“Today, we live with this illusion that we know the world," says
William Dalrymple. "The reality, of course, is. . .that there's huge
parts of the world which we know absolutely nothing about, particularly
in areas of religion and philosophy." For most of us, India is one of
A friend of mine was dismayed when
Sunday school teachers at her church proposed a new Sunday school
schedule for fall: classes held weekly except for the third Sunday of
each month, when there would be no structured Sunday school classes.
The teachers and their kids would take a break from the 9 o’clock hour
Sunday school responsibilities and the Sun.
Lorrie Moore, whose short-story collections (Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Birds of America: Stories) are known for wit that sparkles and bites, has earned book-of-the-year status for her recent novel A Gate at the Stairs.
This winter I had the opportunity to observe a Caravaggio painting upclose and often: his Supper at Emmaus (1601) was on loan to the Art Institute of Chicago from its permanent home in London’s National Gallery. From the Century offices, it was only a few steps across Michigan Avenue to see this vibrant, dramatic painting.
In 1984 Ronald Reagan declared that no U.S. foreign aid money would be sent to organizations that perform abortions, provide counseling and referral for abortions, or lobby to make abortions legal or more available. This policy, often referred to as the gag rule, was rescinded by Bill Clinton, reinstated under George W. Bush, then canceled again by Barack Obama. As it’s swung back and forth for the last 25 years, this pendulum of policy on international family planning and women’s health has resulted in unnecessary tragedy. Many health clinics have closed, with women and children as the first to lose.
Something has spooked July Montgomery’s cows. As he scans the edges of the hayfield looking for the source of their fear, he reminisces about a morning 20 years earlier when he bought his farm in Words, Wisconsin.
When Rob Bell walks on stage at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, the 38-year-old sports chic black glasses and black jeans with a wide, white 1970s belt. His geeky, affable presence and energized speaking style warm up the room quickly and signal a seasoned performer. After you hear Bell speak, it’s not surprising to learn that his childhood hero was David Letterman or that as a college student he was lead singer in a band.
You think your church has problems? Imagine your church building closing and your denomination telling you that it can’t afford to fund a pastor. Imagine trying then to keep alive the vision of a vital congregation and taking on the cleaning and maintenance of the building while you wait—for 40 years.
In 1980, Marilynne Robinson published her first novel, Housekeeping, which won a PEN/Hemingway Award and was made into a movie. She published nonfiction works during the next 24 years, including The Death of Adam and Mother Country, but kept her fans waiting until 2004 for a second novel.
Few writers can stand on the edge of personal destruction and then report on the process with both mordant wit and complete honesty. For Anne Lamott, the combination made Traveling Mercies a runaway best seller.
Six years later, Lamott continues her account of her new faith and its application to her life as a writer, church member and parent in Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. In the five years since Traveling, Lamott seems to have gained strength, propelling herself forward through rough moments by leaning on her congregation, her friendships and therapy, and shaping a Christian life for herself and her son, Sam, now a teenager.
At an Alpha training conference in Detroit, a dozen people came forward to testify to the power of the Alpha program. One couple had been close to divorce when they encountered Alpha. The course inspired them to salvage their marriage and become active in a church.
The truck next to me at the stoplight had these words pasted across the back window: “I Have a Son in the Army.” There was no flag decal, no “I’m proud to have” in front of the words, just the fact. I imagined that this son was in Iraq, and that this father was thinking about him as he waited for the light to change.
In 1977 Wendell Berry warned that the rise of corporate farming and the disappearance of the family farm were destroying local communities and economies. These developments also caused soil erosion, and reduced the quality of the food we eat.
Like many Americans, my family will celebrate July 4 by sharing a picnic with friends. After the usual greetings, jokes, and anecdotes about our children, we’ll no doubt find time for a political discussion. And since most of us are Democrats living in a very Republican county, my husband and I won’t have much trouble triggering a good argument with strong opinions.