99 Dreams I Have Had, Every One a Red Heifer: I read “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”

So I finally read Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and in spite of its serious flaws, I was still left with that wonderful feeling, Where have you been all my life? Why didn't I read this thing sooner?The novel's delights lie in its setting, its genre, and its prose. The setting is an alternate history in which the state of Israel was never founded, but the United States agreed to resettle Holocaust survivors and other European Jews in the Alaskan territory. So now … [Read more...]

“The Long Years After Failure”: I review “After the Storm”

at AmCon: After the Storm, the latest film from writer-director Hirokazu Koreeda (Maborosi, Nobody Knows), opens with a discussion of the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, where U.S. figure skater Janet Lynn fell during her free skate, came up smiling, and won the hearts of the Japanese audience.Forty-five years later the reaction of elderly Yoshiko (Kirin Kiki), the mother of Storm’s central character, is very different. “She fell on her butt and got a perfect score,” Kiki grouses. “It doesn … [Read more...]

Country Darkness: I read “‘Salem’s Lot”

After I finished Alan Moore's hulking tome Jerusalem (of which more presently) I picked up a pulp classic which turned out to have more in common with Moore's jawbreaker than just the Holy Land reference in the title. I'd actually never read 'Salem's Lot, despite loving Stephen King in general and pre-'9os King specifically. It's a great read, a luscious tribute to vampire tales of yore, with all of King's trademark sadness and determination. Some notes:# King returns to many of the images … [Read more...]

“When the Neighborhood Changes”: Matthew Loftus

covers a lot of ground quickly: [Baltimoreans] have good reason to be afraid. Some places are using “artwashing” — the practice of drumming up the art scene in a neighborhood or building to drive out lower-income residents in preparation for higher-income tenants — to advance gentrification. Indeed, much of New Urbanism hinges on “reviving” blighted areas of a city with more upwardly mobile residents, with long-term residents simply not included at least and deliberately opposed at worst. A neig … [Read more...]

Calling Godparents, Lifelong Friends, People Who Have Pledged to Serve Communities, And More!

Hello all. I'm doing a piece for America on what you might call "alternative kinship." Nonmarital, nonsexual forms of belonging and making family, which take place in a Christian context. The ones I'm most interested in are those adorned with ritual and formal promises, like the vows of friendship Wes Hill describes in his excellent Spiritual Friendship, but I'd also be interested in other ways people build practical and spiritual ties outside of marriage and religious orders/priesthood.If … [Read more...]

“Cocktail Theology”: William Dailey

at First Things: That brings us to the most important spiritual aspect of cocktail culture: hospitality. Those people coming in off the streets, coming into churches and taverns, what do they seek? Home. What truly excellent pastors can help to provide for the wayfarer is a taste of the home that is promised us with our Maker, though of course we will never feel quite at home this side of the kingdom. But the work of helping people to feel a bit less estranged, a bit more comfortable in their … [Read more...]

Why Is There a Refugee Olympic Team?: Dara Lind

explains how being a refugee is changing:The Refugee Olympic Team (or #TeamRefugee) is the first time refugees have been represented at the Olympic Games. And by representing the 19 million refugees and asylum seekers displaced around the world, the team is an inspiring symbol of internationalism. Its 10 team members, who have been displaced from five countries to five other countries, embody tremendous fortitude, discipline, and courage. But the Refugee Olympic Team is also a symbol of … [Read more...]