Literary Rant #4

Today I want to tell you about a lesser known work of one of the English language’s most famous authors, Mark Twain. It is a travesty that this is not one of his better known books…

“I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.”

Mark Twain

This book is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. Ever.

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Updating the PhD Thing

Officially it has been one year and one month since I started my PhD. Lots has been going on since I began and thankfully, the process of writing the proposal has been enormously helpful in crystallising and controlling the scope of the thesis.
The proposal itself is off to the research committee for the final time after a round of revisions. I’m not forging ahead into the literature review with an eye to knocking down draft chapters between now and this time next year.

My investigation has been clarified from a vague notion of the “influence of the Vatican on the politics of Latin America” to… *drum roll*…

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The Machine’s Long Shadow

Today is Remembrance Day. It’s also St Martin of Tour’s Feast Day, and has been long before the First World War was even a remotely imaginable possibility.

St Martin of Tours lived and died in the 4th century. He was the son of a solider, became a Christian as a teenager, served in the Cavalry for 25 years before becoming a priest and, reluctantly, a bishop of Tours. It is entirely fitting that he shares his feast day with the end of the most devastating war that swallowed an entire generation of young men from the whole of Europe and left it shattered.

Australians tend to have a bit of a myopic perspective on the Great War thanks to our woefully inadequate history curriculum that focuses on the Gallipoli campaign. What changed my entire perspective on the Great War began first,

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Literary Rant #3

***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

In today’s installment of Literary Rants I’ve been reading George Bernard Shaw’s classic play Pygmalion. It’s a story arc that has its roots in Greek mythology (from which it gets its name) that has been told again and again in pop-culture. Most faithfully retold in the movie My Fair Lady, but appears in numerous genres and variations from The Kingsmen to Pretty Woman.

Luke and Victoria have also been reading it and you can listen in to our discussion here:

Catholic’s Read… Pygmalion

The first thing that struck me about this classic work is that GBS is clearly over compensating for the lack of stage direction in Shakespeare by providing copious amounts of detail. As it turns out, after getting to the end of the play and doing a little research

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Literary Rant #2

***Contains Spoilers***

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

This is a classic novel in the dystopia genre that was published in the 1930s. It is one of my favourite books and was enormously influential in my philosophical and theological formation. Given that this novel is such a classic, and it is not long, you should go read it. Or you can listen in to the plot summary here:

Catholics Read… Brave New World

I should also warn you, if you’re literary reading list is mostly composed of  Little Women on the Prairie, the Anne Montgomery series, Pony Pals and the The Babysitters Club, this will book will be a rude and possibly confronting shock. If, you are a jaded, tired post-modern gal like me, very little in this book would surprise you, and that, is probably a worse position to be in.

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Literary Rant #1

***Contains Spoilers***

Curious Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

I have been doing a radio show on literature with Cradio for nearly two years now. Given this is our 50th Episode Special (kind of, not really planned…), it is about time I actually wrote something about the books, poems and short stories we’ve been reading. I might even revisit books I’ve already read in this series and also throw in books that I’ve been reading for fun too.

So first one… a classic horror story from the author of Treasure Island fame. Most people think they know this classic story: it’s obviously the Victorian precursor to the Incredible Hulk (as portrayed, for example, in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen aka, the Victorian Avengers with Sean Connery).

Yeeahhh… no. It’s really not. It is actually far more complex and far more interesting than modern pop culture references give it credit for.

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An Idiot’s Attempt to Make Sense of Laudato Si’: Take 2

So it has been a long time coming this Part 2, mainly because of the crazy semester I’ve had. It is now nearly over, and I have some headspace to write for fun now! Now… where were we? Ah yes! The second part of the podcast is available here or you can go read the document yourself. It’s still free on the Vatican website, however you should be suitably warned…

Warning: This document has the potential to radically alter the way you see the world. Do not read unless you are prepared to ‘take the medicine’ without the sugar or complaining.

Now onwards to solving the problem that Laudato Si names: Human Beings, particularly modern human beings. Modern human beings, according to Pope Francis, have lost the point of the economic game. Making money, has become either an ends in itself or a means to mindless consumption. This mindless consumption is destroying our planet and also destroying our souls with it.

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An Idiot’s Attempt to Make Sense of ‘Laudato Si’: Take One

One of the great things about doing a regular literature podcast is that you have to read the damn books, which I do with varying success (T.S. Elliot defeated me utterly…). This was a great opportunity to read the latest source of controversy, Laudato Si’: Pope Francis’ much anticipated and dreaded encyclical on care of the natural world.

Listen to the podcast here

You can access the entire text of the document for free from the Vatican Website. I should attach a caution to this document before you go toddle off to go and read it.

Warning: This document has the potential to radically alter the way you see the world. Do not read unless you are prepared to ‘take the medicine’ without the sugar or complaining.

Now that you are suitably warned, I am going to tackle this ‘Idiot’s Attempt’ a little counter intuitively by telling you what the document IS NOT about.

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