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Debra Rienstra

liturgical year

A Week of Saints

As I listened last night, I thought back over the week and reflected gratefully on the ordinary saints among whom I live. These are the saints who feel as if they are still feebly struggling, as if the darkness is still pretty drear. And yet,…
November 3, 2012

Introvert, Be Free!

But here is one of Quiet’s most important insights. Cain insists—quietly and persistently, in true introvert style—that these “problem” traits are only the flip side of strengths. Introverts tend to experience them as disadvantages or faults because we live in a culture that has thoroughly…
October 20, 2012
cultural commentary

Get Off My Lawn, Thou Knave

By an odd coincidence, the late William Hazlitt has been haunting my steps this week. The old gent showed up by previous arrangement in my creative nonfiction class, as the syllabus called for my students to read his essay titled “On the Pleasure of Hating.”
October 6, 2012
college lifecultural commentary

Cruise Ship College

Hundreds of majors, access to professors, research opportunities, really awesome sports, a zillion student organizations—everyone seems to have it all. Beautiful, diverse students and beautiful, historic (or perhaps LEEDS-certified) buildings on rolling, umpteen-hundred-acre campuses. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine that my son wouldn’t just thrive…
September 22, 2012

Woo Me With Facts

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the cause of good rhetoric: two national conventions with a wearying parade of over-fluffed speeches, the ensuing frenzy of talking-head analysis and petty push-back between the parties on every little point, and the ongoing plague of super-PAC-sponsored…
September 8, 2012

Here’s What’s Cookin’

If the kitchen was command central of her household, then these recipes, I realized, were the mission logs. What a jumble of memory among those 3×5 index cards! I planned to thumb through them just to make sure I retrieved any recipes I especially liked,…
August 11, 2012
cultural commentary


Well, with the summer Olympics under way, here we go again. How do we celebrate women athletes without sexualizing them? I’m not sure we’re much closer to answers than we were thirteen years ago.
July 27, 2012

Further Up and Further In

Naturally hearing about such experiences make us wonder what heaven might really be like. Of course there are cultural commonplaces featuring harps, clouds, white-robed angels, and St. Peter at the pearly gates. The Bible offers a few glimpses: a shining city, a fruit-bearing tree, white-robed…
July 14, 2012
liturgical yearspirituality

The Long Slog

Maybe we are kidding ourselves. That outburst of Spirit-energy we managed to whump up on Pentecost is tough to maintain, especially for your average, mild-mannered Reformed congregation. Maybe we should admit that what we’re really facing starting the Monday after Pentecost is ordinary time, the…
June 30, 2012