First Reformed: The toxic mess of syncretism

There’s a lot to process in Paul Schrader’s latest film, “First Reformed.” The first half of the film sets up as a powerful, even brilliant, study of spiritual desolation and the cross-currents of modern idolatry and traditional religion. Continue Reading...

Isolationism and internationalism in Black Panther

I finally got around to seeing Black Panther last night, and my early reaction echoes so much of the overwhelmingly positive response to the film. As so many superhero tales do, Black Panther weaves together complex ideas within the often deceptively fantastical trappings of science fiction and fantasy. Continue Reading...

Jerry Pournelle, Russell Kirk Conservative: RIP

Jerry Pournelle passed away in early September and is memorialized in this week’s “Upstream” segment of the Radio Free Acton podcast. An accomplished man in many fields in both the public and private sectors, he perhaps is best known as the author and co-author of a shelf-full of science-fiction novels. Continue Reading...

Czeslaw Milosz: Poet Laureate of Freedom

[A review of Milosz: A Biography by Andrzej Franasszek, edited and translated by Aleksandra and Michael Parker, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge University, 2017, 526 pp., $35] “What is poetry which does not save/Nations or people?” – Czeslaw Milosz (“Dedication”) In the 1970s – the last full decade before Poland finally freed itself from the shackles of communist control –Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity, the Soviet bloc’s first trade union, was arrested on more than one occasion. Continue Reading...

Review: A visually powerful tribute to The Dunkirk Spirit

In a new blockbuster film, director Christopher Nolan faithfully captures for the big screen the frantic chaos and desperation of the Allied forces at Dunkirk in 1940. It is another vivid reminder that, as so many throughout history have reminded us, “War is hell.” Those who know their history understand that on the French beaches of the Strait of Dover, the Allied forces are thrown once again into another world conflict, this time to protect Western freedom and its democratic ideals. Continue Reading...

Arvo Pärt on the economy of wonder

Our society has grown increasingly transactional in its ways of thinking, whether about family, business, education, or politics. Everything we spend, steward, or invest — our money, time, and relationships — must somehow secure an immediate personal return or reward, lest it be cast aside as “wasteful.” As an overarching philosophy of life, such an approach fails not due only due to its narrow individualism, but also to its cramped obsession with scarcity, standing in stark contrast with the lavish abundance and gratuitous generosity of the Gospel. Continue Reading...

Lenin’s Trip to Infamy

One hundred years ago, the man Winston Churchill dubbed a “plague bacillus” journeyed back from his exile in Europe to eventually seize the reins of power in his native Russia. Vladimir Lenin’s itinerary could not have been more fraught with peril and subterfuge, which makes it an ideal framing story for a recap of the rise of 20th century totalitarianism. Continue Reading...