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."
“For decades there has been a premium on language as subject,” says poet Christian Wiman. But recently poets are “trying to find some way of speaking of ‘ultimate things’ with some sort of credibility.”
While I was finishing my Ph.D. I took a job as an adjunct
professor at a small, state-run college. The experience was a lesson in
humility. Most of the time, fancy graduate degree or not, I was treated like a
cog in a machine--and a suspicious cog at that.
When Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth studied revolutions that
had occurred over a period of more than 100 years and across the globe, they found
that nonviolent revolutions are twice as likely as violent ones to succeed.
that nonviolent revolutions attract a greater range of the population and
create a higher likelihood of defection among supporters of a particular
I cringed when I read Jeffrey MacDonald's accusation, quoted
here by Steve Thorngate, that Americans have turned Lent into a spiritual
self-help event "whose effectiveness is measured by how well it entertains us
and affirms what we already believe."
Olga Grushin is the author of two critically acclaimed novels,The Dream Life of Sukhanov and The Line. Both grapple with the legacy of the Soviet Union and the depths of human character. Raised in Moscow, Grushin was the first Soviet citizen to graduate from a U.S. university after the cold war. She now lives in Washington, D.C.
urge for Lent started for me several weeks ago. I was out on a cross-country
ski with a friend when a small herd of elk ran in front of our path, kicking up
a cloud of snow. They were so close that we could see their breath as they
passed. When they reached the crest of a small hill, they turned collectively
toward us and paused for a moment before running on.
Learning to see in new ways is one of the most difficult tasks of the transformed life. Old habits of selective vision, old choices about what to leave out and what to focus on tend to dominate us, even as we search for new ways of living that are in closer communion with the life of the Spirit. Transfiguration--that mysterious transformation of vision that is narrated in today's readings--is a radical, if brief, way of illumination.
In the opening scene of this new novel, the protagonist,
Golden Richards, comes home from work to one of the three houses where his four
wives and 28 children live, and he literally cannot find a pot to piss in. The
bathrooms, of which there are never enough, are all occupied. The house is in
disarray and chaos.
I have become a BBC Middle East addict.
I check in every few hours to see updated reports of what is happening in
Egypt. I cannot get enough of the freshness of their reporting, their insightful
and personal commentary and their somewhat cynical take on the world's
In an interview with Oxford professor Michael Willis
about Tunisia, Radio Free Europe correspondent Hossein Aryan noted that "there
has not been a religious dimension to the unrest" in the Middle East. This is
quickly becoming the conventional wisdom.