Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A conversation full of light, mercy and grace

A while back I posted some thoughts on one of the most compelling books I've ever read: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.

This week's White Horse Inn podcast is a conversation between the author and Michael Horton. I hope you check it out.

An Interview with Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

Monday, February 24, 2014

What evolution can't explain (Chesterton)

It is not contended here that these primitive men did wear clothes any more than they did weave rushes; but merely that we have not enough evidence to know whether they did or not. But it may be worthwhile to look back for a moment at some of the very few things that we do know and that they did do. . . . we do know that they did have pictures; and the pictures have remained. And there remains with them, as already suggested, the testimony to something that is absolute and unique; that belongs to man and to nothing else except man; that is a difference of kind and not a difference of degree. A monkey does not draw clumsily and a man cleverly; a monkey does not begin the art of representation and a man carry it to perfection. A monkey does not do it at all; he does not begin to do it at all; he does not begin to begin to do it at all. A line of some kind is crossed before the first faint line can begin.

Quote from the chapter called "Professors and Prehistoric Men" in The Everlasting Man

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967 - 2014)

When I heard the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death on Sunday afternoon it hit me harder than I would have expected. The melancholy has lingered and I couldn't have said exactly why until reading Ross Douthat's tribute, where he captures why Hoffman meant so much to those of us of roughly the same generation of film buffs.

So his greatness was not the kind of greatness that we’re used to from our actors, and its full measure seems fully apparent only in hindsight, now that he’s been taken from us. Or at least that’s how it seems to me, and maybe this is mostly just a highly personal reaction … because Hoffman began to deliver great performances around the time I began to really appreciate the movies — during my late teenage years, so that “The Big Lebowski” and “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (“Tommy — how’s the peeping?”) are all clustered together in my memory, and he stands out as one of the first contemporary actors whose work I really, truly noticed. But in noticing it, I also came to take it for granted, as something that would always be there, something to be counted on, something as essential to the moviegoing experience as previews and popcorn, blockbusters in the summer and Oscar bait in the fall.

That's it. The last few days I've been recalling memorable Hoffman performances and it's funny how many of them came in films that were revelatory experiences during the time when I was morphing from casual moviegoer to devoted lover of motion pictures. The first Hoffman role I thought of when I saw the Breaking News headline on CNN was the hospice nurse Phil Parma in P.T. Anderson's Magnolia (I can remember exactly where I was sitting, stunned, in the movie theater as the closing credits rolled on that one). Happily someone has uploaded one of Phil/Philip's scenes to YouTube. I post it here as tribute.