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.
If, as Karl Barth said, God may speak through a blossoming shrub or a dead dog, I reckon God may be found at rock festivals. At least that is my hope every spring as the Chicago winter finally eases its grip and I begin planning rock music outings.
While I never suffered the childhood trauma of parents getting divorced, I know as an adult what it is like to suffer with a divided family. That is because I am an Episco palian. As everyone knows—the late-night arguments and breaking of dishes have been audible since spring 2003—the Episcopal Church teeters on the edge of a breakup.
New inventions often result in new words, or neologisms. Radar, for instance, emerged as an acronym for a “radio detection and ranging” device. Cultural developments also evoke new words and phrases, such as cyberspace (originating from science fiction), soccer mom (from the world of politics) or prequel (from movies and pop culture).
For a practice to qualify as “evangelical” in the functional sense means first of all that it communicates news. It says something particular that would not be known and could not be believed were it not said.
For Christians (as for religious people of various sorts), music is a basic human activity. We cannot live without worshiping, and we cannot worship without making music. Smack in the middle of the Bible are the Psalms, the blues and praise songs of the ancient Hebrews. And the earliest confessions of the New Testament may have been lifted directly from hymns that rang out in corporate worship.
In recent years, “No problem” has become a customary response to a “Thank you” rendered to wait staff, service providers, hosts and gift givers. By my observation, this practice of replacing “You’re welcome” with “No problem” began with the generation now in their thirties. “No problem” is now widespread enough that Judith Martin (Miss Manners) has thought it necessary to pronounce against it.
It was Marshall McLuhan, I believe, who first observed that the increased speed of transportation and communication had made the world a global village. That observation has become a commonplace. But we don’t usually focus on the aspect of the village metaphor that suggests we have become more, not less, parochial than our predecessors.