Education: For Life or Ideas?

Theories about education, Joseph Epstein announces in an echo chamber inhabited by the alert, “fizzle, then go down in flames” because they are foisted upon the unsuspecting student by “lunatics of one idea.” When the new idea rises to a sound loud enough to be heard by edu-crats, everything is asked to march behind — [Read More…]

Saturday Book Review: Joseph Epstein

Joseph Epstein is perhaps America’s most well-known familiar essayist, and I’ve read all of his books — unless I’ve not heard of one or two. Not that it matters except for this: I speak from experience when I say he may be America’s best familiar essayist. The competition, quite frankly, is not intense because there [Read More…]

R.R. Reno, Essayist

Russ Reno, the Senior Editor at First Things, a clear Roman Catholic and catholic voice, opines regularly in the pages of the magazine and its online site. Someone had the good idea of gathering up a few of Reno’s pieces into a little book called Fighting the Noonday Devil – and Other Essays Personal and [Read More…]

The Essayist

Sitting next to my reading chair are a few books that never change, and one of them is Michel Montaigne’s famous The Complete Works (Everyman’s Library). He is, by most accounts, the one to whom many point to explain the nature of the personal essay, my favorite genre to read. Montaigne was, above all, self-reflective [Read More…]

Shauna Niequist: Enough

Shauna, author of the fine memoir Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, writes a post about not being able to get pregnant and the pain it has caused her. She writes here of some raw emotions, and I think we could have a valuable conversation about responses to pregnancy: What are [Read More…]

The Magic of Thomas Howard

I wish I could tell you that I have been a long-time reader of Thomas Howard. I can’t. Discovering his absolutely splendid The Night is Far Spent filled my Easter weekend and occasional moments with joy, insight, ruminations, and pleasure in his delightful prose. [Read more…]

How Healthy is Ice Cream?

Now before I go any further to state my view on this, let it be known that my kind of doctorate is, as one pastor once introduced me before a Sunday morning sermon, “not the kind that does anybody any good.” Indeed. So, I stand here with Anne Fadiman who, in At Large and At [Read More…]

Anne, Hang on!

At one point in the history of writing this blog, I thought I’d do a series on my favorite essayists. I think the series got off the ground with my favorite essayist and then fizzled: Joseph Epstein. I suppose it is a mistake to begin with the best. For years I devoured The American Scholar [Read More…]

Essays and Essayists

James Vanoosting, in the introduction And the Flesh Became Word, says something that struck my inner chords: “Given half a chance, I’ll write an essay before a book, after a book, between books, and (my favorite) instead of a book.” There’s a man after my own heart. In fact, a man who seems to have [Read More…]

Why “Labor” Day?

I’m sitting here this morning trying to figure out why we call today “Labor” Day. A quick glance through Wikipedia’s entries on “Labour Day“, reveals that Labor Day is connected to the celebration of the contribution of workers to our world. But, I’m trying to figure out what in my life is so “laborious.” [Read more…]