cultural commentary

Quintessence of Dust

Last night, thanks to the cleverness and curiosity of internet geeks, my husband and I were able to listen for about three hours to Boston police scanners—live-streamed over the internet—during the operation that captured the Boston bombing suspect. We knew, before it was broadcast on…
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April 20, 2013
liturgical year

The Problem with Palms

Let’s admit it: Palm Sunday is a problem. I know I shouldn’t be questioning a moment in the church calendar that goes all the way back to the third or fourth century, but why do I always vaguely dread this day?
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March 23, 2013
liturgical yearmemoirUncategorized

February Blahs

If for some reason you wish to study that peculiar state of human existence called “the blahs,” I suggest you begin in the third week of February in Michigan. It’s been winter for as long as we can remember here, and we still have a…
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February 23, 2013
liturgical yearspirituality

Thin Places

The Transfiguration story speaks to that part of us that longs for the mountain-top experience—for the epiphanic moment when, even for an instant, we perceive through the veil of clay to the numinous glory beyond. If only we could find a thin place, maybe we…
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February 9, 2013
cultural commentarypolitics

Doomed To Be a Taker

I really must apologize to the whole of society, since evidently I am a “taker.” I am a leech, a parasite, a moocher. This was certainly not my intention, but I missed some sort of memo and now I find myself in a category of…
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January 26, 2013
memoir

House Blessing

This week we had good news: a buyer for my parents’ home, after only thirty days on the market. A miracle. Mom signed the purchase agreement on Tuesday, and we’ll close by the end of the month. So now I must say good-bye to my…
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January 12, 2013
cultural commentary

Star of Wonder

The result of this for Chesterton was to see the whole world as astonishing, exactly because it might have been otherwise. Trees might have grown “tigers by the tail” instead of leaves. Eventually he gets to the idea that Someone made these choices about the…
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December 15, 2012
cultural commentary

Got a Book Idea? Good Luck with That!

After that, your career is simple. You concentrate on butt-to-chair, holing up in your chilly garret and tapping away at your laptop, producing brilliant profundity at regular intervals—and your publisher takes care of everything else. Editing, production, marketing, distribution, collecting the profits: don’t worry, dear…
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December 1, 2012
liturgical year

A Week of Saints

Last night St. Hildegard of Bingen visited Calvin College. She sang, accompanied by a plucked psaltery, or by a handheld harp, or by a fancy wooden box that she cranked to create an otherworldly drone. She told us that she was worried about people of…
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November 3, 2012
review

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…
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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.”
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October 6, 2012
politics

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…
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September 8, 2012
memoir

Here’s What’s Cookin’

I have recently become the reluctant chief curator of an entire houseful of my parents’ stuff. This summer, Mom and Dad moved into an assisted living facility, and now my brothers and I are faced with emptying the home they built and moved into almost…
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August 11, 2012
cultural commentary

Yes!

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.
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July 27, 2012