Emily Dunnan Dec 29, 2017

We have all read the story in which the “classy detective with a sixth sense and an addiction,” accompanied by his “naive sidekick,” deduces that the “suicide case,” closed by the “bumbling policeman,” is obviously a murder. The author invokes “stormy skies” which reflect the detective’s mental state as he confronts a “secret from his past,” leading inevitably to redundant sequels, poorly parroting the style of the Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These well-worn clichés constitute the matter of what Annie Dillard would call dishonest literature.

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Kate Deddens Dec 28, 2017

In the first portion of our excursion through the sticky saying that we discover in Homer’s Achilles I explored the idea that we’re not as different from Achilles as we think. Hearkening back to Bespaloff (On the Iliad), we might at this point be able to recognize that while in spirit we admire Hektor, more often than not in action we emulate Achilles. For confirmation, we only need to survey our society in which appearances, wealth, fame, brash self-assertion, and power are our golden calves.

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Joshua Gibbs Dec 22, 2017

In 1982, Walter Warren Milliken was the third wealthiest man in the world. Oil magnate, news chief, captain of the steel industry, shipping merchant, beef and milk tycoon. Fifty years old, five wives behind him, Milliken was the only Western man worth more than a billion dollars who wore a full beard. He said, “The fullness of the earth is mine,” and ate raw pink abalone every day. For twelve minutes one Christmas Eve, he became possessed by a demon with an unpronounceable name. Strong as a bear in the arms.

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Lindsey Brigham Knott Dec 21, 2017

A few weekends ago, on a bitter forty-degree night (oh you who laugh, you too might shiver if you lived in the South where no buildings hold heat and no people own coats!), a hundred or so people braced against the chill to take in the wonder being enacted on the outdoor stage: a one-man performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, delivered with subtlety and zest by a skilled local actor, who seemed to have memorized every page of the novella, word-perfect. 

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Adam Andrews Dec 20, 2017

We teach Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn every year in our American Lit class. Despite its unassailable status as an all-time classic of the genre, my reasons for the choice are as personal as they are professional. I assign it over and over because of how much I loved it as a boy.

Heidi White Dec 19, 2017

It is December and the year is waning. The calendar year fades away with its annual decline, while the liturgical year renews itself again in Advent. I don't know about you, but I delight in fresh starts, as long as I carry into the that new beginning a unified vision and the practices to support it.

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Karen Kern Dec 18, 2017

A popular Christmas song tells us that, when the bustle of Santa’s big day, with the busy sidewalks and the children laughing and the snow crunching, makes its assault, we should listen for the soothing silver bells . I love those  busy sidewalks and the children laughing and the snow crunching and all the activity that the season demands. Yet, traditionally, Advent is a time of silent waiting, of reflecting and fasting, of anticipating the Messiah. 

Where do we find time for silence and stillness?

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Jessica Burke Dec 15, 2017

My six-year-old became increasingly indignant during the series of eight flights we took last month. The children were all especially interested in the safety presentation before takeoff, but whenever the flight attendants told adults to put on their oxygen masks before helping others, my daughter was agitated. “That’s so mean!” Her eyes narrowed, and she crossed her arms over her body. “How so?” I inquired. She glared at the flight attendant two rows in front of us. “Mothers should always put their children first!”

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Adam Andrews Dec 13, 2017

The marriage bed of Odysseus and Penelope gives us one of the most powerful images in Homer’s Odyssey. Carved from a living olive tree still rooted in the ground, it symbolizes the centrality of marriage to the health and preservation of a good society. Odysseus’s struggle to return to this bed and his slaughter of the usurpers who would take his place there form a satisfying climax to one of history’s greatest stories.

Joshua Gibbs Dec 13, 2017

Every December, Christians are subjected to a host of dour, skeptical, and cynical claims about Christmas. We are told that, back in the day, Christmas was actually a pagan holiday. We are told that Jesus was actually not born on December 25th. And even after the mountain of evidence against these skeptical claims is sorted out, there is also the accusation that Christmas has become nothing more than a cash grab.

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