Franzen has turned his considerable novelistic talents to a kind of inquisitorial examination of the American ideal of freedom. He shows how freedom is negatively construed—focused on what we are free from and not on what freedom might be for, what worthy ends it might be used to pursue.
Their stories are too little told—the stories of U.S. servicemen and women of devout religious faith who, often at great cost, stood up to protest the use of torture in the American open-ended war on terror.
This summer I reread Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison in Fortress Press's extraordinary new edition of his collected works. Letters and Papers
remains almost endlessly suggestive and stimulating theologically. But
in this reading I noticed how often the imprisoned Lutheran pastor
The 1950s and 1960s are often cited as the golden age of television. Those were the days when comedians such as Groucho Marx and writers such as Rod Serling worked in the business. That era produced many programs that still bear rewatching (The Dick Van Dyke Show, for one, and I say this not just because I had a boyhood crush on Mary Tyler Moore).
Adam is . . . scattered throughout the globe. Set in one place, he fell and, as it were, broken small, he has filled the whole world. But the Divine Mercy gathered up the fragments from every side, forged them in the fire of love and welded into one what had been broken. . . .
The earliest occurrence of what church historians call a jeremiad happened before there was a United States. In 1670, only 50 years after the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Reverend Samuel Danforth offered a harsh assessment of the colonists’ “errand into the wilderness.”
Apparently insomnia is a family trait. My mother often lies awake at night. Her father (my grandfather) was a man of immense energy who routinely read until 1 or 2 a.m.I recall lying awake as a child, listening to murmurs of the television shows my parents were watching. As an adult I developed the sometime and uneasy rhythm of one night of wakefulness until 3 or 4 in the morning, followed by a night of a full eight hours’ sleep. I decided long ago not to lie awake in the dark. Instead I read or listen to music.
When my daughter became a teenager, she was invited to serve as an acolyte at our Episcopal church. I thought it would be a wonderful thing to do with her. With her permission, I became an acolyte too—in my mid-forties.
Hardly a day passes without someone declaring the death of the book. Recently Lisa Miller of Newsweek viewed an electronic edition of the Bible that was replete with linked maps, a commentary and dictionary, and 700 paintings depicting biblical scenes. Astonished, she sputtered, “This is the beginning of the end of the Word.”Theologically, the future of the Word as the Bible remains assured. That is because the God met in Israel and Jesus Christ acts in history, and the church (as well as the synagogue) can give no remotely adequate account of its faith and practice without resort to the memory of a story that's been preserved via the spoken and written word.
Met any vampires lately? They are unavoidable in popular culture, from Stephanie Meyer’s books Twilight and New Moon (both made into films) to television fare such as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. And though Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have gone off the air years ago, she lives (and slays) on in DVDs and comic books.
Skip the American movie version of this story and view the series made by BBC for television. Focused on the press and shady doings in the upper echelons of government, this investigation of a murder unfolds over six hours. The depth of characterization gets viewers invested in the story and makes the suspense all the more (pleasantly) unbearable.
Avoid haphazard writing materials. A pedantic adherence to certain papers, pens, inks is beneficial. No luxury, but an abundance of these utensils is indispensable. –Walter Benjamin, “The Writer’s Technique in Thirteen Theses”
The intense debates over health-care reform have brought to mind some poignant memories. When my father was in his early 40s he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Our entire family was shaken, but perhaps no one more than Granddad and Grandma Clapp. Moving into their elderly years, they had to watch a son die.
Recently a friend forwarded me a cautionary e-mail. It reported that a couple in Canada had parked for an errand, and as they walked away from their car, the driver used the remote on his key fob to lock the doors. When the Can adians returned to their car five minutes later, it had been stripped of a laptop and a cell phone. The police were summoned.