There are some places in our world so evil, that the very ground you walk upon can drain you of hope. Places where cruelty is the norm, where persons are transformed into numbers, and where good people say nothing.
Auschwitz-Birkenau is one of those places. While the deceptive grass now hides the crimes committed in the name of the nation, you don’t have to dig too deep before you find the ashes. Continue reading →
One of the most remarkable features of Girls Fall Down is the way in which Maggie Helwig has managed to write the city of Toronto into existence. The well-documented Canadian obsession with place is in full bloom in this novel, but the Toronto Helwig creates is not Michael Ondaatje’s Toronto (which is fundamentally a place of rebirth), nor is it Robertson Davies’ Toronto in The Cunning Man, which is thoroughly colonial. Helwig’s Toronto is a place haunted at once by profound loneliness and an almost terrifying sense of connection. Much of the novel’s beauty is derived from how totally the author embraces this paradox; its genius, however, lies in the unflinching way in which Helwig uses the city to investigate the individual and the individual to interrogate the city. Continue reading →
Review: Maggie Helwig Girls Fall Down
Toronto: Coach House Books, 2008, 266 pages.
Bodies rushing along at breakneck speeds through underground tunnels; impersonal and unattached they come and go in steady even streams. As if they formed a sort of modern analogy of Epicurean materialism, bodies raining down evenly through the plumbless void. What could cause them to break their eternal movement of incessant isolation? What could cause this solitary congregation to turn its attention outwards? Continue reading →
We were blessed back in fall 2011 to have Maggie Helwig, an activist, curate, and extraordinary woman of letters, post some poetry on Catholic Commons. As her most recent novel, Girls Fall Down, has started to make serious waves, we thought it would be worthwhile to host an online Symposium to discuss the novel and its many points of intersection with theology, politics, and social theory. Over the next two weeks we will post a number of pieces that deal specifically with various aspects of this novel, and will round it off with an interview with the author herself. We hope it proves edifying, and more to the point we hope it motivates some of you to purchase the novel and read it for yourselves.
A review of Frank Anthony Spina’s The Faith of the Outsider: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Biblical Story, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing Co., 2005, 206 pages.
It is expected that on June 29th, Bill C-31, the so called Protecting Canada’s Immigration Act, will be signed into law, paving the way for the deportation of those it designates as unwanted outsiders, including victims of persecution and torture. As Mary Jo Leddy, theologian and founder of Romero House claims, “this may very well become the civil rights issue of our times.” If Leddy is correct, it follows that no theological theme could be more important for churches in Canada to reflect upon then the relation between the insider and the outside in the biblical witness. Thankfully, Frank Anthony Spina’s book, The Faith of the Outsider: Exclusion and Inclusion in the Biblical Story, does just that. Continue reading →