Marilynne Robinson on politics: “the cheapest intellectual environment that you can enter into.”

Marilynne Robinson at Calvin College, 2012. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

People of every faith and no faith at all respect Marilynne Robinson's formidable intellect, creative brilliance, and, I daresay, the sheer beauty of her vision.Those who have delved into her nonfiction know that she is an astute reader of primary sources and highly skilled at separating the accumulated reputations of, say, the Puritans, from the work and legacy for which they might more fairly and reasonably be remembered.Robinson is also a favorite of Christian liberals, even … [Read more...]

Marilynne Robinson on faith and fear (& how we can be free not to worry)

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It'll sound like I am joking but I'm not: I was worried about reading this book about worry.Maybe it was the subtitle that had me most worried, partly because it touches a nerve -- I know that it is possible to "choose faith in a world full of worry" but it's a lot easier to return like a dog to the chew the old, tired bone of worry. In true worrywart fashion, I feel that adequately worrying my way through my litany of worries galvanizes me against the possibility of the things I worry … [Read more...]

Why a former exotic dancer says its not up to Christians to say “go and sin no more.”

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Anny Donewald lived her young life in the spotlight. Her dad was a well-known college NCAA basketball coach.When one of the players began sexually abusing Anny at the age of 13, part of her soul withered. She had been confident, athletic, and musical. By age 19, she was working as an exotic dancer and high-end prostitute.Today she offers hope to girls and women who are, as she says, living in hell, through her nonprofit organization, Eve's Angels. They don't just stand outside strip … [Read more...]

The ordinary suffering of animals and the (extra-)ordinary radicals who do something about it.

Photo credit: Rudy Giron via

Anyone who has spent more than just a little time in a very poor country has seen the sad sight of starving domestic animals. Mother cats with kittens, nearly grown but still yearning to suck, rangy and hungry and not too wild to beg from human passersby. I wept for the dogs I saw in villages in the hungry months before harvest, sides caved in and ribs visible for the counting.Animals, my friend Mel once commented, don't seem to be part of the sin and corruption that makes this world what it … [Read more...]

What happened when a self-declared dog-despiser accidentally adopted a Pit Bull


Another guest post by my wonderful dad, written when Gracie-the-dog died more than twelve years ago. She was a good dog.The sign is what finally did it.  Day in and day out, week after week, its message insidiously worked its way into my brain until one day I could no longer offer any resistance.  Many of you will remember the sign.  Perhaps some of you happily fell victim to it as well.It was a large stuffed dog, situated along the Main Road in Southold.  Attached to it was a sim … [Read more...]

R.C. Sproul, Jr. : “a beard is a revolution on the face,” a “radical affirmation” of gender norms


So this happened, merely the latest installment in the collection of "dumb patriarchalist sh*t Christian dudes say in order to rally the base and annoy those who already find them annoying." (What? You don't know this collection? It has a venerable history.)\Even better is the Christian Hipster Magazine RELEVANT chiming in to ASK, in a headline, HOW R.C. Sproul, Jr., feels about beards. (You need to ask? Isn't it pretty clear that they are absolutely definitive markers of … [Read more...]

The Best Pumpkin Spice Brownies You Will Ever Bake

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When did pumpkin spice everything become such a THING? I don't remember it happening, but that doesn't mean I don't still love the warm and heady spices that go into pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie itself? Not such a fan.Pumpkin spices + real pumpkin + chocolate? Yes please.That's what we have going on here: chewy pumpkin spice 'brownies.' They're actually more like blondies with pumpkin, dotted with chocolate chips. But let's call them brownies anyway. I first made these … [Read more...]

The Most Stunning Children’s Bible — That’s No Longer in Print (But Should Be)

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There is an appealing, almost haunting spareness to the Taize Picture Bible (1968) in both word and image. Published in the USA by Fortress Press (mine is a fourth edition, 1978), the “note to readers” says “The guiding editorial policy in this adaptation has been to facilitate understanding by readers of many age levels while remaining faithful to the words and meaning of the Biblical text.” There is nothing prettified or cutesy about the images or the storytelling in this book. In fact there’ … [Read more...]

The Things We Can’t — and Shouldn’t — Make Our Children Do

original cartoon courtesy Tom LaMothe

 When I was pregnant with our first child there were so many things I wondered and hoped. I hoped that we would like each other. That he would be interested in the world and that we would have at least some things in common. And I hoped he would like books. Like me."Don't worry," my husband said. "He will like what he likes."There was just so much uncertainty and so little control. I kind of hated that.We do indeed parent in the "age of anxiety." We worry … [Read more...]

A Veteran’s Plea: Patriotism is Not a Tea Party. Neither is a Funeral.

Age 22 -- after 4.5 years of active duty and still so baby-faced!

A powerful guest post by my dad.Some time back, I joined  a nonprofit organization that aims to ensure dignity and respect at memorial services for veterans. Among other things, they organize human shields against the Westboro loonies. Those Westboro folks have never been a problem where I live (I like to think they don’t have the guts to come to my state!), but the nonprofit does other things to support veterans and their families, and that appeals to me very much.I'm not really much of … [Read more...]