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God’s Call and American Idol: Part 2

If you’re a contestant on American Idol, you may have the holy desires to uplift your fans through your singing and to earn a living for your family. But if you sabotage another entrant to better your chances of prevailing, your holy desires have become warped. While many desires prompt goodness, others trigger evil and…

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God’s Call and American Idol: Part 1

By Jan ValloneApril 24, 2018

I love American Idol and could hardly wait until this spring when the show was revived after a two-year hiatus. I’d watched it all through the previous seasons: those judged by Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Randy Jackson; those when Kara DioGuardi stepped in; the stints of Steven Tyler, Mariah Carey, and Nicki Minaj; the reigns of…

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Halos and Other Important Things

By Jessica Eddings-RoeserMarch 22, 2018

In second grade my mom put me in an art class taught by a fluffy-haired blonde who took us to a museum to sketch a Madonna with child. Before we began, our teacher asked us what we noticed about the painting. I raised my hand. “She has a golden crown.” “It’s a halo, not a…

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The Vocation Trap

By Bryan BlissOctober 5, 2017

My wife is finishing up the first of a multi-year graduate program in nursing. When she graduates, it will be with a doctor of nurse practice. (This will also, coincidentally, mark my retirement. Or so I keep telling her. She has yet to comment.) Anyway, her pursuing this degree has been a conversation we’ve had…

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Save the Economy: Read the Classics

By Peggy RosenthalSeptember 29, 2015

I was reading Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si when I began an article called “What is Wrong with the West’s Economies?” Published in the August 13, 2015 issue of The New York Review of Books, the article is by Edmund Phelps, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Director of Columbia’s Center on Capitalism and Society, and…

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Something’s Not Working

By Caroline LangstonSeptember 16, 2011

The old red brick convent rises two big ghost-floors above the larger, L-shaped main level. It is not a romantic building in the classic, sprawling sense of what the word “convent” might connote, like the Sisters of St. Joseph’s giant Mt. Saint Mary Convent in Wichita, or the Poor Clares’ walled and flamboyant nineteenth-century complex…

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The Work is Calling

By Allison Backous TroySeptember 13, 2011

“It was only love we were looking for….” —Patty Griffin Part of my task at Good Letters, for myself, is to work on my first book. With the ways that daily life squashes my writing time, I’m trying to see these posts as ways into my memoir. The book that I’ve wanted to write, and…

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Whitman at the Gettysburg

By Andy WhitmanMarch 31, 2010

I am re-reading Shelby Foote’s massive, three-volume history of the Civil War. Foote, who played the role of courtly southern scholar and mischievous scamp on Ken Burns’ heralded PBS Civil War documentary, was one of my favorite human beings. He was erudite, witty, and—a startling claim for a historian, really—supremely soulful. He could sift through…

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A Prayer for Vocation

By Dave GriffithFebruary 18, 2010

In his 1999 Letter to Artists, Pope John Paul II cites the words of the Polish poet, Cyprian Norwid: “beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up.” He goes on to refresh our memory of the Platonic notion that beauty resides in the good and the good in beauty.…

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