Leaving Addis, Losing DC: Dinaw Mengestu’s “Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears”

I can't remember the last time I read a novel where I was the villain.The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears is a novel about the thwarted romance between a failing shopkeeper from Ethiopia and a white divorcee whose mixed-race daughter comes into the convenience store after elementary school to read The Brothers Karamazov. Two people who have fled their past lives come into D.C. right at the moment that the money started to pour in; before they can get their bearings, the tidal wave of … [Read more...]

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Benedict Option Conclusion: Places in the Heart

This is the final part of my series on Leah Libresco's discussion group on "The Benedict Option" aka living a more communal or "thicker" Christian life. Parts one, two, three, four.This is gonna be a pretty rambling conclusion loosely linked by the theme of "place." I've found it most helpful to view the discussion of "the Benedict Option" as a way of raising fruitful questions, not an attempt to provide a One Best Model. (It's about having more-Christian problems, not finding solutions--or … [Read more...]

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“St Louis Co. Towns Continue to Treat Residents Like ATMs”: Radley Balko

Hey man, people rarely beat on ATMs: ...It isn’t difficult to guess which groups of people are most likely to be affected by laws against walking in the street, wearing one’s pants too low, or “spending time idly.” It’s also probably a lot easier to avoid citations for having toys lying about (I’m still a little surprised this could be illegal) if you have a nice long drive way, or trees or fences to conceal the front yard.According to the Post-Dispatch, Pagedale has increased non-traffic re … [Read more...]

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“At Least Two States Let Prisons Charge the Families of Dead Ex-Prisoners for Their Food and Health Care”: Dara Lind

at Vox:Nearly every state lets prisons and jails charge inmates for their own incarceration — room, board, clothing, and doctor's visits — in a phenomenon called "pay-to-stay."We don't know exactly how many prisons and jails take advantage of "pay to stay." The latest survey, done in 2005, found that 90 percent of jails surveyed charged inmates fees of one kind of another. In an era of tight budgets, the practice is probably even more widespread today. ...In many of the statutes the B … [Read more...]

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Standing in Front of Your Own House (While Black): Washington City Paper Investigates “Incommoding” Arrests

The chitlins were making Alex Dennis sick. Dennis, a 20-year-old with dreadlocks that graze his shoulders, found himself getting nauseous in his apartment while his uncle and aunt cooked soul food for Thanksgiving.Dennis walked outside to get some air, but ended up right in the grasp of the Metropolitan Police Department.Stepping outside an apartment for fresh air doesn’t draw police attention in, say, Georgetown. But Dennis doesn’t live there. Instead, he lives on Buena Vista Terrace SE, … [Read more...]

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“Gay and Catholic” Book Extra: Two Frameworks for Supporting Weird Vocations

Hey y'all. A couple weeks ago I spoke to the Missio Alliance conference about friendship and celibate vocations, on a panel about "a kingdom vision for intimacy, desire, and sexual practice." And one thing which came up in conversation with Bruxy Cavey was the need for two different approaches to supporting people in what we might call overlooked vocations: paths of love other than marriage, parenting, priesthood and religious life.One approach looks to the church to be family for people who … [Read more...]

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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...]

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