In a guinea pig memoir, the intrepid narrator tries on a practice for a period of time, often a year, in the hope that the project will lead to personal or prophetic insight, renewed hope for the future—and a book deal.
Americans are not very good with failure. We take it personally; we draw lines in the sand and cast blame. And the Chicago Public Schools are, for the most part, failing—failing to provide an environment that fosters teacher excellence, failing to provide a physical environment in which kids can learn, failing to graduate kids with the basic skills to succeed, failing to graduate kids at all.
Tom Stoppard’s wonderful play Rock N’ Roll covers the period between 1968, when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, and 1990, when the Rolling Stones played the city. It’s Stoppard at his near-best: warm and funny, romantic and revolutionary, dedicated to ideas.
At the heart of the play is the reluctant dissident Jan. In Prague, says Jan, “there is only one agent of truth. That is not human—humans disagree with each other.”
I once went on a blind date. He was a law student, a friend of a friend, and I was a seminarian. We met for drinks.
He was nice, funny. He was a self-identifying Christian--the first one, actually, I had ever gone out with. We were talking about our chosen professions; he was, as many are, fascinated by the idea of a call to ministry. My call story is not exactly dramatic, but it has a social justice edge, forged on youth group mission trips and in researching poverty. “I want to make the world a better place,” I told the date.
The future lawyer looked at me and asked, “But isn’t the world a fallen place?”
As I kid, I was scared of monsters. Specifically, the Star Trek Salt-Vampire and Hans Christian Anderson’s Death, sitting on the Emperor’s chest. (I slept on my side for years after reading “The Nightingale.” Death couldn’t get you, I reasoned, if you declined him a seat.) But I was never afraid of the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are, the best-known book by Maurice Sendak, who diedonTuesday.
The General Conference of the United Methodist Church convened in Tampa last week. I’m not one of the 988 delegates who have descended on Florida to do the work of our church, nor of the 4,000 hosts, bishops, pages, translators and myriad lobbyists there to help. My participation is limited to following the proceedings from 1,000 miles away.
Still, my emotions have been all over the place. And judging from Twitter and Facebook, this roller coaster of highs and lows is almost universal among those who are there. The stakes feel high this year, higher than usual.
My parents' marriage began with
a betrayal. My maternal grandfather was in the army, so my mom's family moved
around a lot. She was shy and introverted, and she struggled to make friends
and establish roots. As an adult, all she wanted was a single place to call
Theories of change vary widely. Does progress arise from
countless participants, working in countless places and ways? Does it require
an organized movement? How critical are public, influential leaders? At what
point is there a need for precedent to be set from the top down?
Paul tells us to
"resolve" never to put a hindrance to the gospel before another person—and resolve
is what it takes. By initiating a conversation about hell, Rob Bell is putting his reputation on the line.
My generation--the tail-end
of X, or early Millennials--grew up in a time of soft racism and racial
inequality; we were also brought up to be tolerant and "color blind." Like most of
my peers, I wouldn't be caught dead using the n-word (despite being a bit of a
Last month Slate
ran a series by Juliet Lapidos called Strictly
Platonic. Lapidos and her friend Jeffrey were born in 1983. They've been
friends since meeting at summer camp as teenagers. There were a few forays into
romantic experimentation, but today they're more like brother and sister;
Many of the recent articles about clergy burnout suggested that it's a symptom of cognitive dissonance: pastors think their job ought to be a particular kind of work and are frustrated when it ends up involving something else. None of the media coverage, however, offered a compelling description of the call to ministry itself.
We are in the thick of it: Friday evenings have been
given over to wedding rehearsals and to discreetly bowing out of the
dinners afterwards. Saturdays are dedicated to joining couples in holy