Good Friday

There are several spoilers in this review of The Hunger Games, and I’ll get them out of the way early. The film shows precious little hunger and no sense of game. It’s a terrible movie, but it grossed $68.25 million on its first Friday. So that’s where your teenage daughters were over the weekend—or what they told you. And that’s why film critics sometimes feel their own futility.  I know, or I have heard, that the series of books by Suzanne Collins, of which The Hunger Games was the first, have sold all over the world in amazing numbers since 2008.

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Andrew Sullivan, in his diligent and sentimental response to my complaint against him the other day, retreats immediately to the personal. “I have Irish blood and a Catholic conscience.” “There will be times in which the emotion of the moment will overwhelm me.” “Am I insensitive? At times, I’m sure I am.” “I’m a South Park devotee, for Pete’s sake.” What, precisely, does any of this extenuate? There will be times in which the emotion of the moment will overwhelm me, too--and those are the times in which I will choose not to write.

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Many religions practice self-flagellation rituals. Even today. Catholics in Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, the Philippines, and ultramontane Roman Catholics of the Opus Dei conviction flagellate themselves on Good Friday in fraternity with the suffering of Jesus. Among Sunnis, it is forbidden. Not so among the Shi'a, where there is no actual uniformity of belief and certainly not in practice.

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The Letters of Samuel Beckett, 1929-1940 Edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck (Cambridge University Press, 782 pp., $50)   I. If Samuel Beckett was a recluse, as most of the world liked to think, then he was surely the most garrulous recluse ever. He had a wide circle of friends, many of them close, and a very much wider circle of acquaintances, especially after he began to work in the theater, which he did partly, as he said, to escape the tyranny of prose, but also, as he did not say, for company.

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Final Curtain

Easter Sunday at St. Peter's Square ought to be one of those perfect collisions of time and place, like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Thanksgiving in New England. But this year, I happen to be living in Rome during the strangest Easter in memory, when the Pope's mysterious illness completely overshadows even the elaborate pageantry of Holy Week. And so, on Easter Sunday morning, I found myself anxiously standing in front of St.

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