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.
The community meal our church hosts--a modest operation that
serves four free meals a week to about 50 guests--has recently lost its main
source of donations. For several years, we've received big boxes of discarded
produce--lettuce, peppers, asparagus, chiles, tomatoes, potatoes, whatever was
being gleaned from the store shelves--from our local chain grocery.
As is so often
the case in these situations, the only part of the National Portrait Gallery's
show "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" that I have
seen is the part dubbed "offensive" and removed from the exhibition thanks to
the Catholic League's William Donohue and a few congressional representatives.
It is 11 seconds of a four-minute video by late artist David Wojn
The Fetzer Institute and StoryCorps are sponsoring the third
annual National Day of Listening
this Friday. The idea is to inspire people to listen to the stories of their
friends, families and neighbors. StoryCorps offers a free guide to gathering
stories, including a list of questions.
According to a Pew Social Trends poll
released today, almost 40 percent of Americans think that marriage is on its
way to becoming obsolete in American society. The number includes both people
who are indifferent to the end of marriage and those who are sorry to see it
Rivonte Moore, 17, doesn't think of himself as a theologian. But he raised his hand in a class at Atlanta's Candler School of Theology last summer to debate the meaning of the term "sentimental nihilism" as used by Cornel West in Democracy Matters.
On my neglected Facebook page sits an even more neglected
"Like" button. Although I read what others post and occasionally add a comment,
I grumpily avoid this particular feature. Technology based on personal
preferences-a rapidly expanding group that includes Hunch, Pandora, various
Google products and others-is a source of anxiety for me.
"I was doing my material about being a southerner in New York—about regional differences in shopping, food, clothing. People were laughing. Then I made the mistake of saying I was a minister. The room went silent."
A few years ago, when I was researching a story
in Veracruz, Mexico, the proprietor of a small cantina and I struck up a
conversation. When talk turned to religion, Señor Gonzalez shyly asked if I
would like to see one of his most highly prized treasures.