Monday, August 03, 2015
Interview with Julie Geller: Mom, Singer, and Songwriter
Editor’s Note: Altcatholicah is committed to interfaith dialogue and fostering fruitful conversation about faith and gender. Here, Melissa Langsam Braunstein interviews a Jewish singer and songwriter about the challenges of balancing career and motherhood as well as about the role her faith plays in influencing her music.

Julie Geller is living her musical dream. The Denver-based mother of three children aged three to eleven, writes and performs her own music. Her melodies are catchy and her lyrics, whether Jewish or secular, are inspiring. She recently spoke with me about parenting, performing, and Passover. ()

Latest in Arts & Culture

Uncoupling with Gwyneth
I’ve been digesting the Gwenyth Paltrow/Chris Martin split over the last week. Also chicken, because almost immediately after receiving the news of the break-up in my inbox, GP sent me some very helpful advice on getting three whole meals out of one bird (yes, I am a total, loud and proud, unapologetic GOOP fan). Like many women my age, I have had a love/hate thing going on with Gwyneth Paltrow since the late 90s. Actually, for me it’s less black and white than love/hate—it's more along the lines of mixed emotions, a fantastic blend of utter fascination and smug disgust. ()

Why We Need Fairytales
It's not news that there’s been a litany of anti-princess messaging across the social media world and blogosphere. We’ve seen it with Sonya Sotomayer’s appearance on Sesame Street, in the latest advertising for engineering-themed holiday gifts for girls (see: Goldiblox), and now even in Mercy Academy’s publicity stunt to get Ellen Degeneres’ attention. There’s nothing wrong with—actually there’s a whole lot of good in—teaching young girls they needn’t wait for a prince in order for their life to start, or in giving young girls toys to play with that involve their brains. I’ll take engineering-themed building blocks over Barbies or mindless videogames any day of the week. ()

  Breaking Bad  
The Redemption of Walter White
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched the Breaking Bad finale, and if no one has spoiled it for you yet, you might want to bookmark this article and come back later

Count me among those eager to see Walt get his in the end. His just deserts, his comeuppance—to reap what he had sowed. Breaking Bad gave us just the opposite. ()

Violence and Tragedy in Literature
A few months back, I was reading Light in August. One of my friends saw it, and started a conversation by asking me if I actually liked Faulkner.

Well, yes. I think so. I don't know.

Should I?

Well, hm.

Zero Recognition for Zero Dark Thirty
After Sunday’s broadcast of the Academy Awards, many noticed the Oscars’ silence in response to this year’s film directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty. Jessica Chastain, whose performance was thought by many to be awarded Best Actress, lost to Jennifer Lawrence of Silver Linings Playbook. ()

The Real Housewives of Downton Abbey
There is a very strange phenomenon that has taken root among today’s educated women: we love garbage television. The Real Housewives. Desperate Housewives. The Bachelor. Teen Mom. Jersey Shore. Gossip Girl. Oh, my!


Hope and Suicide: Finding Faith in Robert Bresson’s “Mouchette”
Many Catholics know French director Robert Bresson for his 1951 film adaptation of Georges Bernanos’ novel Diary of a Country Priest. But Bresson also adapted Georges Bernanos’ lesser-known Nouvelle histoire de Mouchette, about a young French girl living in desperate conditions in a small village. “There is solidarity in good and solidarity in evil,” says Bresson on the 1967 set of Mouchette. “For this film, I chose to focus solely on the solidarity of evil.” ()

  The Bachelorette  
Religion and Reality TV
Why is there no religion on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette? This is one of the great questions of our time (clearly!). I do watch these programs, I’ll admit. It is one of my life’s guiltiest pleasures. I am one of those people who often boasts about not owning a television and then secretly binges once a week on the most banal television viewing known to man . . . on my computer. I am also a vegetarian with the exception of bacon. Hey, lay off. The Bachelor Pad has been a salve in a hectic and harried summer. On Tuesday nights, I like to curl up on my couch, pull up Hulu and: TURN BRAIN OFF. Don’t judge! ()

  Gender Equality  
Men, Women, and the Olympics
Have you seen the Americans' uniforms for the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, designed by Ralph Lauren? The uniforms harken back to an era when fashion acknowledged gender difference. Lauren’s uniforms do not turn the athlete into an androgynous figure but rather call to mind the dignity and strength of the athletes, while still flattering the uniqueness and individuality of both the male and female figure. It brings to mind how the Olympics continue to be an example of how men and women are different, while equal in dignity and potential. ()

  Good Web Reads  
Mormon Mommy Blogs and the Quest for Peace
I recently had one of those weeks. You know what type of week I’m talking about—with too much on the to-do list and every other task seeming to go not quite right. Deadlines were looming and inspiration was lacking. I’d been working long hours nearly every day for at least the past eight days. In short, I was tired and crabby. Somewhere in between projects and meetings, I found myself with ten minutes of free time. With not enough time to start a new task and the desire to save whatever “thinking power” I had left in my tired brain, I aimlessly wandered to one of my favorite blogs. ()

Celebrating a New Women’s Magazine
Altcatholicah is delighted by the recent launch of the new magazine for women, Verily. In a world where magazine racks offer women little more than degrading sex advice or objecting images of female bodies, Verily is a welcome alternative. Check out the teaser issue here. Read coverage of the new mag in the Huffington Post here. Subscribe here. Topics cover fashion, relationships, lifestyle, and culture. All the glam. None of the garbage. Brava.


  Holy Week  
Music for Lent
I don’t hear people getting all giddy about being able to crank up their Lenten music, the way they did with Christmas songs when it was Christmas time (or mid-October, whatever). That’s a shame, though—Lent is a wonderful reason to really wallow in some gorgeous harmonies that just don’t sound right any other time of year. And no, the terminally lame and casually heretical “Ashes” theme song (I can’t bring myself to call it a hymn) doesn’t count. ()

A Nun for All Seasons
When I was staying at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut, the story of Mother Dolores Hart was always a source of inspiration and awe for the almost daily wave of new guests. Her celebrity status and the screenplay story of her life as the Hollywood-beauty-turned-Benedictine-nun enchanted people, so much so that she is the subject of a forthcoming HBO documentary, God is the Bigger Elvis. Though it will not air until April, the documentary was nominated for an Oscar. ()

  Women in Film and Television  
A Woman Named Catherine
I came home from work one evening to find my roommate watching the 1950s Technicolor movie, A Man Called Peter. The film follows the true story of a Scottish Presbyterian minister, Peter Marshall, who wants only to roam the seas, but finds himself called by God to preach in the United States. He ends up preaching at the Church of the Presidents in the heart of Washington, D.C., during World War II. ()

  Female Sexuality in Literature  
On Sex In Lonesome Dove
In Lonesome Dove, several of the women are whores. Which doesn’t mean that they are bad people. Indeed, the book is a remarkable story that illustrates an idea of what Jesus meant when he told the Jewish leaders that “prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before you.” Nonetheless, I have a bone to pick with the author, Larry McMurtry. ()

Dear Cindy in Blue Valentine
So, hey, you’re pregnant. And it’s not welcome news, because you’re in college and hope to go to medical school.

You’re not sure if the champion sperm belongs to the scruffy-cute ukelele player or the a--hole college wrestler. (But you kind of know it’s the wrestler.) Neither is exactly well-positioned for fatherhood. ()

  Joan of Arc  
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Celebrates Joan of Arc’s Big 6-0-0
Political symbol. Feminist role model. Mystic. Saint. Warrior.

Joan of Arc turns 600 this January, making her one of the oldest female heroines in Western history. The Maid of Orleans, a teenager who took to horseback to lead a weak and demoralized French army to defeat the English in seminal battles during the Hundred Years War, has symbolized strength and piety for centuries. She has been memorialized on stage, screen and canvas for her bold and heartbreaking tale. ()

  Why We Love Brideshead Revisited  
Book of Grace
Tomorrow marks the 108th anniversary of the birth of Evelyn Waugh. In the year since I’ve read his 1945 classic Brideshead Revisited, I am struck by the sheer number of times the book has come up in conversations. It has a seemingly universal appeal—to Catholics, non-Catholics, lapsed Catholics, and barely-hanging-on Catholics. ()

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