David Bentley Hart

Ephemera, 08/07/23

“Got a special celebration on your parish calendar? A.I. can compose a unique hymn for the occasion!” Is this satire?

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I’ve very recently started reading David Bentley Hart’s translation of the New Testament as part of my morning routine, usually a chapter at a time. Reading the gospel as something both familiar and strange has really fired me up and improved my focus. I’ve been writing lengthy notes on each chapter in my own journal; don’t worry, I’m not subjecting the interwebs to my stream-of-consciousness Biblical babbling. But these readings may lead to some other posts here.

I mention all this just because Richard Beck had a great quote from DBH’s introduction to this translation (which makes a fascinating essay in its own right) which feels perfect for a Monday. Of the shocking and strange message of Christianity (which most of us forget is either shocking or strange, we are so immersed in, or bored by, it), DBH says, “I doubt any of us has ever understood it nearly as well as we imagine.”

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I still remember the first time I heard Sinead O’Connor. I was a college freshman, and my friend Chris played “The Lion and the Cobra” for me in his dorm room. “Mandinka” is what always gets mentioned, and it’s a great song on a great album, but it’s the very first track, “Jackie,” with its cold and plaintive opening, that haunts me to this day.

I’ve been washing the sand
With my salty tears
Searching the shore
For these long years
And I’ll walk the seas forever more

Ephemera, 07/01/23

I didn’t find the Harrison Ford digital facelift as creepy as the New York Times reviewer; they did a better job with the CGI than I expected. But “generally silly,” “not entirely charmless” — sure. It was a fun, dumb night at the movies. But, my God — so long! Movies do not need to be, and shouldn’t be, as long as they have become. Save money, Hollywood, and end bladder strain. Make shorter films.

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The Tour de France began this morning. Many Americans assume that it’s the only such race, but if you are married to an avid cyclist and cycling fan, like I am, you learn that there are many. Still, TDF is a big deal and will be consuming about half the mental space in my household over the next few weeks. Also, if you are a newcomer to the sport or merely cycling-curious or even well-versed in it like he is, my husband strongly recommends that you watch the Netflix documentary series Tour de France: Unchained.

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“The vital powers of Christendom are now entirely spent. Some far rougher beast is on the way just at the moment, and the Integralists and the National Conservatives are simply some of the more pathetic of its idiot accomplices.” (David Bentley Hart)