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So Who Mothers the Mothers?

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“So who mothers the motherswho tend the hallways of mothers, the spill of mothers, the smell of mothers, who mend the eyes of mothers” –Catherine Barnett, “Chorus” On Easter, I go to my son’s father’s house—Sundays are one of his days—and watch my son enjoy his basket, which I spun from thin air the night…

Good Friday in Brooklyn

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We hear it before we see it. Sometimes, it’s the somber snap of the funereal snare. Sometimes, it’s the ladies’ choral recitations of the rosary, scratching through a tinny speaker. Then there they are, processing past our apartment building. It is Good Friday, the day of Christian upheaval and ruined expectations, and in a moment,…

Poetry Friday: Lord of the hopeless also dear

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Lord of the hopeless also dear     Hat-Soak Pole-in-the-Canal and Red-Tie Father     Son And Holy Ghost not     in that order break The rottenness of those who torture one Of Thy least wrath-deserving exiles me Not     wholly undeserving     no     but some And isn’t it the some that counts with Thee O     Gondola also as the trees pass…

Speedboat and the Quest for Truth

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The cell phone on the conference room table in London buzzed in the middle of the meeting, and the man glanced down at it, mid conversation. “My God,” he said. “They’ve arrested Assange.” A block away, at the Palace of Westminister, protesters on the sidewalk held signs either for or against Brexit: “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!…

The Angel of History

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Angelus Novus by Paul Klee I met Angelus Novus, a Paul Klee image, through Walter Benjamin’s writings, inscribed in his verse like a ghost. Within the binding of his book, like all books, I found my way into another world, a door to Narnia that released me into twentieth century Europe. At the time, Jewish…

Holy Week: Love’s Paradox

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White Crucifixion by Marc Chagall  It helps to know where you’re going. Few of us ever do. My wife and I had taken the train to Würzburg, Germany, only to learn most of the tourist sites were closed for the day. We decided to make the best of it, taking in what gardens and historic buildings remained open, and…

Veiled Images at Passiontide

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I would like to be a purple ghost / carried away by that kite… The effect of a veiled statue can be both unnerving and ridiculous. To wit: there’s a meme going around social media right now in which a statue of Christ with risen hands, draped in purple, looks absurdly like Grimace of McDonaldland. In a Catholic Church that practices the custom of veiling images during Lent,…

Hunger Moon

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I live in Minnesota, where the new growing season starts in May. At our house, March and April are our designated months for emptying the freezer, when we try to eat all the produce we froze the summer before. Sautéed spinach, tomato sauce, diced rhubarb, ratatouille, chopped raw onions and bell peppers divvied into one-cup…

The Pleasures of (Re)Reading

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If you’re going to make a habit of re-reading novels (as I do), then it helps to have a pretty poor memory (as I do). My re-reading seems to fall into two categories. First there are the novels I’ll re-read every ten years or so. These are the super-long ones that draw me inexorably into…

The Place of the Imagination in Spiritual Experience

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Does the imagination play a role in spiritual experience, I asked. How about in religious experience? On a Thursday morning late in the semester, a dozen undergraduates–honors students–and I gathered in a circle in the Laurel Forum, a room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves along one wall, another wall all windows opening onto the campus quad. A…

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For the humanists of the Renaissance, literature mattered because it was concrete and experiential—it grounded ideas in people’s lives. Their name for this kind of writing was bonae litterae, a phrase we’ve borrowed as the title for our blog. Every weekday, one of the gifted writers on our blogging team will offer a personal essay that makes a fresh connection between the world of faith and the world of daily life, spanning the gap between theology and experience and giving language a human shape.

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