For This I Went To College!

Commencement-address season is upon us, bringing glad tidings about the power of grads—especially young women–to change the world. We live in a time of great global advocacy for girls’ education, purported to be a game-changer on many grounds. The education of young women is praised for lowering birthrates, for improving health, for advancing peace (girls’ [Read More…]

A Trade Good for Body and Soul: School and Career Choice for New England Puritans

These are days of decision. This span of weeks in April and May can be fraught ones for families with children of a certain age, when colleges await commitments from those who hope to start next fall, and as the clock winds down for students four years or so on the other side, about to [Read More…]

The Righteous Sentences of Julia Ward Howe

Nicknamed the “Queen of America” in the nineteenth century, Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) goes often unremembered in ours. Elaine Showalter’s new biography , The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe, aims to recollect reasons for her public acclaim while uncovering her private marital distress.   The most beautiful and accomplished daughter of a New York banker, [Read More…]

Remember that you are dust

All of my children got ashes on the forehead before getting washed with the waters of baptism. This is probably common, depending on local protocols of baptism or Ash Wednesday, which more American Protestants now observe as an edifying if not essential rite. Our Anglican church schedules baptisms for the Easter vigil, so our kids [Read More…]

Drawn to the Women Saints

“I am not Catholic, and yet I find myself drawn to the women saints,” admits Jessa Crispin in a recent New York Times op-ed.  Crispin is not alone in this fascination, nor should she be.  She touts St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) as independent woman, one engaged in meaningful work rather the traditional woman’s lot [Read More…]

Museum Catechesis

The tourist arrives in a city like Florence, Italy, ready to gape at the Renaissance. Though postured to appreciate it, book in hand and eyes directed up, he might find himself at a loss, like the man ahead of me at the Florentine baptistery who, under the mosaic of Christ Pantocrator, asked the Italian leading [Read More…]

You are not still working on that

Though Thanksgiving is rooted in real historical events, intentional misremembering of those events is a big part of our holiday observance.   In his new documentary about the Pilgrims, Ric Burns rues the way we “forget almost everything actual about the Pilgrims when we sit down to eat turkey on Thanksgiving.” What we honor as authentic [Read More…]

The Problem of Inequality–for Puritans

It’s that time of year when New England muscles into the spotlight, showing off Patriots and scarlet maples, clear skies and Salem-witch shenanigans. But showing off–and the way that exacerbates anxieties of economic inequality—is not the New England way, at least not from the region’s seventeenth-century colonial beginnings. It should be said straightaway that the [Read More…]

Pope Francis and Our America

At the end of the first visit of Pope Francis to the United States, we should remember that his Holiness came to us by way of Cuba. And coming by way of Cuba, his travels might remind us of the shared historical experience of the United States and those Spanish-speaking lands south of the border, [Read More…]

This is not about abortion

In case you were unaware of your need for a book titled A History of Pregnancy in Christianity, University of Oslo religious history professor Anne Stensvold’s new release, consider this. Every person on the planet exists because of a reproductive act (sex, usually) and a nine-month period of a care by a particular woman, inside [Read More…]


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