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Archive for November 26th 2008

Australian film critic Richard Leonard, S.J., reflects on the popularity of "The Dark Knight," "Wall-E" and other fantasy films from 2008. The fantasy genre has been big since the early 1970s, Leonard argues, and our fascination with superheroes and villains has had a notable impact on our views on politics and even faith. Father Leonard is the director of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting. Read the groups's review of "Australia" and other films from 2008.

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Controversial peace activist and Jesuit priest John Dear talks about his new book, A Persistent Peace: One Man's Struggle for a Nonviolent World, which chronicles his conversion from a "spoiled frat boy" at Duke University to a crusading opponent of war who has been arrested over 70 times. A frequent traveler who has visited war zones worldwide, Dear has waged an especially intense campaign against the military activities of the United States, a country he believes is fast on its way to becoming an empire. Dear talks about his commitment to the Beatitudes, why every Catholic should join Pax Christi and why America should stop accepting advertisements for military chaplains.

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Tim Reidy visits Symphony Space, a concert hall in New York, for a centennial celebration of the music of Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), a Catholic composer who, in the words of Father John Coleman, sought to use music to "communicate the mysteries of Christ to non-believers." The associate artistic director of Symphony Space, and two of the artists who took part in the centennial performance, discuss the spiritual power of Messiaen's work, and what makes him unique among twentieth-century composers. Podcast includes samples from "Visions de l'Amen" and Messiaen's groundbreaking "Quartet for the End of Time." Read Father John Coleman's article on Messiaen's music in the Nov. 24 edition of America.

Excerpted performances of Messiaen's work are widely available on Youtube. Here are samples of the compositions discussed during the podcast:

"Le Merle Noir"

"Quartet for the End of Time"

"Visions de'l'Amen"

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Therese J. Borchard of the Beliefnet blog Beyond Blue talks about battling depression, and the spiritual resources she turns to in times of need.

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