review

Return of the Warrior Maiden: A Review Essay

Played by the splendid Gal Gadot, this Wonder Woman is fit, fleet, and fabulous. From a movie-making point of view, though, that was the easy part. What sets this movie apart in its genre is a fresh, thoughtful character arc, one that perhaps only a…
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June 17, 2017
college life

Salvete Omnes: Commencement Best Practices

Meanwhile, Harvard holds their commencement exercises outdoors, rain or shine. This year, there was no shine. So 32,000 damp people negotiated regalia, umbrellas, and uncomfortable folding chairs. My husband and I, in a stroke of boldness and foresight, figured out how to watch via livestream…
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June 2, 2017
cultural commentary

Bonne Bell Takes Me Back

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…
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May 5, 2017
cultural commentary

Dark Vocation

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.
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April 21, 2017
cultural commentary

Lectures: A Triptych

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.
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April 7, 2017
spiritualityUncategorized

Bewildered in the Wilderness

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…
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March 10, 2017
spirituality

Notes from the Lament Team

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…
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February 24, 2017
review

The Call of the Library

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…
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January 13, 2017
cultural commentarypolitics

Quid Est Potentia?

“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…
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December 17, 2016
review

Patience with the Puzzles

That is not what I got with Arrival. Instead, this film, directed by Denis Villeneuve, manages to be riveting and meditative at once. Rather than marching us through a briskly paced action thriller, Villeneuve invites us to dwell in the mysteries of language, time, and…
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November 25, 2016
politics

Speak What We Feel

I’m grieving. Not because I have policy disagreements with the winner. Not because the lady didn’t win. Those things matter, but it’s so much bigger than that. I’m grieving because a person who rode to power on a calculated surge of hatred and bigotry, who…
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November 12, 2016
politics

Too Late

Last Friday, when the Trump video hit the news like a meteorite, my spouse spent the day watching the reaction in the news media and Twitterverse and reporting back to me every hour. By evening, we were floating on waves of Schadenfreude, wickedly enjoying the…
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October 14, 2016
cultural commentary

I’ll Take Less Choice Please

Blue Apron is a relatively new service (started in 2012) that supplies meal kits—pre-portioned ingredients and recipes—shipped in a box right to your door. Yesterday I came home to a box waiting for me on the front stoop. I opened it up to find, packed…
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September 17, 2016
silly

The Pitter Patter of …. Oh That’s Just Disgusting

Then we realized, as we hiked deeper in, that caterpillars were everywhere. On the leaves, on the trail, even hanging over the trail from little silken threads. They were writhing in large moving groups on branches crossing the trail. They were congregating slimily on certain…
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September 3, 2016