The first issue arrived in November. I remember being so excited, I brought it along to catechism class on a Wednesday afternoon. How I gazed at the beautiful older girl on the cover—perfect teeth, clear skin, gorgeous late-70s hair. I opened to the first page and… behold, the mystery.
Watson basically teaches Sherlock how to be in a human relationship, and unlike previous Sherlocks, this one slowly concedes that following a life philosophy other than “everyone must serve my genius” might actually be a wiser way to live.
There’s something irresistible and mesmerizing about Coates’s voice. I found Between the World and Me deeply compelling, partly because of Coates’s muscular, precise prose. He’s one of our finest essayists today, in the tradition of James Baldwin and others.
I wonder if that is the true definition of wilderness: places where we find ourselves unprepared and bewildered. No solution seems obvious or forthcoming. Sometimes we can’t even name the problems. We wander like those other wilderness-dwellers, the Israelites, disorganized and ill-equipped, chasing after some strange, divine smoke-and-fire. It’s easy to succumb to temptations. There are wild beasts.
The mood is oddly chipper considering we are about to play for a funeral. This is what we do at our church: when someone dies, a call goes out to all our regular musicians to play at the funeral. We don’t have praise teams, but I suppose, this afternoon, we are the lament team.
Dear Pious Petunia: How do I cope?
Miss P: I’ve been receiving many letters of late whose plaintive pleas boil down to that very question. Thank you for summing up the general mood so concisely. What with a cacophony of conflict and chaos in Washington, the looming gloom of global climate cataclysm, the tragic nexus of tax season and Lent…. Dear me.
We often do not know how to give grief and lament the space and time they require. However, painting, sculpture, music, dance and other forms can express unutterable emotion, create space for reflection, and provide healing. Art can help us do the “Holy Saturday” work of acknowledging the darkness, opening a space to respond with and beyond words.
Of all the good books I received as Christmas gifts this year, one has captured my heart: You Could Look It Up: The Reference Shelf from Ancient Babylon to Wikipedia (Bloomsbury, 2016). I realize it’s hard to imagine a geekier volume than a history of reference books.
Come amid the salt-crusted cars lined up at the light,
amid the clamor and bustle of commerce,
the grocery store cash drawer rings,
“There are two elements of the constitution, wrote Walter Bagehot in 1867, the efficient and the dignified. … The efficient has the power to make and execute policy, and is answerable to the electorate. … The dignified gives significance and legitimacy to the efficient, and is answerable only… to God.”