In Praise of Cigarettes

I begin with a generous pinch of finely cut tobacco, cradled inside a creased, rectangular sheet of paper, with a thin stripe of glue affixed to the outer edge that faces me. A tiny tobacco envelope. I massage back-and-forth between thumbs and forefingers until the tobacco shrinks into a tight cylindrical bundle. Roll, pinch, roll some more. Stop. Lick and press to seal; shape and trim; flame and light. Inhale, ingest, exhale."But cigarettes are disgusting!""Don't you know cigarettes are bad … [Read more...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles, Part III

Part I Part IIThe opening details are mostly unimportant. The hiring process was convoluted and indirect. I quit my job at Target to work closer to where we lived, working on an IT project for Medtronic Corporation, as a consultant for another middle-man corporation. I had to get hired by both of them. Still an hourly employee, but making ten dollars more per hour. My official title, which I only learned after a week or two on the job, was something along the lines of a "coordinator." Most of … [Read more...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles, Part II

Part I.Bilingual Benefits Representative. That seemed pretty good. What was it? Target Corporation, corporate headquarters. Sounded important enough. Fourteen dollars an hour, plus ten percent off at Target stores and lots of perks to rent limousines and go watch WMBA games. (I did both.) I was teaching Spanish. 26k a year before deductions. With my commute and everything else I was beginning to feel like Tolstoy's Ivan Ilych: underpaid and under-appreciated. Unlike Ilych, I actually was being … [Read more...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles, Part I

I was first assigned to the beam-cutting station, but I asked to be reassigned. I wanted to weld. It seemed honorable and I wanted to be somebody. But I guess no ones asks to be a welder once they get to the cutting stations. I was given the materials: gloves, sleeves, apron, mask. I needed boots. No tennis shoes. I don't recall the details or the exact time, but I passed an initial inspection of some kind. I was first assigned to be a go-fer, which sucked. I took naps and wasted a lot of time. … [Read more...]

New Year’s Eve

I spent New Year's Eve with a buddy from college. We weren't super close while enrolled, but we knew each other. He was a little older and I had a bad reputation. We somehow ended up in the Twin Cities afterwards and became good friends. I sang and played at his wedding, we recorded music together and played terrible golf at a nine-hole course. He's a genius or something --- understands how things work and can replicate that sense of things in craftwork, computation, and the fine arts. He … [Read more...]

Would you subscribe to an e-mail? Should you pay for it?**

In the early nineties, my Father started a non-profit organization to support our family's ministry. Missionary Ark for Families. It was our sole source of income for six or seven years in Lorain, Ohio and Reynosa, Mexico. My Mom and Dad would put together a monthly newsletter and send it out, with pictures and some stories and updates. We received monthly donations by mail. While living in Mexico we had a post office box in Hidalgo, Texas, just over the border. I loved to go to there to raid … [Read more...]

Education, The Craft of Desire

There is a universal and inextricable relationship between desire and belief.This relationship contains and reveals the natural, religious, and erotic order of things.It is no surprise, then, that New Atheists are today's fiercest defenders of religious belief in their evangelical zeal, straw-man debates, and group therapy sessions. Echo chambers.No, I'm not going to spell this out to the predictably irritable vigilantes out there.I simply want to point out two well-known facts about … [Read more...]

The Holy Family: A Portrait of Humility**

On today's Feast of the Holy Family we hear a story about parents losing their only child. Not for a few minutes or even a couple of hours: Mary and Joseph lose Jesus for days. How delightful!The Church draws our attention to a wonderfully confusing scene, where a frustrated Mary asks "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." To this agitated question, the child Jesus poses another question --- "Why were you looking for me?"Why were y … [Read more...]

The Culture Wars Are Over

It began when a mostly intelligent, cheeky, and sometimes rabble-rousing group of students I befriended at Wabash College found themselves short on fresh ingredients. Their publication, The Wabash Commentary, was born from the conservative side of the culture wars, the attempted counter-reformation to the 60's and 70's. Of course, at Wabash, an all-male liberal arts college founded in 1832, things were running a decade and a half behind --- and I consider this proclivity towards t … [Read more...]

The Sacred Excess of Christmas

Dear Fellow Catholics,Merry Christmas! Cristus natus est!It's party time. A time to feast and laugh and sing and make merry.A time to forgive debts and loosen belts. A generous time. A time to give and receive.There is a rigor to this holy season. It's a twelve day party. Stamina and grace are key. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Christmas is not a single day; it is plural. A season that began on the Feast of the Nativity and will continue until Epiphany.Are you prepared? Pre … [Read more...]


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