Luke Hill

Luke Hill is a writer and community organizer in Boston. He blogs at dotCommonweal and MassCommons. 

By this author

The Singing Nun Is Singing A New Song

Sr. Cristina Scucchia of the Sisters of the Holy Family rocked the house and wowed the judges on the Italian edition of "The Voice" with her cover of Alicia Keys' chart-topping 2007 hit, "No One".

(Check out the reactions of the judges, especially at 1:04.)

 

African Saints, African Stories

It's a bit late---but not too late!---to start a new book as part of one's Lenten observance.  If that's what you're looking for, Camille Lewis Brown's splendid little book, African Saints, African Stories: 40 Holy Men And Women would make an excellent choice.

The format of the book is simple and straightforward.  First Brown provides a short (1-6 pp.) biography of the saint's life.  Then she adds a brief passage from scripture, a prayer and questions for further reflection.  It's a wonderful format for Lenten prayer, but serves equally well at any time of year.  The book is divided into two sections:  "Saints, Blesseds and Venerables" and "Saints in Waiting".

African Saints, African Stories is a powerful reminder of the depth and breadth of the formative African influence on Christianity.  As Bishop Joseph Perry notes in his excellent foreword, "There is evidence of African contribution throughout Sacred Scripture. beginning with Genesis 2, where the sources of the Nile River are located, to the deacon Philip's baptism of the Ethiopian official in service to the Nubian queen, Candace, in Acts 8."  That influence continues with the witness and ministries of the early African saints:

24 Hours of Happy

Pharrell Williams is arguably the most influential producer in the American music industry.  He's also a talented and successful singer, rapper, songwriter and musician.

On first listen, his latest hit song, "Happy", is four minutes of pure pop confection---one written for the soundtrack of Universal Pictures' billion-dollar hit movie Despicable Me 2. 

The video is a sweet confection too:  shots of Pharrell and seemingly random Angelenos lip-synching and dancing around their city to the song.  (Because this is Los Angeles, it also includes celebrities like Kelly Osborne, Magic Johnson and Steve Carell.  Because there's a movie tie-in, it includes characters from Despicable Me 2.)

But "Happy" is much more than that, because there's "24 Hours of Happy".

Dream Baby Dream

"Dream Baby Dream" is a 1977 song by the more-influential-than-successful punk band, Suicide.  This new version by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band meets what I've come to think of as the First Rule of Cover Songs:  You've got to bring something new to it.

Built Chiefly by the Pennies of the Poor

If Pope Francis' words really are causing Cardinal Dolan, billionaire businessman Ken Langone, and others at the heart of the fundraising campaign to restore St. Patrick's Cathedral to lose out on "major gifts" by wealthy would-be benefactors, they can take some measure of comfort from the cathedral's original construction.

In his terrific 1997 book, American Catholic, Charles R. Morris uses the dedication of the still-unfinished cathedral on May 25, 1879 as his starting point for understanding the history of the US Catholic Church. 

Again I Say Rejoice

Israel Houghton’s exuberant “Again I Say Rejoice” seems appropriate for Gaudete Sunday.

Rejoice!

The Lord Is Blessing Me Right Now

It's one thing to hear "The Lord Is Blessing Me Right Now".  It's another to see it sung by the Hands of Praise Deaf Choir from Canaan Baptist Church in Flint, MI.

 

Christian Love In Action: Whitey Bulger Trial Edition

Yesterday, a parade of survivors made their way to the witness stand at the Moakley Federal Courthouse to deliver "victim impact statements" before convicted gangster and long-time fugitive Whitey Bulger is sentenced for crimes committed during his decades-long reign of terror in South Boston.

Veterans, Conscientious Objectors & Guns of Love

For those observing both Veterans' Day and the feast of St. Martin of Tours (patron saint of soldiers and of conscientious objectors), here's Maura O'Connell's rousing cover of "Guns of Love".

"With guns of love brought into battle, the nights will burn like never before;
Pride will fall and foundations rattle, when guns of love put an end to war.
"

Praying for Senators...Whether They Like It or Not

The Rev. Dr. Barry Black is a Baltimore native, Seventh-Day Adventist, retired Rear Admiral, former Chief of Chaplains for the US Navy and, since 2003, the first African-American to serve as chaplain to the US Senate.

By opening the Senate in prayer each day, he's one of the few people US senators have to listen to...and to whom they can't talk back.

A trim, erect, dapper and distinguished-looking man, Rev. Black is not happy about this government shutdown.