stories I have carried with me and that helped shape my imagination, my sense of humanity, and my understanding of our relationships to the cosmos.


Reminiscing about high school with ‘Lady Bird’

Greta Gerwig’s characters are real, flawed people whose struggles and successes aren’t all that different from those I faced at my all-girls high school.

By Rosie McCarty |
Article Culture

I have never seen a movie more true to experience at an all-girls Catholic high school than Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird.


In ‘Mother!’ the side of motherhood Catholics don’t talk about

Invasion and destruction aren’t the experiences new mothers expect.

By Jessica Mesman Griffith |
Article Culture

Religious horror is a film genre in its own right, and Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist are among my all-time favorites. But even horror movies that aren’t explicitly religious stoke my religious imagination, exploring questions of who suffers and why and to what end. The best aren’t the goriest but rather those that articulate or give shape to our deepest unseen fears.


The morality lessons in NBC’s ‘The Good Place’

We’re all doing the best we can, but is it enough to get us to the ‘good place’?

By Elizabeth Lefebvre |
Article Culture

“Who was right?”

It’s one of the first questions Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) asks after arriving in the afterlife, curious about how her new surroundings work. Her guide, an immortal being named Michael (Ted Danson), explains, “Every religion got it about 5 percent right. It’s not the heaven or hell idea you were raised on, but generally speaking, in the afterlife there’s a good place and a bad place.”


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