Welcome Sirius XM Listeners!

by Dan Lord on October 30, 2014

Thank you all for tuning in to my guest appearance on The Jennifer Fulwiler Show on Sirius XM! Since my site is currently going through some technical difficulties, I’m now going to put my whole creepy deliverance story up right here in one huge blog post (it was originally a three-part thing). Here we go…


edmund cropped“Resident Evil-How I Made Friends With the Devil” Part 1

The following events are true. The names have been changed for confidentiality’s sake.

Fr. Cornelius was a hobbit. He wasn’t as short as one, but in all other respects he might as well have been doing some freestyle karaoke at the Green Dragon with a mug of the Old Gaffer’s brew in his hand. The cloistered abbey over which he was pastor was his walled-in Shire in the center of an Orc-infested section of my home town where the only adventures were the kind undertook by prostitutes and crack dealers.

I had come to Fr. Cornelius because there was something wrong with me. Something bad. I had been discussing this ‘badness’ a week before with a friend of mine, in a conversation that—believe it or not—had started off lightly, just two guys drinking beer and chewing the fat in a local bar. After I had begun to share some details of the, ahem, ‘badness,’ he strongly recommended that I make an appointment with Fr. Cornelius.

I agreed, but with reservation—a part of me felt very, very stupid about it all, you see, and I will explain why eventually. Nevertheless, I bit the bullet and made the call. Now, here I was shaking hands with a big black-clad, white-collared hobbit in the shadow of an old abbey church on a positively freezing cold February morning.

Naturally, he chose a small, open air courtyard for our meeting on this positively freezing cold February morning. Why shouldn’t he? His vital organs were utterly safe from the frigid weather thanks to a thick gray sweater wrapped around an enormous round belly which I initially mistook for a stability ball strapped to his waist.

I took a seat across from him. He lit a cigarette. I thought about asking him if I could use the red hot tip of it to light my clothes on fire for the sake of some warmth, but I realized that it might seem excessive on our first meeting. Father started us off with a prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us and for Our Lady to be present. I forgot about the cold and told him what was troubling me.

I was uneasy at first, wringing my hands and unpacking my darkest secrets to a stranger. It was his ‘hobbitliness,’ drifting over the whole scene, that lifted the pressure: the sweet tobacco smoke wandering around our little table, his rumpled black and gray priest clothes, his tousled hair and beard*, the way he had to occasionally swish ashes and crumbs from the slopes of his bulbous belly. Best of all was his voice. It was sonorous and gentle, carrying content that was direct, reassuring, firm, incisive.

I explained to him how my spiritual growth had reached a rock ceiling, that no matter what I did I could not seem to grow any more in virtue or in my relationship with Christ. After eleven years, following a profound conversion experience, I was beginning to be bothered by that. Shouldn’t I be making more progress in this and that area of my life?

And, in case you’re wondering, I am not prone to taking my faith for granted or to reducing it to a bunch of hollow formulas. I’ve been blessed to just get, on an instinctive level, that being a Catholic is primarily a relationship with Jesus, one which requires my full participation, with no excuse for lukewarm rule-following and ritualism. So, for eleven years I had been participating, giving it all I had, warts and all. After all this time, though, I was now forced to admit that there remained an ugly, nebulous blockade inside me, past which I simply could not go.

I had no joy, I told Father. I had theological hope and the peace of Christ, no doubt, and I received consolation from that. But where was the Christian joy that was supposed to be a part of the whole package? It wasn’t there. What was there, in my heart, was a kind of terrorist cell of anger, lust and pride. I could not shed them. Later, I described the experience to a friend: like trying to do bench presses, fully capable of lifting the weight, yet having something attached to my arms, always dragging me down. I had begun to suspect why, though I hardly dared say it.

Father Cornelius suggested what the root of the problem might be even before I did. In fact, he seemed quite a bit surer of it then what he was letting on, demonstrating a peculiar grace he had been given especially for these kinds of meetings. He just knew stuff. About me. Without me telling him. Throughout our meetings he did this with a fair amount of frequency. He wasn’t mind-reading, though. As he explained to me later, God simply revealed things to him about the person he was interviewing in order to facilitate the healing process.

My life had suddenly become an M. Night Shyamalan movie.

So, I’m sure you’re ready to punch me now. What was the ‘badness’ I had come to Father Cornelius to discuss? What was the reason for the darkness and the impenetrable vice in me which I felt ought to have melted before the power of Christ a long time ago?

Father C. worked with me to create a simple list, on a plain piece of lined paper, of things I had done in my past which were in any way associated with the occult. I was stumped, at first. Not much, Father—maybe a Ouija board, once or twice? Magic 8-Ball? Getting drunk in a graveyard, does that count?

But then a strange thing happened. The more we talked, the longer and longer the list got. And longer. Filled with all kinds of weirdo perversions and aberrant activities which I had been a party to in my more libertine years. Father Cornelius, using his Super Rad Miracle Priest Powers, told me some of them himself: crap I had totally forgotten. Yet apparently, as a result, I had become infected with an intelligent, evil spiritual presence.

That’s right, kids. Demons.

Cue ominous theme music.

End Part 1. 

*(yes, nerds, I know: hobbits don’t have beards. Cut me some slack, will ya?)


shadow“Resident Evil-How I Made Friends With the Devil” Part 2

The following events are true. The names have been changed for confidentiality’s sake.

Well, I couldn’t deny it anymore. There was an actual evil presence attached to me.

I had several reactions. Revulsion was an initial one.

I was also indignant: how did I end up with demons? Some guys get poison oak; some guys get crabs. Not me, though. Nope. I got demons.

The answer lay in that list of all my occult-related activities, fastidiously compiled by Father Cornelius and me. It was still just a single piece of paper, but now it was completely covered back and front with Father C.’s rather unattractive scrawl. Ominous phrases twisted around the margins and coiled in the corners.

I was exhausted, in a way that was different than normal fatigue; a spiritual exhaustion. I had trudged a long, painful way in revealing to Father C. all the junk that made up the items on that list. I saved the worst for last…in fact, I honestly didn’t remember the worst until later in the interview process.

I won’t curl your hair with the details, but I do want to stress one thing, in particular: none of the activities were conscious, purposeful appeals to evil spirits. And guess what? They don’t have to be! Boing! “I was just playing around” didn’t get me off the hook. Evil actions produce evil consequences regardless of how I feel about it. Isn’t it insidious how relativism has sunk into our modern brains so deeply that we don’t even realize it? I just unconsciously figured that evil actions were only evil if I assigned an evil value to them. As long as I didn’t don a black hooded robe and pin a dead housepet to a pentagram at the stroke of midnight then everything else was pretty much up for grabs.

For instance: why not acquiesce to my hip, pseudo intellectual girlfriend’s pagan ritual dabblings involving human blood? I’m so into new experiences, and there’s just heaps of exotic, viscerally appealing elements to a pagan blood ritual. Consequences? Shmonsequences! After all, I am not really participating—not like that. What am I, some druid who seriously wants to invoke the power of spiritual entities? Hah! And if a guy like me does not accept that there will be those kinds of consequences then there won’t be any, right? Right?


My God, my God, how many idiots like me have tripped through life in this twisted age of ours thinking this way, unwittingly inviting every stinking shade from the bottom-most drawers of Hell to come put their clawed feet up on the couches of their souls and make themselves at home? I had come back to the Church, thank God, but all of those loathsome spirits for which I had thrown open my doors had just as much a legal right to be where they were as they had before my conversion. (And please don’t be put off by my use of the word ‘legal’ here—it is quite applicable. Giving consent to a thing is binding on the spiritual plane as well as the terrestrial plane.) My actions had spiritual consequences, and those consequences were not just going to politely leave. They had to be dealt with.

It explained so much. My wife was well acquainted with the demonic attacks I had been enduring for as long as she had known me. Sleepless nights; waking up swiping at shadowy spiders and bats, seeing dark figures in the room with me; uncontrollable rages.

It should have been an immense relief knowing the cause of all of this weirdness—and there was some. But there was also a huge weight of demoralization. It felt as if everything I’ve been trying to do with my life for the past decade—getting back on track, going to Mass, developing virtue, embracing fatherhood—it all seemed like a big sham now. I was a failure.

Truth to tell, it was peeling back the cover of a psycho-spiritual disease which I had been carrying around a long time, which I shall now dub the Epic Loser Syndrome.

I have all the time in the world, Mr. Lord! All the time in the woooorrrrrlllld...

I have all the time in the world, Mr. Lord! All the time in the woooorrrrrlllld…

Let me explain. There is a reason that the Devil is sometimes called “the Accuser.” It is kind of like his self-appointed job to stand over you and insistently shout (and, for some reason, I see Satan played by Will Ferrell when I picture this): “Heaven? You want to go to Heaven?!? Who do you think you are? You’re a Sinner! Your sins are HUGE…GIGANTIC…you’re the worst, most unworthy screw-up since Judas! I got news for you, chief: you can hang up your gloves now ‘cuz this fight is OVER…” And so on.

And, without fully realizing it, I had embraced this accusation. I had become convinced a long time before that my sins and I were completely synonymous, and that I was unlovable as a result. I believed that God was indeed the merciful God of the Gospels—I just didn’t really accept that his mercy applied to me. It is as if I was a murderer on death row who was being offered a full pardon by the President, a pardon which I refused to accept. I got my children to Mass, I was raising them to love Jesus and Mary, I faithfully served my wife and my family…I owed them that, you see, and I owed Jesus that, and it was the right, noble thing for a man to do. But inside I would always remain an unworthy heap of excrement, a man-shaped pile of sins.

Thank God for Father Cornelius. He somehow picked up on my self-loathing and he gently chided me for it all.

“You are not your sin,” he said, to which I responded by staring down at the ground.

“Look at me, Dan. You are not your sin. You are a child of God, made in His Image!”

Father kept drilling that into my head: I am, in essence, good. As a baptized Christian I am an adopted Son of God. It is an essential reality which no amount of filth and lousy behavior can change, and therefore a destiny, if I may use that term. It was time for me to stand up and take hold of that destiny. It was mine, after all—God gave it to me, and all of Hell couldn’t take it away. Accepting this fact was the psychological antidote to the Epic Loser Syndrome.

But this wasn’t therapy. As I noted before, the evil spirits had a valid legal spiritual claim on me. I had invited them. The only way to kick them out was to call upon the One Person who had the power to shred all such claims and pay the fees out of His own immeasurable pocket. That meant carrying this dispute into an ancient spiritual coliseum for a Throw Down of major proportions—not major because there was any concern about who, between Jesus and the Devil, was the stronger, but because I was still not sure about me. It was going to get worse before it would get better, after all, plus Father Cornelius could not really be sure how powerful or how deeply embedded my satanic stowaways were until we got into the thick of things. Would I have the guts to see it through?

End Part 2.


dark trees“Resident Evil-How I Made Friends With the Devil” Part 3

The following events are true. The names have been changed for confidentiality’s sake.

I didn’t know that it was Exorcism Time, when it came. Father Cornelius was kind of sneaky about it. I was sitting obliviously in a chair, waiting for him to get back from what I had assumed was a visit to the toilet, when in he walked carrying a huge gold monstrance with a smooth round Host in it. He lit some candles and, as casually as he could, he dragged a gargantuan white binder full of exorcism rituals across the coffee table. There would be no snack break today.

To his credit, he put and kept me completely at ease. A hodgepodge of soft yellows and browns, his office was the comforting hobbit-hole I would have expected, filled with well-worn easy chairs and dog-eared books. A pleasing smell of cigarette smoke hovered around the drapes and the upholstery. His voice, as usual, was the auditory equivalent of warm tomato soup.

I officially confessed to all the horrible sinful activity on my Big Stupid List of Things No One Should Ever Do. After my absolution, I formally asked him to submit me to the Catholic Church’s rite of exorcism.

boxerIn some alternate universe, I’m sure, the sound of a bell signaled the start of Round 1.

Father began a long litany of prayers. One calm phrase after another, humbly asking God to purify me of every conceivable stain of evil. No aspect of my soul, mind or physiology was left unmentioned. I just sat in my chair and concentrated as well as I could while his warm soup voice rolled out each verse.

Then something subtle but unmistakable happened to the room. The tone of the colors shifted from wholesome and agreeable to morbid and dirty. As Father C.’s prayers continued, I began to move my hands up to my face. To an observer, it was only the unthinking motion of any man sitting for too long in the same place, no different than stretching, scratching your arm, or popping your knuckles. But it was different. It was my first experience of what I had previously only read about in books or seen in movies, the experience of having your body controlled from the inside by a will other than your own. My hands slowly covered my face, and my eyes stared wildly out between the fingers. What was in me was terrified, like a feral cat trying to stay hidden.

Father C. reached the end of that phase of the ritual. My hands slid away from my face and I could hear him gently asking how I was feeling. I said something vague, like “good…pretty good…” but the words weren’t really representative of anything.

Round 2. Father explained that the next part of the ritual would involve an invocation of each Person of the Holy Trinity. I was now expected to participate. I assumed a kneeling position, and Father moved the huge binder near me so I could read the prayers. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like: “I love the Father, the First Person of the Most Holy Trinity, and I desire to be with Him forever. I love the Son, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, and I desire to be with Him forever. I love the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, and I desire to be with Him forever.” Again: that isn’t the exact formulation, so to all you professional exorcists out there I apologize if I’m off script a little. The point is: it was a short profession of love and devotion to God, so easy a child could say it, right?

Father said the first verse, and I repeated it. No problem.

Father read the second verse, and I repeated it. Man, this was easy! Exorcisms aren’t so bad, after all!

Father read the third verse: “I love the Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Holy Trinity…” Now my turn, right? O.K. no problem, here we go: “I lo..I..I lll…lllll…” I paused; took a breath. “I love the H..the H….”

The knuckles of my clasped fingers had gone white.

“Father,” I murmured, almost with embarrassment, “I can’t read that.”

Father reassured me. “It’s O.K. You can read it.”

I turned away from the binder.

“Just try,” said Father. He read the line again, and I tried to repeat it, but couldn’t. Father kept up his gentle encouragements, and I continued trying to say the words of the ritual. I was suddenly aware that my stomach had knotted up, not like nausea, but like a fist was pushing into my gut.

Somehow, at some point, I said that third prayer of love to the Holy Spirit. I got it out. I was in a state of anxiety now, because there was no doubt that there were creatures in me who were absolutely opposed to my intentions.

Round 3. Father moved on to the next phase, but I had blanked out a little. He had to tell me to get back in the chair. I did, but the fist was still crushing my stomach. Father asked how I was feeling, but I was distracted and all I could say was “hot…burning hot…” That was true. It had come upon me all of a sudden, and I pulled off my jacket and dropped it on the floor. I felt sick and feverish.

Father was not strictly following the pages in the binder anymore, but adjusting his methods to fit the behavior of the evil spirits at that moment. I won’t pretend to understand it all. There was plenty of extemporaneous prayer to Christ, and some archaic-sounding Hebrew recitations, some Latin, too…I was a little out of it, so I could only dimly appreciate it all at the time. In retrospect it was spiritual Mortal Combat.

Things came back into focus when Father turned to me with a crucifix. It was larger than average, like something from a school room or…hey!…a priest’s office. Father’s voice was still warm soup, and he said, “O.K. now Dan, what I would like you to do now is just kiss the Holy Cross, alright?”

Well, Dan Lord has no problem kissing the Holy Cross. In fact, I keep a small pewter crucifix on my desk and I was in the habit of kissing the little silvery feet of the Corpus every day. Just the day before I had kissed that crucifix. But now, as Father presented the Holy Cross to me I turned away and said bluntly: “It’s not working.”

Father asked me to kiss the crucifix again.

“It’s not working.”

It was my voice, people—there was no demonic howling, no trippy vocal effects. My voice. But not me.

Father firmly, but calmly, in the name of Christ, demanded to know the identity of this spirit.

“It’s quiet.”

Father asked again, perhaps thinking this answer was an evasion, but he got the same answer: “It’s quiet.”

Ladies and gentleman, I simply cannot adequately explain just how colossally wacko it is to hear words coming out of your mouth that you yourself did not formulate or intend. Father now realized that this particular spirit was obeying Christ with its answer—it’s basic nature was quiet—like the quiet of a black widow, or of a serial killer in a dark cell. I had invited him in years before by taking an Oath of Silence in jest. It was an absurd, anarchical act that I thought was frightfully clever at the time, intended to piss off people around me. I made a solemn show of it, took the Oath, and refused to say a word for about two weeks, then got bored and gave up on it. But the spirit didn’t leave, see?

Don’t take oaths casually, my friends. Remember in A Man For All Seasons when St. Thomas More’s beloved daughter, Margaret, is trying to convince him to take the king’s fiendish new oath of allegiance? “Say the words of the oath,” she pleads, “and in your heart think otherwise.”

Her dad knew better, though. “An oath is made of words!” he tells her. “When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his hands.” Actions have consequences, whether you mean for them to or not. Be careful what you swear to.

In Christ’s name, the Spirit of Quiet was cast out. I could hear Father Cornelius making strained sounds, and I learned later that the exorcism caused him bodily pain—not uncommon, I’m told.

Mr. Quiet was not alone, though. Turns out I had a little poker table full of evil spirits. Father identified the next one as Wild Man Spirit—I had been accompanied by it since high school. It was a fierce, chaotic devil that helped me to gain the status of Craziest Guy At the Party, and, boy, was he present in my antics as frontman for my band, Pain–for instance, I used to hurl my body to the stage floor repeatedly during the last measures of one of our songs. People loved that, but even without the cheering the blood and bruises gave me a thrill.

Wild Man still wasn’t the worst, though. As I sat in a kind of upright paralyzed position in my chair I could hear Father relentlessly praying. He was also seeing things—don’t ask me to explain it; I don’t know if he was having interior visions or if he saw horned ghouls swirling around the office. I just don’t know. But right then he “saw” another member of my infernal poker club. He said its name: “Pan.”

You’re thinking the same thing I was, right? Pan? The cute little goat-legged guy from Fantasia? I don’t get it, either. All I know is that there was an utter pall of evil over the room now, and Father said: “I’m looking at it right now.” He was staring over my shoulder at the time, and I was not ABOUT to turn around. Father chanted intensely in Hebrew, and then in Christ’s name he cast Pan out. Asmodeus was next–he was from my days with the hip pseudo intellectual pagan girl. Baal was cast out after that. There were others, too, but I don’t remember their names.

The whole thing took a total of about four hours. My temperature dropped back to normal, my stomach unclenched, and the room once again became a snug, pleasant hobbit’s office. Though, to be fair, if we’re going to stick with the Tolkien metaphors, Father Cornelius strikes me a little less as a hobbit now and more like the White Wizard himself.

I drove home, sporadically breaking into tears. Do you know what I felt? I felt free. That’s what I kept saying to myself: I’m free. And I was. I am. That doesn’t mean I am now a living, walking saint, of course—the great battle of Christian discipleship goes right on until death. At last, though, that feeling of trying to do bench presses with invisible weights on my arms is now totally gone. I’m free!

But some caution is in order here. Father Cornelius himself repeated the warning to me more than once. Although the spirits are out, I have to be careful for the rest of my life not to get mixed up in any activity that would effectively invite them back in, because if they come back and find their previous home “swept clean and put in order” it will be much, much worse for me than before. Check out Luke 11:24-26 to see what I mean.

Anyway, I’m free. For the first few weeks after my liberation my wife stayed in a state of delighted shock over the changes she could see in me. I am no longer hectored by shadowy chimeras at night; I used to respond to things with ridiculous over-the-top explosions of Incredible Hulk-style wrath, but not anymore; I sleep peacefully at night. I can say with genuine humility that I can finally see myself advancing in Christian virtue.

“Too long have you sat in shadows and trusted to twisted tales and crooked promptings,” said Gandalf to Theoden in The Two Towers. “Breathe the free air again!”


broken table 5



There are so many exciting things to report on my new novel, By the Downward Way, that it threatens the atomic integrity of your computer/device screen!

First! BtDW (that’s short for ‘By the Downward Way’, natch) is now available for your e-readers!

Kindle users, go here!

Nook users, go here!

IBook users, just open ITunes, go to ‘Books’, and search for By the Downward Way.

Second! The very first reader review of BtDW is in:

“This book is like the best of Tolkien crossed with a great Dean Koontz thriller. Dan Lord’s incredible imagination and ability to convey intricate thoughts with just the right words will transport you.”

Nice, eh? And, finally, here’s a little excerpt of the book, so you can dig on the vibe and all:

Chapter Five

A thin rain fell on the cemetery. The night bleached itself to a wet, chalky glow as Leo moved digging tools from the trunk of his car. His breathing came in gauzy curls of steam. A single bird from some hidden perch made an inquisitive caw, but it had no fellows willing to respond at such a dismal hour in such a cold, abandoned place.

Leo took a drink of hot, black coffee from a dark blue thermos, listening to the raindrops lightly pummeling the hood of his green North Face coat. The silver-bladed centenarian shovel taken from the den, along with spades and crowbars from the tool house, grew dark and damp beside the gravestone of Nicholas of Hamelin. Leo turned to his right and left, half-expecting to see the gray-green phantom watching him with its black eyes. He saw nothing, but he knew with a nauseous feeling that he was not alone.

He pulled on thick brown gloves, grabbed the shovel, and began digging.

Before three hours had passed he was clearing dirt from the top of a coffin. There were wood straps across it stamped with the date “1642,” the year that the coffin had been relocated to America from its original spot outside of Rome. The crowbar split the wood straps easily. The coffin itself was Roman marble, its once polished surface now an ugly gray and black. The lid was fixed with stone pegs.

The rain had stopped. Leo pulled his hood back and the heat that rose from his sweaty scalp became a faint vapor in the icy air. Black dirt was smeared down one side of his face.

He suddenly wanted to stop everything he was doing. He wanted to go home, take a hot shower, put on fresh clothes, and drive away, far away from his home and from his past and go to a secluded beach somewhere. The notion lasted only a few seconds before he made a scoffing sound at it and shook his head. Right…a magic beach that exists inside a curse-proof bio-dome somewhere, where dads don’t commit suicide or lose their minds or abandon their kids to go join the circus or whatever. There was no running away anymore. If there was any path to a normal life, it was down here in the dirt, where the rot was, where the lost memory of some rupture with peace and sanity was waiting. He fit the edge of the crowbar under the coffin lid beside one stone peg and began to push it loose.

The lid submitted to Leo’s crowbar with a muted crunch, breaking like dry bread into three long pieces. As they were shoved back, the gray light of the drizzly morning penetrated the stale darkness underneath. Right away Leo saw the bones: the ribs pointing like long, brittle fingers; the thicker segments of leg; the leering, brown rows of teeth. Leo’s heart seemed to hang inside his chest by an executioner’s noose at the sight of death’s awful consequence sprawled before him, naked in its marble cell.

But it was a dull-edged fear he experienced, a featureless revulsion not much different than the emotions caused by a foul smell or a badly told joke. It was not until he pushed the lid completely away and he saw the entire contents of the coffin that he felt a true jolt.


There you go, folks! Pick up a copy of By the Downward Way when and if you can, and now I’m going to leave you all alone for a while before you go crazy from reading all this self-promotion. Have a good day!


By the Downward Way For Sale Now!

by Dan Lord on September 15, 2014

It’s time, people! The print version is available right now. The e-book version, if you’re That Kind of Person, will be available in about a week. I’ll keep you posted!

And, in case you haven’t watched it yet, here’s the Book Trailer!


The New Book Trailer for By the Downward Way!

August 14, 2014

Feast your eyes and ears on THIS, all you wonderful TSOW readers! By the Downward Way will be available early September. It’s almost here!  Please spread the word, if you’re so inclined. And THANK YOU to EVERYONE for all of your support and encouragement!

Read the full article →

Music and Books, Like Unto Peanut Butter and Jelly

August 4, 2014

Things go well with theme music: movies, sports events, movies about sports events, romantic dates, meals in restaurants, the Catholic Mass, and…believe it or not…books! You all may remember the book trailer music I wrote for my last tome, Choosing Joy. In fact, some of you have asked if I plan to make that catchy […]

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You’ll Feel A Little Better After You Watch This

July 31, 2014

Even if you were already feeling fine…you’ll feel a little better. And do NOT stop watching before the bass player demonstrates why he was hired to be the bass player for Reg Kehoe and his Marimba Queens.

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Do Stories Matter? A Summer Reading Appetizer

July 8, 2014

Once upon a time not very long ago the civilized world eagerly read excellent stories by Catholic writers. The stories were everything that great literature is: captivating, intelligent, poignant, universal, liberating, but also imbued with a deeply Catholic sensibility. The early and mid-twentieth century is the era I’m thinking of here. My personal list of […]

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