May 8, 2019

Book review: “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler

Halfway through Raymond Chandler’s 1939 hard-boiled, highly praised novel The Big Sleep, the rich and wild Vivian Regan turns Philip Marlowe in the front seat of their parked car and says: “Hold me close, you beast.” Eighty years ago, that must have had a different resonance.  It must have had an edge of shock for the reader — a married upper-class woman throwing herself sexually at a gumshoe, her father’s hireling. Today, though, it brings to mind generations of comedies and comedians who have parodied that sort of line to the point that what it raised in me wasn’t shock but a laugh. In minor ways, The Big Sleep is a victim of its own popularity and acclaim.  It spawned waves and waves of imitators, bad and good.  To read it today is to read it in the context of all those who were influenced so deeply by the book. It’s also a bit of a victim of its age.  Marlowe, the book’s narrator, is disgusted at the two gay characters in the story, and his denigrating comments make a modern reader squirm.  Because Chandler is presenting Marlowe as a rare decent person in a world of betrayal, selfishness, greed […]
September 1, 2017

Chicago History: The short and tragic life of Johnny Lindquist

For the last month of his short and tragic life in the summer of 1972, he was known to Chicago simply as Johnny.  Forty-five years ago today, he died. He was the West Side six-year-old who’d been beaten and kicked and slammed into a coma by his father, and his plight touched the hearts of those in the Chicago region and around the nation, and prompted a vigil of love, praying for his recovery. His story filled Chicago’s four daily newspapers and the radio and television newscasts. And it changed the law. For nearly half a century, Illinois children and those in the rest of the United States have been better protected against abuse and neglect because of what that young boy went through. His name was Johnny Lindquist. He was born in Chicago to William and Irene Lindquist on August 28, 1965. His mother contracted tuberculosis, and, for the first years of his life, Johnny shuttled back and forth between his parents and a series of foster homes. In 1969, a Catholic Charities caseworker reported to a Juvenile Court judge that, by the end of one recent visit, Johnny was “covered with bruises and scars inflicted by both parents.” A […]
January 4, 2016

The Prayer of Pope Francis (Adapted from his speech at the conclusion of the 2014 synod)

Lord, help us to avoid the temptation to hostile inflexibility. Lord, help us to avoid the temptation to treat symptoms and not root causes, to bind wounds without first treating them and curing them. Lord, help us to avoid the temptation to transform bread into a stone and cast it against sinners, the weak and the sick. Lord, help us to avoid the temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of the Lord. Lord, help us to avoid the temptation to act as owners or masters of the faith. Lord, help us to avoid the temptation to turn our eyes away from reality.   Lord, help us build a Church that is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wounds. A Church that doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. A Church, one, holy, catholic, apostolic, that is composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. A Church that is the true Bride of Christ. A Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes […]