The one thing kids need to hear most from their dads

I read a story yesterday that drilled right through me. It's from a letter Montaigne wrote to a neighbor about the love fathers show toward their children. The excerpt is long. Forgive me in advance. You'll thank me when it's done:After the late Marshal de Monluc lost his son . . . he used to stress greatly to me, among his other regrets, the sorrow and heartbreak he felt for never having opened up to him. He had lost, he said, by that habit of paternal gravity and stiffness, the comfort … [Read more...]

The books you come back to

The books you come back to

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about books you come back to, books you re-read, books that become as familiar as old jeans. For him it was Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. You could hear the joy in his voice as he talked. He said I should read it and offered to buy the copy from me if I didn't like it -- sort of a money-back guarantee. … [Read more...]

How to avoid ineffectual prayers

St. James the Less

James, the brother of Jesus, was serious about his prayer. He used to go to the temple and kneel in prayer so often and for so long that his knees were reputed to be as calloused and tough as a camel’s. He was bishop of Jerusalem then and was martyred several years before the temple was ultimately destroyed, but as long as he had life he could be found, as one ancient writer put it, “bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people.”Given his intense practice, it c … [Read more...]

What goes into a man

What Goes Into a Man

It’s no small mercy that one of the most elevated human undertakings can occur during one of the most humbling. Yes, I’m talking about reading on the john.Stop blushing. You know you do it. Everyone does. I only wonder if we’re maximizing the experience. … [Read more...]

Don’t write edifying fiction

Edifying fiction

Here's a fact: The way to write edifying fiction is to write what is. Here's another: The way to write bad fiction is to write what is edifying.I just read a line by Flannery O'Connor in Mystery and Manners that explains why this is so: "what is written to edify usually ends by amusing." The word "amusing" is what triggered the realization. Humor is often produced by incongruity, contradiction, and paradox. The fool is comic because man is not supposed to be foolish. The wise man is good for … [Read more...]


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