Monthly Archives: September 2017

Dissolving into the Glories of the Sun

Andrew Marvell’s “On a Drop of Dew” compares the soul’s visit to the earth realm to a dew drop. In the process, he references the manna in the wilderness, today’s Old Testament reading.

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How Tolstoy Would Judge Jeff Sessions

Leo Tolstoy, who calls out public officials who abuse the public trust, would have choice words for the American attorney general.

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Famous Physicians to the Rescue

Thursday I’m back home after a scare. As I reported yesterday, I was flown to the MedStar Washington Hospital Tuesday afternoon because the doctors feared I was having a heart attack. Once there, however, I learned that I had pericarditis, which they treated and then sent me home 24 hours later. I am tired but […]

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The Crushing Pain of a Heart Episode

Giles Corey from “The Crucible” came to mind when I started experiencing what felt like a heart attack. I’ve been admitted to Washington Hospital Center, but they now think it’s something less drastic (!).

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Handmaid’s Emmy, A Sign of Its Urgency

The Emmys signaled that “Handmaid’s Tale” is as relevant as ever as America’s misogyny deepens. So is Euripides’s “The Bacchae.”

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No Miss Havisham for Hillary

In her account of the 2016 election aftermath, Hillary Clinton resolved not to become a Miss Havisham. This is testimony to her depth of soul.

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Rosh Hashanah: How To Make It New

Spiritual Sunday – Rosh Hashanah Rosh Hashanah begins on Tuesday, giving me an excuse to share this stimulating poem by Rachel Barenblat, keeper of the wonderfully named Velveteen Rabbi blog. The Jewish New Year, as you probably know, celebrates the day of creation, and people take the opportunity to examine their lives over the past year and repent. […]

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Murakami Explains Lure of Fascism

Murakami’s “Wild Sheep Chase” helps explain why young men are drawn to fascism, as we saw in Charlottesville.

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What Our Favorite Books Reveal about Us

I am having my students compose personal reading histories. Freud provides a useful framework for exploring anxieties and wishes.

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Anger in Ancient Greek Works

A new book looks at how the ancient Greeks approached the issue of anger in works such as “Iliad,” “Ajax,” and “Hecuba.

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Worshipping Our Lord, the Dollar

Trump is a believer in prosperity theology, which made the news after a Houston pastor initially refused to do more than pray for flood victims. Tolstoy in “Resurrection” has choice words for such men.

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Irma as Milton’s & Dante’s Infernos

If one thinks of a hurricane “eye” as an anus, then the winds from hell take on a different resonance–especially when seen through Milton’s and Dante’s eyes.

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Prayer for My Granddaughters

As Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida after having devastated several islands, I find myself delivering up Yeats’s “Prayer for My Daughter.”

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Reasons to Read

Will Schwalbe, author of “Books for Living,” has a great list of reasons to read.

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DACA Kids, Back to the Shadows?

“Invisible Man,” with its protagonist moving in and out of shadows, is all too relevant as the Trump administration threatens to deport the DACA kids.

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Kingsolver Explains Climate Denial

Rush Limbaugh has been calling Hurricanes Harvey and Irma liberal conspiracies. In “Flight Behavior,” Barbara Kingsolver shows the dangerous impact of such pronouncements.

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What Tennis Meant to Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy picked up tennis late in life, even though at one point seeing it as symbolic of bourgeois decadence. A look at the novel “Resurrection” explains why he changed.

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“Find Work,” an Answer to Every Grief?

Rhina P. Espaillat captures the ambivalent nature of work in the poem posted for Labor Day. It can be ennobling but too much emphasis on it can rob us of our humanity.

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A Blessing We Cannot Begin To Fathom

Jan Richardson reminds readers not to offer facile rationalizations to those who have lost loved ones. She also reassures that the heart a “stubborn and persistent pulse.”

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Great Lit Changes Expectations Horizons

Hans Robert Jauss’s believes that great literature changes horizons of expectation whereas lesser lit simply confirms them. If “Madame Bovary” was brought to trial, Jauss says, it is because it charted a new course in literary history that people didn’t understand.

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