“A Stillborn Child Leads to a Murder Charge”: Me at AmCon

on an awful, years-long case: In 2006, 15-year-old Rennie Gibbs became pregnant. She tested positive for marijuana and cocaine during her pregnancy. Her daughter Samiya was born a month premature, with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. An autopsy on the child found traces of a cocaine byproduct, and Rennie was charged with murder—or rather, with what Mississippi calls “depraved heart murder,” signifying an especially callous crime. Gibbs’s case has wound its way through the legal syste … [Read more...]

From “How to Read the Air”

Those who came seeking help often did so with a faint trace of shame hovering over them--the sense that they were once again pleading to someone to grant them a right that everyone else they passed on the street, on the subway, and in traffic took for granted trailed them in almost all of their dealings and most likely made them more deferential than they had ever been. … [Read more...]

“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...]

“A Long, Cold Lent”: I read David Adams Richards’s “Friends of Meager Fortune”

it's CanCon for AmCon!: I saved The Friends of Meager Fortune, the second novel I’ve read by Canadian Catholic author David Adams Richards, for the polar vortex. If anything can make Boston in January seem warm, it’s this relentlessly grim tale of the last days of man-and-horse lumbering, with horses crashing through the ice and bloodied hands freezing on the reins.I’m conflicted about recommending the book. What is good in it is immensely powerful. The story of the doomed love of local fail … [Read more...]

Man Lives With Mother, Film at 11

No, this is a really good piece, from the LA Times: I have a confession to make.I am a 25-year-old living with his mother, the walking stereotype of a millennial. Raised on unearned parental affirmation, equipped with elevated self-esteem, we graduated from college only to face the most dismal economy since the Great Depression. One result, according to a 2012 Pew study, was that 36% of the nation's 18- to 31-year-olds were bunking in their parents' homes.They call us basement kids and … [Read more...]

Richard Rodriguez on God of the Desert

Some crankiness, but lots of challenging stuff here: ...Well, I think obviously we would have a different experience of nature. And maybe a different notion of what God expects from us; this is said as a believer, I should stress. It seems to me that a God who would reveal himself to Abraham in a place of such desolation is at least reminding us that our place on this Earth is temporary, and this is a place – a landscape – that reminds us of just how empty it is. The word desert comes from the n … [Read more...]

Scenes from a Police State (Florida)

from the Miami Herald: Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years.He’s been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times.Despite his long rap sheet, Sampson, 28, has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana.Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing.Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on … [Read more...]


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