September 14, 2022

Pets are becoming the center of custody struggles among divorcing couples. That’s been happening for awhile, of course. This principally involves childless couples; I would imagine any pets go with the children otherwise. But the big mêlée I read about was featured in a New York Post 2013  article involving  a lesbian couple fighting over a miniature dachshund. One woman bought the dog as a consolation gift for the other after having insisted that her partner dispose of her  cat.... Read more

August 10, 2022

When I was a Lutheran seminarian we rarely looked at the Church Fathers, almost never. So it was not surprising when a Lutheran bishop, slated to preach on the feast day of the Cappadocian Fathers before a Lutheran gathering of pastors who had invited him, opened his remarks saying he literally did not know who they were, but he’d make the best of it anyway. He should have read Rod Bennett’s two books (Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her... Read more

March 28, 2022

The case of Norman Cousins has always fascinated me. Long editor of the (alas) defunct Saturday Review, in 1965 Cousins was told he had but a few months to live due to an especially virulent variety of arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative disease causing the breakdown of collagen. He promptly scrapped his gloomy doctor, found another to his liking, and undertook his own recovery. Along with self-administering huge doses of vitamin C, he equally injected heavy doses of humor, the belly laugh sort... Read more

November 9, 2021

There are people living in Sharpsburg, Maryland, so I’ve read, who “can tell you everything about the battle as if it happened to them.” The man who said that was referring to the descendants (he was one of them) of those ― eight generations previously in September 1862 ― who found themselves swept up in the great Battle of Antietam Creek (or the Battle of Sharpsburg as named by Southerners). One single day of fighting resulted in 23,000 dead, wounded and... Read more

July 16, 2021

My mother died with dementia. She didn’t know her husband, her grandchildren, her name, and she didn’t know me, her only child. Shortly after Christmas 2010 her hip fractured, dropped her on the floor and sent her to the hospital. Though the hip replacement operation was a success, to the extent the bones were screwed together, she emerged from anesthesia with far greater confusion than before. This happens frequently to the elderly. She died roughly 90 days post-surgery, which is not... Read more

September 8, 2020

By my count there are only three Jesuits featured in science fiction literature: a biologist, a linguist, and an astrophysicist, and each jettisons his spirituality, even his faith, and one goes heretic. Not a good record, but it is only fiction. (If there are more Jesuits in space, let me know.) The authors draw their characters sympathetically with sensitivity; these guys are priests. Yet for each in these stories there is, well, something untimely missing: a solidity of faith and... Read more

June 29, 2020

Like blind dates, extraterrestrials can be such jerks. Two British astrophysicists at the University of Nottingham, England, Tom Westby and Christopher J. Conselice, recently sifted their way through the Milky Way and discovered, they estimate, no more than 36 alien civilizations are presently capable of electromagnetic (radio) communication. They do admit that if they had sorted things from a slightly different direction the number might get raised to a bit under a thousand. Chintzy isn’t the word for it, compared to the... Read more

February 28, 2020

Father Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009) In 2007 I and my wife were having dinner with Richard Neuhaus. He had spoken the night before at a dinner at Immanuel Lutheran Church, at 88th and Lexington.  The dinner marked my retirement after seventeen years as editor of Forum Letter, an independent Lutheran publication that he had edited for sixteen years before nominating me as his successor. That is how I met him.  I found Forum Letter as a 1976 first-year Lutheran seminarian... Read more

February 20, 2020

A diabetic insulin reaction – low blood-sugar – induced a waking dream some nights ago. I was only was half-awake, perhaps half unconsciousness. I felt gauzy, detached; chimerical even. I was not uncomfortable. That was the problem. An insulin reaction usually is very uncomfortable until under control. I wondered why this one felt so different. Blood-sugar reactions will typically send me and any other still-living diabetic into a panicked search for the nearest stash of carbohydrates. A carbohydrate infusion –... Read more

February 7, 2020

I’ve recently watched a few reruns of the Doomsday Preppers episodes from National Geographic, seven years old now. The coronavirus brought the series back to mind. The 1918 flu pandemic killed perhaps 1% of those infected, resulting worldwide in about 50 to 100 million deaths (3% to 6% of world’s population then); 675,000 Americans were among them. U.S. life expectancy dropped by 12 years during the year of the pandemic. The new virus’ mortality may be about 2 to 3... Read more

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