The Punisher and Change from the Outside In

The Punisher reminds us we live two lives: an inner life and an outer life, and that decisions we make here in this life affect our eternal souls.

The Phantom Tollbooth and Redeeming the Power of Words

A first step in caring will often have to be an individual one—a diversifying of social media feeds, an invitation to conversation, a reading of a book.

Sheathing the Sword: Akira Kurosawa and the Virtue of Meekness

Though our society is not built atop a system of knights and warlords, the theme of “might makes right” permeates entertainment and politics, and painfully shapes the stories we hear on the nightly news.

Walking in Joyce Byers’s Footsteps: Motherhood in a Stranger Things World

Joyce Byers—an axe-wielding woman who strings lights in the darkness to lead her son home and who knows when to let her son feel actual pain—is a paragon of motherhood.

Friends-giving Gives Everyone a Seat at the Table

For adults who don’t have a family of their own, Friends-giving is a trend that provides much-needed communion in the loneliness of the holidays.

The Spiritual Topology of Sleep Well Beast

The National’s latest, Sleep Well Beast, affirms that if heartbreak is particular to our times and places, to our own networks of relationships, then grace must be as well.

A Supernatural Neighbor

The benevolence of the spirits in My Neighbor Totoro serves as a reminder that the spiritual realm—though mysterious and unlike our own—is not something to fear.

You Are Not Actually Reading This Right Now: The Paradox of the Mind, and Why I Wrote a Psychological Thriller

Fiction is what we turn to when we have nagging questions that we can’t quite put into more precise language.

Drawn to the Things That Frighten Us

There is something deeper that lingers in the human psyche—something more than the experience, or a twisted desire for evil—something that horror taps into and awakens.

God’s Hand in Bill Paxton’s Frailty

It’s shockingly awful and shockingly compelling as horror because Paxton’s character remains so upsettingly loving and so fatherly throughout, clearly, sincerely believing in the killing he’s doing.

Local Ghosts

Even in the Hudson Valley, I think the larger appeal of Halloween is that our local ghosts can scare us, but we can, ultimately, domesticate them.

American Gods: A Pagan Enchantment Which Does Not Satisfy

What is it about the idea of things, powers, and beings beyond nature that draws people into these stories?

The Christological Vision of Pirates of the Caribbean

They made Pirates a supernatural story set in the “real world” that helps us to grasp the spiritual realities that those drowning in the real tend to deny.

A Priest for All Seasons: Murder, Mystery, and Contentment in Father Brown and Grantchester

As a practicing Catholic, I know that confession must occur even in the summertime, when the confessional booth is stuffy and both priest and penitent are itching to be elsewhere.

The Kingdom of God Is Like a Sticky Movie Theater Floor and a Neighborhood Concert

When people are wary of the church, these places show us what community can be: parties, music, good food, experiencing a good story, and the careful art of negotiating communal relationships.

Shedding Summer Skin

The nostalgia, wistfulness, and ache that Death Cab conjures up in the hearts of listeners is like no other.