Growing up, Rachel Hanel knew about death. Her father was a gravedigger and cemetery caretaker, and she played among the tombstones. She noted the inscriptions on grave markers, especially the birth and death dates of those who died young. But Hanel didn’t know grief until her father died three days after it was discovered he had extensive cancer. He was just 46 and she only 15.
Having written a weekly column in the Guardian and published a series of books on philosophy for the general reader, A. C. Grayling is a rarity: a well-known philosopher. Well known at least in Britain. Recently he has become a controversial figure because of his role in the founding of the New College of the Humanities in London, a private institution with costly tuition.
All three of Kent Haruf’s novels set in the fictional farming town of Holt, Colorado, bear liturgical-sounding titles: Plainsong (1999), Eventide (2004) and now Benediction. Many of their characters are looking for a benediction: a good word of connection, closure, forgiveness or security.
Lying is usually considered reprobate behavior, yet it seems to be acceptable behavior for political leaders and even expected in international affairs. Mearsheimer was surprised to learn that political leaders are much more inclined to lie to their own people about foreign affairs than they are to lie to the leaders of other countries.
What does it mean to be mainline Protestant? For some it means being Christian, but not evangelical, or not Catholic, or not a member of some other group perceived to be inadequate. Others imagine the tall steeple on Main Street, or the majority of the electorate, or some other icon of Christendom’s passing power.