About Agnes Howard

Agnes Howard teaches at Christ College, the honors college of Valparaiso University. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Her writing has appeared in Commonweal, First Things, The Cresset, and other publications.

Does Hamilton Have to Sing?

Step away from that soundtrack! Last month Library of America released The Essential Hamilton by Yale professor Joanne B. Freeman, who has been writing and teaching about Alexander Hamilton and colleagues for over two decades. John Williams’s recent New York Times mention of the book describes it as “Hamilton Minus Music,” or, “a more direct [Read More…]

Could Protestants Reclaim Purgatory?

George Saunders’s novel Lincoln in the Bardo springs from an actual historical event, but ends up with more to say about loss and the afterlife than historical record. Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie died of typhoid in 1862. President Lincoln made nighttime visits to the boy’s tomb, and around that report Saunders builds a strange world of souls [Read More…]

Adam and Eve Are Not Dead

Bruce Feiler has put Adam and Eve back in vogue with his book The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us, reading that couple’s story as a classic–no, as the classic love story.  For Feiler it is not just classic but useful, the pair as role models for relationships today.  He thinks theirs is a [Read More…]

Leadership for All?

Enough already with leadership.  What we need are some good followers. This is the bottom line of an excellent New York Times piece by Susan Cain, timed tactfully just before this year’s batch of college acceptance letters come due.  Cain’s article opens with a college questionnaire filled out by the father (!) of an applicant [Read More…]

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…]