“No, Where Are You Really From?”: Dinaw Mengestu’s Novel of Ethiopians in America

Dinaw Mengestu's 2010 How to Read the Air tells two parallel stories: In alternating chapters, Jonas Woldemariam retells the story of his Ethiopian immigrant parents' ill-fated road trip through the Midwest, and his own equally ill-starred career as a teacher and husband. But the book is more tangled than most parallel-lines-meet narratives. Jonas is not only retelling the road trip but retracing it; the chapters about his teaching include the many stories he tells his students about his … [Read more...]

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What Sacramental Marriage Isn’t: Simcha Fisher

yeah: ...I am glad that Smith understands so well that the grace of marriage is something that must be actively pursued, consciously acted upon. And I hope that her confidence in her husband is rewarded with unbroken faithfulness and love, and that she will not be shattered when she discovers that he does have flaws. I hope that people read her piece and realize that it makes sense to look hard for a spouse who is trustworthy.But I hope to God she is never involved in any kind of marriage … [Read more...]

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“Actively Cultivating a Celibate Vocation”: A Queer Calling

with some excellent points: ...Get to know people who live a celibate vocation Finding active models of a celibate life worth living is hard. I spent time hanging out at monasteries and reading memoirs of people who remained single throughout their entire life. One of the most helpful books for me is My Song is Of Mercy by Fr. Matthew Kelty because Fr. Matthew is living out a celibate vocation as a gay man. Fr. Matthew’s sermons include occasional examples from the gay community that show he i … [Read more...]

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“Making Do”: I’m in Commonweal

with an actual review of Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City: Painfully conscientious, rule-bound, and motivated more by spiritual longings than by practical material concerns—these aren’t the terms in which most Americans think of low-income unmarried fathers. subscribers-only for now; I'll let you know if that changes. I had a more thematic piece on penitence in the book, not really a review, here. … [Read more...]

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Blogwatch, With Her Gummy Hands

Some links for a slushy Saturday evening."LGBT Rights and the UN: What the Church Does Not Teach." Powerful."Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators." Basically because we've always had it too easy and don't know how to work. I'd heard most of this before and it very much rings true for me--studying Russian has been a fairly brutal confrontation with my own limits, my quick temper and immediate frustration and a whole host of other character defects which are brought out when a task is … [Read more...]

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Five Things for Thursday

What I've been reading."Why Young Sexual Assault Victims Tell Incoherent Stories." When my alarmed parents sat me down to draw out every detail of what had happened, trying to construct a timeline and zeroing in on specific actions and body parts, I was terrified by their seriousness. The conversation was such an important one that we had it sitting right where we were when my sister brought up the subject: on the stairs. It’s hard to give an accurate account of something when you’re under t … [Read more...]

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“Making God’s House Into a Home: An Interview w/Spiritual Friendship’s Wesley Hill”

woot! ...I wrote that book when I was in my mid-twenties. Like a lot of people that age, I was wrestling with strong emotions and grappling with deep hopes and fears about the future. My greatest fear was waking up one day in my 60s or 70s, in an apartment by myself, having lived a deeply isolated adult life, without family and people with whom I could make a “home.” Much of that angst has subsided now that I’m in my early 30s, so if I were rewriting Washed and Waiting today, I’d be tempted to w … [Read more...]

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