Molly Brigid McGrath

Written by Molly Brigid McGrath

Molly Flynn is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Assumption College in Massachusetts. She is co-editor, with Robert Anderson and Scott Lee, of Who Are We? Old, New, and Timeless Answers from Core Texts (UPA, 2011).

HomeArticles Posted by Molly Brigid McGrath
LaLa Land

Did you ever catch yourself dreaming, adrift in la-la land—only to wake up to your own, personal so-so city? A consoling (but sophistic) thought: The number of possible worlds is infinite, so there’s some possible you out there for whom your daydreamt world is actual. Isn’t it nice to know a parallel possible you get to really enjoy it? You…
Hacksaw Ridge

In war, sitting out protects one’s bodily safety. Sitting out of the morally messy struggles typical of adult human life protects one’s sense of superiority and innocence. Doing the good sometimes requires an odd courage: accepting the risk of getting the soul’s hands dirty. But how and how much to dirty one’s hands are difficult to discern.
Mel Gibson’s good but…
Manchester by the Sea

Every person undergoes traumatic experiences. Their quantity and quality vary, but once suffered, these experiences are incorporated into the person, usually invisibly to the rest of us. When they are not hidden enough, we may wish a person would just get over it already. Yet we marvel, when a person calmly reveals some past trauma, at the human ability seemingly…
Hail Caesar

Cultures show their substance by what they make easier and what they make more difficult. A true, illustrative story:
Me: “Hey, Siri, find me a Catholic Mass to go to.”
My phone: “I don’t know how to respond to that.”
Me: “Okay then, take me to a strip club.”
My phone: “Which strip club? Tap the one you want.”
Not for nothing are they called…

Final grades were due a few days ago, and for those of us who teach, grading season has just come to a close. With visions of student papers dancing in my head, I can’t keep from thinking, Rashomon is a perfect movie for our culture.
Liberal democracy inclines us against ethical judgment. Though some call it tolerance, a better name is…
Western Film

Tired of rants about how awful capitalism is? Here’s a fun trick: ask the people you’re discussing it with not to use the term “capitalism.” Politely suggest: since we seem to mean different things by it, let’s just say what we mean without using that one word. It might induce them to think, instead of grabbing pre-fab terms of abuse…
Captain Fantastic

Sure, as a teenager, I experimented a little—rock, but also blues, jazz, standards, alt country. Never pop—that cesspool of cheap, predictable noise shunned by all who take themselves seriously for taking music seriously.
It began as curiosity, an alienated feeling, the desire to understand. It became a temptation. The occasional trace of a melody would wriggle into my imagination. So what…

The X-Files at its best celebrates that “the truth is out there”—objective, weird, and always slipping from our complete grasp. At its worst, the show makes heroes out of cranks and confuses power for politics.Over the course of nine seasons and a miniseries now airing on FOX, the show portrays two FBI agents investigating bizarre events. The dour, imaginative Fox…

Grammar has consequences. My grade school still taught, in the 1980s, that words have gender; people have sex. For decades, grammar nerds have bristled at official forms asking whether their “gender” is male or female. It’s like being asked, “What’s your part of speech?”
Somewhere along the line “gender” became a polite substitute for “sex” (perhaps to reduce snickers from adolescent…