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Singularly Ambiguous

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

SAMUEL Johnson, the great eighteenth-century critic, moralist, and wit, once said of the American revolutionaries: “How is it that the loudest yelps for liberty come from the holders of slaves?” I don’t know what Johnson’s friend, Edmund Burke—a proponent of American independence—said in response to this, but I rather hope it was: “Touché.” While I…

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The Revolt Against Narcissus

By Robert Cording Essay

IN A SCENE from book 4 of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve talk one evening of the glories of Eden and their unmerited free creation by God, unaware that they are being watched by Satan. This little scene takes place shortly after Satan’s shape-shifting arrival in Eden and serves as a kind of foreshadowing…

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The Reading Wars

By Jeanne Murray Walker Essay

IT’S 103 DEGREES in Lincoln, Nebraska, and my mother is sitting at the kitchen table, twisting the elastic steel band of my father’s big watch around her wrist. She is paging through a book as massive as the New York telephone directory. It contains all of Shakespeare’s plays. The letters are the size of midges,…

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Slow Culture

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

IT HAPPENED FOR ME in seventh-grade English class. My teacher, Mr. Taussig, was an older gentleman. He had driven a tank in the Battle of the Bulge, which feat of courage helped to offset the fact that he looked like Mr. Magoo. For many months he dragged us line by line through Shakespeare’s Romeo and…

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Man Is But an Ass

By Harrison Scott Key Essay

WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I had two dreams. One of those dreams was to be a preacher. I wanted to preach because I loved public speaking, and because I loved memorization, and also because I grew up in the Church of Christ, which taught that baptism was the only way to get into heaven, but…

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The Thing Itself: Art and Poverty

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

The following is adapted from a presentation given at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley in January 2015 during a convocation on the topic “Blessed Are You Poor: What Does It Mean to Be a Poor Church for the Poor?”   I SHOULD HAVE TOLD Father Michael Sweeney that if he really…

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