In the latest issue of the Century, Philip Jenkins writes about how the veneration of Mary cuts across religious difference in Egypt. Egypt was the place where Mary first lit up the imaginations of Christians, but apparently her appeal is not limited by culture or religious heritage. Lately I’ve come across a couple of enchanting books that illuminate this for me.
A couple of years ago I ordered a book by Jen Hadfield on the strength of a vividly disgusting couplet I came across somewhere or other: “Under the broiler / turned sausages ejaculate.” (That’s turned as in forgotten and rotting—Hadfield’s idiom is Scottish, as are her eye and ear.) The book was strong, but Byssus (Picador), her new collection, is even stronger.
So you doubt the whereabouts of God, a quark, everywhere yet nowhere at once. So the hell what? Doubt you the wind, doubt sandstone erosion and trilobite carapace. Let faith in dawn weather slow as feldspar. The sperm whale’s lungs collapse a thousandfold in unfathomable depths, yet bear it, unyielding. You who preach against miracles, go doubt the arctic tern asleep on the wing. Doubt that a father will leave untouched constellations of frost inside his windshield, the breath of his child frozen overnight. Doubt that bodies lose a few grams the moment of death. Doubt that, you who will, doubt that.
Hamdi Ulukaya, president and CEO of the Chobani yogurt company, recently gave his 2,000 full-time employees a 10 percent stake in the company. Long-term employees’ stake could be worth more than $1 million. Ulukaya, an immigrant from Turkey, regards this giveaway as one of the finest moments of his life. “I’ve built something I never thought would be such a success, but I cannot think of Chobani being built without all these people,” he said. The upstate New York company was valued in 2014 at between $3 and $5 billion (Time, April 26).