What do we think of when we think of touch? Of hugging a loved one, of caressing a child’s cheek, or of intimacy with a partner? Or do some of us know touch only as something horrid—an act of aggression or invasiveness?
It’s one of the most discouraging realities in our society: foster kids who “age out” or leave the foster system and have to fend for themselves. Each year 250,000 of these kids leave foster care; each year only 22 foster care kids graduate from college.
In her Motherlode post “I Refuse to Be Busy,” K.J. Dell’Antonia mostly bypasses some of the complaints of working mothers. She doesn’t, at least not in this post, discuss the pressures on parents who are pressing their kids toward the best school, the best jobs, etc.
Smithsonian magazine has announced the finalists in its annual photo contest. You can see them at the Smithsonian’s site, where voting for the Readers’ Choice Winner is open till May 6. All the photos are worth a look.
My article in the March 19 issue tells the story of Larry Engel and Mike Breininger, two pastors in Richland County, Wisconsin, who were able to bridge a longstanding impasse between conservative and liberal pastors by beginning a conversation about their own theological and political differences. The result? A friendship between two pastors, cooperation among area pastors, and a jumpstart to initiating and sustaining needed community services.
Recently I went to see the newly acquired 18th-century Neopolitan crèche at Chicago’s Art Institute. The giant crèche fills a 15’X15’ cabinet. It will be exhibited for only five weeks because the dozens of terra cotta figurines, each about five to eight inches tall, are dressed in handmade embroidered fabrics too fragile to be exposed to the air year-round.
How many gadgets are de rigueur these days? I’m considering upgrading from my “dumb phone” to a smart phone, and I’m tempted to try an e-reader. At the same time, I’m troubled by the unspoken reality: we gadget people are an elite minority, a society of first-world people who have access to a network and its benefits that others don’t have. Or do we really believe that the entire world will soon be “like us,” connected into one happy progressively social network?
I can’t quit thinking about Yakub. In my purse I have a print clipping that includes a photo of the 12-year-old boy staring into the camera with a copy of Steve Jobs’s biography held high over his head. I pull it out from time to time and imagine Yakub at work.
Taras Grescoe is a straphanger: he prefers and relies on public transportation for day-to-day travel. He’s not hesitant to use a car occasionally, but he’d rather be on a train, bicycle or just on foot.
If you haven’t realized the urgent need for an expanded Violence Against Women Act, read today’sNew York Times, where novelist Louise Erdrich restates the theme that runs through her powerful novel The Round House(reviewed in a previous post): Native American women are being battered and raped by non-native men, and they have no legal support for pursuing justice—because non-natives are immune from prosecution by tribal courts.
A crime is committed at the round house, a sacred Ojibwe space on a North Dakota reservation. Immediately victim Geraldine Coutts and her family see their lives change; while she retreats to her room and into silence, her husband begins to second police in their investigation.