Monthly Archives: May 2017

Ramadan Came to the Heart’s Temple

In this poem Rumi captures the meaning of Ramadan, which began this past week. Although the fasting causes stress, that only serves to cleanse the body and liberate “the invisible treasure of the heart.”

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Surrendering to the Air

As I zip-lined in the Smokies, I thought of the concluding paragraph of Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon.”

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Grendel Evil vs. Beowulf’s Strength of Mind

The Manchester bombing sends us, as previous mass killings have done, to “Beowulf.” Perhaps no work of literature better captures the monstrosity of angry resentment. Fortunately, Manchester is responding with its version of Beowulf’s iron resolve.

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The Book Apothecary Has What You Need

Nina George’s “Little Paris Bookshop” has a great premise: a “book apothecary” diagnoses the souls of his customers and prescribes the perfect book. In my experience, matching books with readers is a more hit and miss affair.

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Something Rotten in the States of America

There is something rotten in Denmark and something rotten in the White House. The parallels between “Hamlet” and Trumpism are considerable.

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My Teaching Mission: Keeping It Real

In which I reflect back upon my teaching career and focusing on my students “keeping it real.”

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A Comforter to Guide Us in All Truth

Jesus’s promise to his disciples, to send them “another advocate with the father,” is picked up by a disheartened Milton as he seeks to justify the ways of God to man–and to himself.

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Pratchett’s Strong Case for Diversity

Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasy Discworld books culminated in the introduction of the railway in his final novel. Pratchett is an effective advocate for a post-modern, multicultural world.

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The Fires and the Black River of Loss

We recently held a memorial service for my dear friend and colleague Kate Chandler. I read from some of Kate’s eloquent nature writings and concluded with a Mary Oliver poem.

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T. S. Eliot, Hope for the Suicidal

In a guest post, novelist Lauren B. Davis draws on Eliot’s “Waste Land” and “Four Quartets” to deal with the suicides of her two brothers and find a way forward.

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Maybe Ryan Sees Trump as John Galt

If Paul Ryan refuses to stand up to Donald Trump, it may be because he worships him as a John Galt figure.

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GOP Plays the Sap for Trump

The ties to Russia involving Donald Trump and his associates are like the many reasons that Sam Spade has for finding Brigid O’Shaughnessy guilty in “The Maltese Falcon”: “Maybe some of them are unimportant. I won’t argue about that. But look at the number of them.”

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Only after Pain Comes Life

For Mother’s Day, here’s a Madeleine L’Engle poem about Jesus’s mother experiencing the crucifixion and then the resurrection. In it we see both the joys and the heartbreak that come with an unconditional mother’s love.

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Commencement à la Wordsworth

Tomorrow our students graduate and they will sing a school song that draws heavily on Wordsworth. The song also has an unexpected twist not intended by the author that always gets a laugh.

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Trump’s Latest Queen of Hearts Beheading

Donald Trump is starting to resemble the Queen of Hearts with all the figures that he has fired, most recently FBI director James Comey. We must stand up to the Queen as Alice does.

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Ivanka Doesn’t Understand “Beloved”

When Ivanka Trump quotes Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” in her recent book, she does everything I tell my students not to: she reduces the work to herself.

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Using Doublethink To Sell Trumpcare

House Republicans appear to be using Doublethink to sell their healthcare plan. If it works, there will be no stopping them.

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From Wycherley to Crazy, Stupid, Love

In my “Restoration and 18th Century Couples Comedy” class, my students paired old rom-coms with contemporary films, including “Ten Things I Hate about You,” “How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, “Friends with Benefits,” and others.

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The Third Who Walks Always Beside You

Rowan Williams has a powerful poem about the Road to Emmaus in which he tries to capture the tangible-yet-intangible quality of Jesus in our lives. He may be dialoguing with T. S. Eliot’s own use of the episode in “The Waste Land.”

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Most Impactful Books for Every Country

For fun, someone has created a map in which the most impactful works of literature are shown for almost every country in the world. Many of the selections are debatable but the map is good for starting conversations.

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Disability: Assemble Me Piece by Piece

Allison Barrett, a St. Mary’s College of Maryland senior, shares her senior project presentation, which includes poetry and creative non-fiction to capture the experience of a disabled or non-neurotypical woman.

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Swift’s Popularity with Today’s Students

Students crowded into the gym to listen to the publisher of “The Onion.” It is therefore not surprising that they are also responding enthusiastically to Jonathan Swift. I share some of their thoughts on the satirist in today’s post.

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Jane Eyre, Still Groundbreaking

In her senior project, one of my students looked at four film adaptations of “Jane Eyre” and concluded that Bronte’s novel is more radical than all but one of them.

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Berry Chooses Hope over Despair

Wendell Berry “A Vision” could serve as the guiding star for the environmental movement. He sees a world with clean rivers, thick forests, and clean sky as “no paradisal dream,” even as he acknowledges the difficult challenges ahead.

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