The People I Don’t Learn to Love


After reading my essay on "Both/And Philanthropy," one of my friends told me that there was something I was leaving out of my hybrid approach.  Here's how I said that I balance attentiveness to material and spiritual goods: And when it comes to the fundamental divide between Beer and MacAskill, for my own part, I like to hybridize their global vs local approaches. When I have the opportunity to do something for someone close to me (e.g. defraying a friend-of-a-friend’s medical costs, donating to … [Read more...]

Offering Magpie Prayers to God at First Things

first things talk

When Arriving at Amen, my book on learning to pray, came out, I gave a talk on some of the unexpected ways I found to reach out to God (Fermat's Little Theorem, people mummified in honey, etc).  First Things has just made the video available, if you'd like to check it out![The video isn't embeddable, but if you click, it will open in a new tab]And this seems like a good time to share one of the recent reader reviews of Arriving at Amen that I really enjoyed receiving: Leah Libresco i … [Read more...]

Building a Both/And Philanthropy

charity books

Over at Fare Forward, I'm doing a paired review of Jeremy Beer's The Philanthropic Revolution: An Alternative History of American Charity and Will MacAskill's Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference and talking about how to balance the spiritual and material goals of charity.Reading the two books side by side, it’s clear MacAskill wouldn’t dispute some of the charges that Beer lays to his account. Beer endorses local charities, which can best further what he s … [Read more...]

7QT: Drunk Historians, Silly Bodybuilders, Clever Proofs


--- 1 --- I've usually avoided Drunk History (a show where heavily in their cups historians summarize a notable life or event, and then have their garbled retellings reenacted by actors) because I saw an episode that involved vomiting, which I'd prefer not to see.But this episode about Harriet Tubman's in the Civil War (about which I knew nothing, and in which she's played by Octavia Spencer) is excellent (and involves no sickness at all, no promises if you check out other … [Read more...]

How To Offer Community Without Communion


I'm over at First Things today, talking about why people may want to drop barriers to Communion out of fear of excluding the people who most need strength and support, and offering suggestions for other ways to see, know, and love our pewmates:Communion is often the sign of acceptance that people seek—not just because it’s at the heart of the faith, but because it may be the only form of love that people know how to ask for or see offered at their parish. In many parishes, it’s easy to atten … [Read more...]

Extending Family and Keeping an Honorary Aunt in your Basement

(mrsapplegate / flickr)

I love this essay by Mikkee Hall ("Why I moved 1,600 miles to live downstairs from my godchildren") on expanding families and supporting unusual vocations to love in the Washington Post.As I hit my mid-30s, I knew it was time to make a radical change. So when my best friend and her husband moved their family of six to Denver, I packed up what would fit in my car, sold the rest and joined them to live in their basement. [...] I live in my friends’ basement apartment with the sounds of four y … [Read more...]

How Do You Lance A Festering Resentment?


I'm curious what readers (religious or not) wind up doing when you're frustrated by/or angry at someone.  I've just been reading Letters to a Beginner: On Giving One's Life To God by Abbess Thaisia of Leushino and she writes sharply against idle talk and gossip: It begins under the pretext of conversing, of discussing some business, but then we proceed imperceptibly to an altogether unnecessary, empty, and sinful conversation.  Like a deeply-rooted infection, this sickness does not easily sub … [Read more...]