A World Still Stirred

While prints made from woodcuts and engravings may not offer the immediate thrill of gigantic oil paintings, they do display curious combinations of grotesquerie and piety and, to the patient observer, a fascinating glimpse into the Reformation moment.
September 9, 2017
cultural commentaryreview

Any Tenderness?

The show’s title makes it sound like one of those silly British slapstick comedies, but no. I would describe it as an historical drama with a loving heart. It has the same historical-immersion appeal as Mad Men, except with wholesome values, lots of babies, and…
August 26, 2017

To Love Michigan in Summer

Sumac and scrubby grass, dense-leaved oaks and maples, jumbles of every possible green. Blue spruce, Douglas fir, white pines, red pines, the astonishing symmetry of jack pine trunks in a sudden stand. Dead trees like skeletons rising from swamps. Everything stubby and scruffy and sassafrassy.
July 1, 2017

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…
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…
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…
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.
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.
April 7, 2017

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…
March 10, 2017

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…
February 24, 2017

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…
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…
December 17, 2016

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…
November 25, 2016