Grace and the Incomplete Flush

oldcoolbuildingAlmost two years ago my husband and I bought a condo in a cool old building downtown. Great location, hardwood floors, exposed brick, pocket doors—charm and more charm. The trouble with cool old buildings is that they are rife with plumbing and electrical issues as ancient systems jury-rigged to keep up with modern times continually fail.

Our previous home had these same issues. The electrical never bothered me much—an ungrounded outlet here, a shorted breaker there, a little smoke wafting out of the dimmer switch of a summer evening. Life.

But the plumbing. The plumbing is another story. The primary symptom of its troubles (and all of my angst about it) coalesces around what is known in the biz as an “incomplete flush.” No matter how many times you flush the toilet, you can never quite get rid of all evidence that you had to use it.

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The Tenth Leper

512px-ChristCleansing (1)Guest post by Kelly Foster

If you grow up in the South, you learn to write thank-you notes. You write thank-you notes for kind gifts. You write thank-you notes for kind words. You write thank-you notes for kind thank-you notes people send to you.

It’s a vicious circle of gratitude, but I suppose there are worse circles to be caught up in, and plenty that don’t provide one with an excuse to keep a ready supply of handmade stationery in reserve. So it goes.

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The Sex Offender and the Cross

crucifixGuest post by Paul Luikart

One day the girl I loved called me up—out of the blue—and said, “We could really use some help out here. We’re short-staffed.” She lived and worked in Phoenix at a Catholic Worker house that served homeless people.

So I hopped on the first plane from my parents’ house in Northeastern Ohio to the edge of the Sonoran Desert, to a city I’d never visited before, in a state I’d never even seen. Into the heart of a subset of humanity I’d only ever glimpsed from behind the sneeze guard of the soup kitchen where I’d once served a meal at my parents’ church.

I wasn’t even Catholic. But I was in love.

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Hazel Motes Is Out of Time

wisebloodTCM broadcast John Huston’s film version of Wise Blood yesterday, and I wound up watching it again. The whole movie is available on YouTube, so there was no need for me to delay my plans for two hours. I did it anyway.

I wanted to see some perfect casting—Brad Dourif, Mary Nell Santacroce, and Ned Beatty, to name just a few—and Huston’s low-budget cinematography. The story, set in post-World War II, is shot in 1970s Georgia, and the blend of the earlier and later dates gives a timelessness to the production, one I think Flannery O’Connor, author of the novel upon which the film is based,  would appreciate.

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Where Is the Light in Our Darkness?

12308890573_c2c6bf5eb0_zFor most kids I knew, Christmas was a time of anticipation. Even if you hadn’t yet figured out what was happening, you knew it was something. The music changed. Stores overflowed. Things began to sparkle.

Even once you knew what was happening, there remained a sense of delightful oddness. I think it was the lights, which cast everything in bright color or strange shadow. Or perhaps the eyes and hearts of people, likewise lit or darkened.

Christmas brings out the best and worst in mankind. In we small children, it brought forth a good and childlike thing, which is the belief that the world is covered over with magic, and all you need, in order to see it, is a different kind of light.

The world soon obscures that childlike vision. Many of us learned to see Christmas as a time of plunder. For some, it became a season of annoyance, even bitterness. For nearly all it became a gaudy carousel operated by madmen, and we all grabbing hold and clinging, because how can you let go? How can you disappoint those who await presents? How can you not hang the decorations you’ve accumulated in the attic? [Read more...]


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