On Hot, Dry Ground: Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower”

I've read Butler's phenomenal sci-fi short story collection Bloodchild, but this is the first time I've dived into one of her novels. It's about a California slowly being devastated by climate change, where society is breaking down daily, just slowly enough that people can stay in denial. A teenage girl in a relatively-privileged multiracial gated community is the only one who will admit that the future will be murder; she plans for emergencies and begins to craft a new religion whose … [Read more...]

Two Links About Wesley Hill’s Fabulous New Book “Spiritual Friendship”

Oh so much more on this book from me coming soon!First, Wes is interviewed by Jonathan Merritt for RNS: RNS: Let’s start with the foundation. How do you define friendship in a sentence or two?WH: According to Christian writers of the past, spiritual or Christ-centered friendship—the kind of friendship I’m writing about—is a bond between two (or more) people who feel affection for each other. But it’s also a bond that has a trajectory. It’s a relationship that’s about helping one another … [Read more...]

“Downwardly Mobile for Jesus”: Al-Jazeera America

from 2014, but well worth your time now: ...For people like Loftus, it’s not coffee shops or home values drawing them to places like Sandtown. It’s Jesus. Shortly after Loftus started medical school in Baltimore in 2007, he began worshipping at New Song Community Church, a racially diverse congregation in Sandtown. New Song is part of the same Presbyterian denomination as the church Loftus and his 14 siblings attended as children in Harford County, Maryland, 40 minutes outside the city.New S … [Read more...]

A Criminal Justice System: Link Round-Up

Depending on how you've calibrated your expectations, some of these might be construed as hopeful!Others not so much.1. "Fourteen Years After Decriminalizing All Drugs, Here's What Portugal Looks Like":In 2001, the Portuguese government did something that the United States would find entirely alien. After many years of waging a fierce war on drugs, it decided to flip its strategy entirely: It decriminalized them all. If someone is found in the possession of less than a 10-day supply … [Read more...]

“Jesuits Offer Spiritual Retreats for the Homeless”

from Jesuits.org: It all began in Chicago in 1998 when Jesuit Father Bill Creed was asked by his provincial to find a way to make the Spiritual Exercises available to the economically disadvantaged. Along with Ed Shurna, executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Fr. Creed developed a format for providing Ignatian retreats to men and women who are homeless and in recovery from addiction.Today the Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) is a national network with overnight … [Read more...]

“Marilynne Robinson Returns to Gilead”: I review “Lila”

at AmCon--I think this piece turned out well: Ten years ago Marilynne Robinson began telling us the story of Gilead, Iowa, a tiny town surrounded by fields and farms. A droplet of water in which the whole world is reflected.She began with Gilead, a novel in the form of a long letter written from the dying John Ames to his young son. Ames situates the town in its historical context, showing how this apparently all-white enclave nonetheless falls under the shadow of racism, from the Civil War … [Read more...]

“Does Decriminalization Work?”: Really Solid Interview at Slate

asking the right questions: After three decades of watching the incarceration rate climb to unprecedented heights, Americans seem ready to usher in a new era of leniency. Some legislators are pushing to eliminate mandatory sentencing minimums for nonviolent drug offenders. Others are calling for the federal prison population to be slashed by letting some prisoners out early. Others still are advocating for incarcerated juveniles to be treated less harshly. Meanwhile, states all over the country … [Read more...]


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