July 21, 2020

Last Wednesday, after three delays (one our fault, two their fault), our house got a new hat. We have known for a couple of years that our roof needed to be replaced. We bought the house 24 years ago; the roof had been replaced the year before we purchased the house, so this was a first-time experience for us. Upon hearing about the event, a friend posted on Facebook that getting a new roof is like getting new tires on… Read more

July 19, 2020

How is your optimism doing these days? I am an optimist by nature, not inclined to worrying, and unlikely to stress unnecessarily over things I can’t control. But even for people such as I, it’s becoming more and more difficult to sustain optimism in these challenging times. COVID-19, Donald Trump (what if he gets re-elected?), people for whom wearing a mask is too inconvenient to consider, global warming, white evangelical Christians, having no idea how I will be delivering my… Read more

July 16, 2020

With Donald Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence last week, we are reminded once again that this President uses executive power differently than other Presidents have, differently than the framers of the Constitution arguably intended. In the Stone case, the President commuted the sentence of a man convicted and sentenced for lying under oath to protect the very President who commuted his sentence. The President’s clemency power is supposed to exist solely to protect the national interest. In The… Read more

July 15, 2020

A very good friend of mine, a man whom I only knew for the final six or seven years of his life, died five years ago today. I learned a lot from him; he is still a very real presence in my life. Here is what I wrote in tribute to Ivan Kauffman on the day of his funeral in late July 2015. Monday morning–early. The 30th Street Amtrak station in Philadelphia is not the sort of place I normally find… Read more

July 14, 2020

A recent edition of The New Yorker had a timely cartoon on the back page. Two mourners are at a funeral home standing in front of the recently deceased’s open coffin. In the coffin is the Grim Reaper, complete with black hood and skeletal hands clutching his scythe. The caption reads: “I was hoping taxes would go first.” But they didn’t, and Tax Day is upon us–tomorrow. Thanks to COVID-19 and related matters, it is three months later than usual, something that… Read more

July 12, 2020

This morning I have the privilege of giving the sermon at Trinity Episcopal Church in Pawtuxet, RI (outside, wearing masks and properly distanced, of course). This is what I will be saying. When it comes to social media, I limit myself to Facebook and Twitter. Twitter is mostly for sports (and the occasional snarky political comment), while Facebook is for blog traffic, staying connected with family, and making new friends (mostly through my blog). But I do send my blog… Read more

July 9, 2020

I’m in the early stages this summer of working on my next book project—a memoirish book with the tentative title Nice Work If You Can Get It. The project has not advanced as far as I had thought it would have by now, but hey—it’s only July. Jeanne has reminded me several times that this book will need to include a chapter or two on teaching during COVID-19, and she’s right. The problem is that even though, along with thousands… Read more

July 7, 2020

Two summers ago, Jeanne and I took our first honest-to-God vacation in our thirty-plus years together. We went to Scotland for nine days, the first time that we had ever gone on a vacation that did not involve seeing family, squeezing in a work conference, or some other justification for simply taking a break. We simply picked a place—Scotland—and went. We had such a wonderful time that, even before we returned home, we were planning the next time that we… Read more

July 5, 2020

Teaching for twenty-five years in an interdisciplinary program with colleagues from a multitude of disciplines has provided me with the best that academe can offer a professor—a continuing education. In an academic world which so often demands narrower and narrower research focus and specialization from its members, it has been a gift to spend the majority of my career thus far at a place that welcomes breadth and encourages—and sometimes requires—its faculty to regularly wander outside their comfort zone in… Read more

July 3, 2020

Every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig-tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. George Washington, Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, RI Tomorrow is Independence Day—in most parts of the country, it will be a 4th without huge fireworks displays, with closed beaches and constant reminders that things have been, currently are, and for the foreseeable future will be very different than what we expect and hope for. I’m reminded of something Jeanne… Read more




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