Books on Barack Obama are proliferating. Recent additions include biographies, political analyses, a look into Obama's African family tree, books on his handling of specific issues and books on race and politics in American society. Among these, James Kloppenberg's intellectual contextualization stands out.
Several years ago, I was interviewed by Linda Wertheimer of
National Public Radio about the then extraordinarily popular Left Behind
series. At one point, she asked me if I thought the Left Behind books were
funny. I paused, trying to absorb all the layers of her question, and then came
up with a brilliant answer: "No. Why? Do you?"
On my bike ride home from the train station, I see a church
sign: "Shaking Foundations? God is Big Enough to Hold Onto." I assume that the
person who put this sign up was thinking about economic or personal
foundations, was trying to speak to the heightened anxiety that has its grip on
The faces in the photographs on the front page of the newspaper
startled me. They were laid out in rows. The first photo in the series was
invariably of a young girl, maybe with a mischievous smile or a rebellious
glare, but with a decided look of innocence. By the end of the series, that
same face was battered, bloated and bruised.
On a recent episode of Marketplace, after another
day of "volatility" in the stock market, host Kai Ryssdal asked New York bureau
chief Heidi Moore about that particular day's anxiety, apparently caused by
untrue rumors about a French bank.
I'm making my rounds at Safeway, shopping for my church's community meal. In the produce section—where I am forbidden to ask for donations—I see two heaping boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables headed to the trash.
Some education reformers are trying to shift
the focus from test scores to the broader circumstances of children's
lives. One idea emphasizes schools as places where children connect with
the broader society.
One of the most interesting posts on Middle East expert Juan
Cole's extensive blog is his advice
to fledgling Arab democracies on how to build a democracy. He bases his advice
on ten mistakes that he thinks Americans have made in the formation and
perpetuation of our democracy.
If federal policy met its goal of “zero tolerance” for people who
cross the border illegally, the caseload in the Tucson federal
courthouse would go from 200 a day to 1,000. Prisoners would need to be “processed” in groups of 40 instead of eight.
now, my ideas about summer reading were driven largely by guilt. My bookshelf
is packed to the gills with books that I "should" read: books people have given me and I need
to return, or books that have been sitting there so long, I have given myself
ultimatums--either read this or get rid of it.
In recent columns, Nicolas Kristof has taken up
the cause of a girl in India, the daughter of a prostitute, whom he refers to
only as "M." M. is ten years old. Thanks to an organization called
New Light, she was attending school in Calcutta.
Where I live at 10,200 feet, the
trees have not yet budded. May is still early, early spring in Leadville,
Colorado, but all around me is a sudden burst of gardening. For months, people
have been filling their homes with starter plants; now they're calling around
to see who has space for more in the few small greenhouses.
I first heard that the rapture would be
happening this Saturday via billboard outside Boston. I had no idea,
though I do try to stay informed.
Apparently, a California-based radio
preacher has been studying his Bible and running the numbers, like so many
before him. He's determined that May 21 is in fact the day that we've all been
"I wanted to open a bookstore that would contain the best of what had
been thought and written," says Warren Farha of Eighth Day Books. It's "an impossible goal, but that was the guiding
telos of the store."