The Benedict Option, New England Edition

Ian Lovett’s recent Wall Street Journal essay traces a growing trend among traditional Christians to move to remote locations, often near a monastery, to recreate a kind of life that recalls Christian devotion in an earlier time, like the Middle Ages.  In Oklahoma, California, Texas, and Arkansas, Lovett finds new outposts of Catholics who prefer [Read More…]

Birth and Eating as Resistance Movements

Should Christians have any particular care about food and eating? Should Christians have any particular care about how women give birth? Those paired questions may not seem natural to treat together.  Barbara Katz Rothman, though not addressing a religious angle, joins concerns about food and childbirth in her wittily titled new book, A Bun in the [Read More…]

Lessons from a Portrait Project

Welcome, new year! By the end of 2016 it had become a little too fashionable to express relief that that wretched year was over.  But just turning a calendar page is cheap satisfaction, since lots of the trouble we carried in the previous year comes sloshing over into the new. Among those troubles, the trial of Charleston [Read More…]

Indiana’s Other Claim to 2016 Fame

A big day is nearly upon us.  Not as big as Christmas, but not small either.  December 11 marks the 200th birthday of the state of Indiana.  Some Hoosiers have been celebrating all year already, but the rest of the country might whoop it up too. If you weren’t thinking that a state bicentennial was [Read More…]

Art and the Work of the People

This moment might seem an uncanny one for finding beauty and common purpose, but John E. Skillen summons us to just that in his new book, Putting Art (Back) in Its Place.  The author beckons us to medieval and Renaissance Italy, not as luxury tourists or casual traintrippers, but for the repair of something that matters to [Read More…]

Pantsuits and Politics

At one point in the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Trump was asked what he meant by a remark that Clinton did not have a presidential “look”.   To be sure, it already is common knowledge that women’s looks are of interest to this candidate.  Furthermore, nearly all elements of the possibility of [Read More…]

Birth Advice from Leo Tolstoy

Popular notions about baby-making, religious or not, often have been peculiar.  The soon-to-be-in-theaters Warner Brothers’ film, Storks (“In the beginning…storks delivered babies”) underscores this afresh.  Unlike the stork story, some of these notions do better than others in appraising the life-sustaining, life-changing, life-giving work women do in nine months’ worth of bearing with.   Tolstoy [Read More…]

How to Pray for a Presidential Candidate You Don’t Like

Under current circumstances, praying people might puzzle over how to pray for leaders they do not much like.  History affords a range of options, from requesting deliverance from evil rulers, to affirming allegiance to the powers that be whom God ordained, to giving thanks for just and prudent officials.  Another provocative possibility comes from invocations [Read More…]

“What Men Foolishly Bring on Themselves”: Why You Should Vote for Someone Good

Samuel Willard (1640-1707), minister at Boston’s Third Church—“Old South”–offered a heady dose of Puritan political thought in his classic election sermon, “The Character of a Good Ruler.”  A conventional part of Massachusetts government from the colonial period into the late nineteenth century, election sermons aimed to remind elected and electorate alike of the gravity of political [Read More…]

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…]