Monthly Archives: October 2010

Austen for Progressive Church Reform

Spiritual Sunday I have come to admire, a great deal, the heroine of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Under unbelievable social and family pressure, the modest and overlooked Fanny Price sticks to her moral principles as she resists a marriage proposal from an eligible bachelor, the wealthy and dashing Henry Crawford. I have learned only recently […]

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San Fran Giants Strike out Mighty Casey

Sports Saturday We are well into the World Series but I want to hearken back to game six of the National League championship series where the San Francisco Giants won the pennant. It was a game eerily reminiscent of that described in poetry’s greatest poem about baseball, Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat.” Baseball […]

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Walt Whitman, William Blake, and Baseball

Film Friday The World Series between the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants gives me an excuse for posting on what is, in my opinion, the greatest movie on baseball. Among the many virtues of Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham are its literary allusions and its literariness. Each year Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) chooses to […]

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Revenge, Understandable but Unhealthy

I’ve been talking a lot about rightwing anger this past year.Today I write about my own.It is an anger I try to keep hidden but that nevertheless washes over me from time to time, usually when I hear about some act of gross injustice where the perpetrator seems to escape scot-free. At such moments I […]

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Beware! Attacking Elitism Can Rebound

All the talk in this election season about the tyranny of elites has got me thinking about Walter Miller’s 1960 post-apocalyptic sci-fi classic Canticle for Leibowitz. And no, it’s not because I think this is an apocalyptic election, despite all the heated rhetoric we’re hearing. As commentators have pointed out, people who complain about elites often […]

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Season of Mellow Fruitfulness

In Southern Maryland our eternal summer appears finally to be fading and the fall, my favorite season, is a’cumin in. To celebrate it, I am posting one of my favorite seasonal poems, John Keats’ “To Autumn” (1817). The poem takes on added significance as the news continues to get worse for my friend Alan. Despite […]

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The Faustian Bargain of Juan Williams

I was upset to hear about Juan Williams and National Public Radio parting company the other day because of comments that Williams made on Fox Network’s Bill O’Reilly Show. The affair got me thinking about Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus for reasons I’ll explain in a moment. We say all kinds of stupid things in the […]

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A Harvest Love Poem to God

Spiritual Sunday Here is a harvest poem that moves quickly from an actual harvest (in the first line) to a heavenly one. The clouds are like sacks of grain, their meal drifting across the skies, and we can gaze upward and glean them with our eyes. As Gerald Manley Hopkins sees it, God reveals himself […]

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Football’s Culture of Violence – A Response

Sports Saturday Discussion of violent football hits has dominated the sports airwaves ever since the nation witnessed a series of frightening high-impact collisions last weekend.  In apparent panic, the National Football League has been handing out large fines and threats of suspension to players, including a $75,000 fine to James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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