Reading Charitably

classic-books

  Applying the commandment to “love my neighbor” to literature, Laura Marshall discovered a whole new way of relating to writers.  When I was five, I sat on the couch, cried over my first phonics book, and told my mother that I was stupid and would never learn to read. She refused to believe me and would probably not be surprised to know that now, twenty-three years later, I am a graduate student in Classics, attempting to understand themes in Homer and the intricacies of … [Read more...]

A Polish Christmas

OPLATEK2

  Ever since immigrating to the United States from Poland in the 1980’s, my mother has been heart-sick for the homecountry. This has manifested itself in a number of ways: frequent trips to New Britain (affectionately nicknamed New Britski for its large Polish population), referring most inventions/artworks/discoveries back to somebody Polish, teaching me about Polish history, and, most famously, re-creating Wigilia, the traditional Polish Christmas Eve vigil supper, for around thirty … [Read more...]

Wrongful: A Story of Injustice Overturned

johnny_automatic_scales_of_justice

    My interview with Ndume Olatushani shook my faith in our justice system. But I found that my own attitude represented a larger problem.  I met Ndume Olatushani on an uncharacteristically warm day in February. He drove up in a gold sedan, rolled down the window, and invited me to get in. He needed to drive a few miles up the road and pick up some of his art that had been on display at a gallery. I could go with him. Before getting in his car, I hesitated. The man … [Read more...]

Against Fairness

AgainstFairness

  Stephen T. Asma’s book is titled Against Fairness, but it doesn’t take too long for the reader to discover what he is for. Asma thinks we’ve neglected nepotism, favoritism, and particularity in our relationships and our moral reasoning. Our natural impulse to play favorites is, in his opinion, actively suppressed: children have to bring in Valentine’s cards for the whole class, fast-tracking a friend in a job search is unethical, etc. In a world fixated on fairness, Asma turns … [Read more...]

Compassion in the Face of Force

Simone_Weil_1921

  For Simone Weil, justice is primarily an act of paying attention, which protects the sacred cry in every human being not to be hurt.  "It would seem that man is born a slave and that servitude is his natural condition." So concludes Simone Weil’s Analysis of Oppression. The essay is a study of political history,  but throughout her short life, Weil also encountered human slavery far more immediately. Born in Paris in 1909 to an agnostic French-Jewish middle-class family, … [Read more...]

The Evangelicals You Don’t Know

The-Evangelicals-You-Don-t-Know-Introducing-the-N

  Any reportage on American Evangelicals that cautions its audience not “to dismiss these people as... zealots who have surrendered their ability to think rationally” immediately stands apart from most religious journalism. So Tom Krattenmaker’s The Evangelicals You Don’t Know: Introducing the Next Generation of Christians is a welcome work by that standard alone. Unsatisfied with the attitude that “not only insults these Christians but also mocks what is supposed to be a … [Read more...]

Blessed Are the Homesick: Hospitality for Mobile Millennials

dinnerwcurrys

The independent rootlessness of emerging adults presents potent opportunities for the practice of hospitality.  Shana Tovah! It was Rosh Hashanah in Washington, D.C. I unexpectedly found myself on my neighbor’s patio, ringing in the lunar New Year with a small gathering of his Jewish friends. Everyone was in his or her twenties, a bipartisan collection of government staffers, advocacy workers, and writers. California. Georgia. New Jersey. Everyone was from somewhere else. Our … [Read more...]


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