Monthly Archives: April 2018

A River Poem in Memory of My Son

Poetry cannot bring back a son one has lost but it can capture his beauty, as this Jeanne Vote lyric does.

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Islamic Philosophy vs. Muslim Fanatics

In his fantasy novel “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights,” Salman Rushdie engaged in a debate within Islam about Reason vs. Faith. Good and bad jinn weigh in on each side.

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Remembering Rachel: Joyous, Pulsing

In a memorial service for my friend Rachel Kranz, I will talk about what her novels reveal about her.

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D. H. Lawrence: People in Thrall to Things

D. H. Lawrence’s story “Things” features, among other things, a returning ex-pat couple trying to figure out what to do with all their things. I’m currently sympathetic with their predicament.

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Jane Austen Explains Mansplaining

Jane Austen understood mansplaining very well. “Northanger Abbey” provides a case study.

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Caught in a Town’s Suffocating Embrace

A student experiencing difficulty leaving rural Maryland, where she grew up, found her dilemma captured in “100 Years of Solitude.”

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Filling Our Houses with Stuff

As I sort through decades of clutter in preparation to move to a smaller home, I am reminded of L. Frank Baum’s Oz book about bric-a-brac.

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You Must Sit Down, Says Love

Psalm 23 has an image which may help power one of George Herbert’s most beloved poems.

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Comey vs. Trump, Two Alpha Dogs

James Comey is right to fight for American justice against Donald Trump but his male pride helped get Trump elected. Toni Morrison describes the dynamics in “Song of Solomon.”

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Food Is More Than Food for Esquivel

Esquivel captures the greater significance of food in “Like Water for Chocolate.” I also share a whiskey cake recipe and reflect on the magic in magical realism.

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A Public Liberal Arts Education

In which I assess what my students have gained from having attended a public liberal arts college.

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The Dark Jinn Invade America

Salman Rushdie’s “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” helps explain how Trump came to power. Blame it on a longing for dark fantasy.

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My “Last Lecture”

I share here my “last lecture” from my retirement ceremony. (But rest assured: I will not be retiring from this blog.)

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When Science Clips an Angel’s Wings

Scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins disagrees with Keats and Poe in their attacks on science. I think he loses the argument.

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Senior Projects and Alice’s Rabbit Hole

I compare senior theses to Alice falling down a rabbit hole. But not in the way you think.

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Literature Has Paul Ryan’s Number

Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Chinua Achebe, John Milton, and Thomas Hardy see through men like departing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

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Ferreting Out White House Corruption

Salman Rushdie’s fantasy about genii attacking the earth contains a fantasy that is very topical: a “storm baby” who can root out graft.

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The Stories We Tell Our Robots

My sons have a podcast–“The Stories We Tell Our Robots”–which links literature with such developments as bitcoin, chatbots, airline pricing, and the like. Their rating system ranges from utopia to apocalypse.

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Reading, Better than Juvie

When high school vandals defaced a historic black church, an enlightened judge ordered them to read books and report on them.

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A Vast Unfolding Design Lit by a Risen Sun

Denise Levertov’s magnificent poem about Doubting Thomas graphically describes the doubts, making the final revelation all the more powerful.

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Weather Report: Death’s Untimely Frost

Having winter intrude upon our spring has me quoting Burns and Shakespeare.

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Can a Dream Hold Us Together?

In “Midnight’s Children,” Rushdie shows the forces destroying India’s dream of national unity. Americans will find it familiar.

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Inspired by MLK and Lucille Clifton

To honor Martin Luther King, I share a hard-hitting but hopeful Lucille Clifton essay by a first-year African-American student who is fulfilling his dream.

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Happiness Based on Another’s Oppression

To understand why the race card is so politically effective, reading Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”

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Roy Cohn, Trump’s Mentor

A revival of “Angels in America” reminds us of the vicious lawyer who mentored Donald Trump. Yet the play is optimistic for all that.

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Love, the Lesson which the Lord Us Taught

Edmund Spenser joyfully welcomes in Easter, proclaiming “Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.”

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