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July 1, 2018

If you pay attention, America can be hard to love. As a society, we have such odd and unique obsessions: we fetishize guns not as tools but as idols. We downplay horrors that don’t fit our political fantasies. We drink in rage like cheap booze. Collectively, we are far too racist, too self-centered, too focused on the needs of the white and the rich. We are often not open to constructive criticism. We deny our history. We minimize the sufferings… Read more

June 27, 2018

Donald Hall was the first poet I ever wrote to. He passed away on June 23. I was thirteen at the time and I wrote him a letter saying how much I admired his poem “Letter with No Address.” The poem deals with the death of his wife Jane Kenyon who died far too young from Leukemia. It was published in Ploughshares and was one of the major poems in the stunning collection Without. It is an inelegant poem. It is… Read more

June 21, 2018

Though for most of my life I was a night owl, since I became a parent, I have had to get up earlier and earlier to sneak more productive hours into the day. Mornings are sacred times. Not just for prayer but for a rich stillness that inspires. Even if you stare at your phone or linger in your inbox too long, it hardly matters at 5am: few people are up early enough to cause trouble. When I think of… Read more

June 15, 2018

I have often taught Saint Paul’s Letters. Paul is popular among philosophers and literary theorists even if he is rarely read in his original context. Alain Badiou wrote on Paul and the foundations of universalism in a quite famous text and I have met many learned folks over the years whose knowledge of Paul begins and ends there. Yet finding a Paul in one’s own philosophical image is nothing new and we see it on display this week in the… Read more

June 12, 2018

It is late spring still. So much of the news has been bad. The natural world around us here in Connecticut is beautiful, but global melancholy can interrupt local joys. This is the first year in which I attempted to make vin d’orange. It’s a wine made from rosé wine, vodka, sugar, and sour oranges. In February, when the oranges are in season, you store this mix in a big glass vat for a month before transferring it to bottles…. Read more

June 10, 2018

So we are not quite into summer yet, but it’s just around the corner. Outdoor neighborhood parties are starting. The local pool is open and the kids swim and play themselves into exhaustion with their friends. Then, tired and sun-soaked, they settle in for a movie. After all these kids movies, I decided it was time to re-watch two favorites now that they’re streaming: Lady Bird and I, Tonya. Both are only good for when the kids are in bed…. Read more

June 9, 2018

This week we were stunned by the suicides of both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. These successful lives cut short remind us that even in success and creative power, there can be crippling depression. On a much larger scale, we hear that our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico suffer from greatly elevated levels of mental illness in the wake of last season’s hurricanes. An NPR story describes efforts to stop the increases in depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicide. The overall mood of… Read more

June 7, 2018

It’s a humid day here in Connecticut, warmer than expected. Weeks of frequent rain have left everything green and overgrown. Natural beauty is hard to compete with. Growing up in a working class city not too far from Concord, MA, I grew up reading Emerson’s essays alongside Dickinson and William Cullen Bryant, writers who all turned to nature To refresh their spirit and to know God. Not the God of strict doctrinaire thinking, but a transcendent spirit. For many American… Read more

June 5, 2018

Augustine is one of those sources that you can’t help but turn to again and again in spiritual life. Catholic and Protestant arguments during the Reformation drew from Augustines’s work. He contains multitudes and yet his sentences can be so simple. “Magnus es, Domine,” You are great, Lord begins a work of monumental philosophical and devotional sophistication. Augustine know that reading is only worthwhile when it works toward particular truths. When Augustine struggled to become Catholic, it was not out… Read more

June 1, 2018

Reading exists as much in our fantasy lives as it does in our routine. How many of us gather books in our house picturing the scene when we’ll finally read them: a cozy spot in the house, out by the deck, in the garden, on the train? How often do these books lie unread? Let’s give thanks for the unread books in our lives, the joy they bring and the possibilities they carry into your lives. From a Catholic perspective,… Read more


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