Early last summer, the Obama administration opened a detention center in the remote town of Artesia, New Mexico, in order to detain Central American women who cross the southern border with their children. The facility was a centerpiece of the administration’s policy of family detention, which aims to “send a message,” as Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson said, that asylum seekers from these countries are not welcome.
This summer I am going to be teaching at a Kenyon College writing workshop designed for clergy who want to hone their writing skills for conversations beyond their congregations and denominations. The program, Beyond Walls, is envisioned as an interfaith conversation with writers and clergy from both Jewish and Christian traditions. I will be teaching essay writing along with Rodger Kamenetz, and he and I each have an essay in this month’s Beyond Walls e-mag.
At the end of Marilynne Robinson’s latest novel Lila, the title character envisions heaven in an intensely communal way. In light of that communal vision, Century associate editor Amy Frykholm gathered together three avid Robinson readers—Rachel Stone, Peter Boumgarden, and Amber Noel—for a conversation about the novel.
This week, at a refurbished camp for oil and gas workers, the Department of Homeland Security officially opened a new detention center for women and children who cross the southern U.S. border. In DHS director Jeh Johnson’s view, this is a move to prevent people from crossing the border at all. He wants to stem the tide of “illegal migration,” and he believes that detention is one means to do so. “Frankly, we want to send a message that our border is not open to illegal migration, and if you come here, you should not expect to simply be released,” said Johnson.
Glorybound takes place in a dying West Virginia town amidst people who are snake-handlers and prophets, to whom biblical language is as natural as breathing, and who cast their lives into exaggerated dramas.
This summer, I went to visit novelist Kent Haruf at his house in Salida, Colorado, to talk about writing and life and death. Not quite a year before, Haruf had been diagnosed with a terminal lung disease. He was in hospice care, and I had not known what to expect when he invited me to come.
I found Gilead such a complete experience that I didn’t feel a need to know more about Lila, a secondary character in the book. But in Marilynne Robinson’s new book, Lila, her occupation of this young woman’s thoughts and experience is so musical and convincing that I’ve read the novel twice and recommend it far and wide.