In Memoriam

roadside-memorialIf you live long enough in a place, people will start to die there, but the phenomenon of time’s passage is often framed more romantically. Consider the lines of the classic Beatles song (emphasis mine):

There are places I remember…
Some have gone and some remain
All these
places have their moments
with lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all.

I’m not immune to this tendency myself. I am a Southerner, after all, and a Mississippian, a member of the tribe for whom the phrase “a sense of place” is endlessly and (often) sententiously invoked.

A real joke: How many Southerners does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Three. One to call the yardman, one to mix the martinis, and one to talk about how lovely the old one was. [Read more...]

Over the Rhine: Finding Our Tribe

Over the RhineGuest post by Linford Detweiler

The following post is adapted from a talk given at the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 7, 2014.

Hello. I’m Linford Detweiler. I’m one half of the band Over the Rhine, and my wife and I are leading the songwriting workshop this week.

I asked Greg when I saw first saw him here a few days ago—I was just thinking out loud—if there was any significance to the fact that both Over the Rhine and Image were celebrating 25th anniversaries this year. Neither of us could pinpoint anything immediate, but Greg did remind us that we would be getting together in October at his alma mater up in Michigan. You see, Hillsdale College is welcoming Greg Wolfe back to campus to recognize his contributions to the world of art and faith and the conversation that continues to evolve around the two—a dialogue and a dance that Greg has made his life’s work and passion.

Greg joked and said, Yeah, the prodigal son returns. And I said, Yeah right. What could possibly be prodigal about your achievements? [Read more...]

The Regrettably Pretty Shoes: A St. Louis Story

st louis policeGuest post by Linda Wendling

 I love St. Louis. I love Ferguson.

My whole family grew up loving this burg. Two kids went to school there; my friends and I ate girly tea-party fare at The Thyme Table. And we all hit The Ferguson Bakery (famous for its chewy anise cookies). Ferguson and St. Louis proper are rich in historic homes, multicultural communities, and a long tradition of block parties (can you say “toasted ravioli?”). Two of my children still live in St. Louis. We still belong to the St. Louis Mennonites. It’s home.

This is the story of a young St. Louis mother who has to walk in far more deliberate grace and patience and with a cooler head than most of us—to not let her little girl catch the rage disease. Jaimie* is the child who came to us as a young single adult. Jaimie is the daughter who (gently) muzzles me now and then.

Jaimie muzzles herself. [Read more...]

Monasticism in Lockdown America, Part 3

jail-workoutsContinued from yesterday.

In the “burpees” the guys often showed me after they were home from prison—in their driveways and garages, always getting my heart thumping in my throat and a sweat in my shirt sooner than I expect—I recognized the Orthodox monks’ prostrations I’d learned in the monastery.

The homies in their tight tank tops and huge jeans began upright, then hit fists to their abs, bent down to a full bow, touching knees, then the ground, dropping to pushup position, and back up.

Many guys I know who go off to prison come back home more physically fit, even if spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, they return less alive, burdened with more of the very armor, trauma, rage, secrets, numbness, and sin that monasteries aim to remove.

[Read more...]

The Iron Cross: An Observation from the Way of Saint James, Part 1

LaStoriaI didn’t know Julia well.

The first time I saw her, she was sitting at the far end of the table around which our language class met. Although I knew the instructor, Chiara, it was my first day with this group of students who for years had gathered in Chiara’s dining room to discuss classic books in Italian.

That day I was the last one to arrive, and when I entered the room the group was already engaged in friendly pre-class conversation. As I took my seat, six pairs of eyes looked up at me, six mouths chorused “Piacere” with American twangs, and six hands reached across the table to shake mine.

But the person I noticed most was Julia, a trim woman about my age with a strawberry bob and a smile like a lamp.

Since I was new to the class, Chiara asked the veterans to introduce themselves: Filippo, Becca, Davide, Laura, Carla—all genial, interesting people who loved everything Italian.

But again, it was Julia who drew me. A psychologist with a PhD, she seemed warm, spoke Italian perfectly, listened to others with attention, as if they were the center of her world. Of all the members of the group, she was the one I hoped to make my friend.

[Read more...]


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