Monthly Archives: December 2018

Top 2018 Post: Atwood Saves a Life

New Year’s Eve 2018 will always stand out for me as the year I retired. As I look back at my posts over the past 12 months, therefore, I have chosen to highlight one about my final senior project. Ashley Kadva, a single mother of two, shows us how literature is more than a luxury.  Margaret Atwood […]

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Good Is the Flesh the Word Has Become

Spiritual Sunday Given how today’s Old and New Testament readings are drenched in poetry, I feel particularly fortunate to participate in the service, both as crucifer and as  a reader (lector). The readings begin with the Book of Isaiah (“For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown […]

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2018’s Top Story: Parkland

Friday A top contender for 2018’s story of the year is the Parkland shooting and its aftermath, which includes the young people’s March for Our Lives. The story stands out because of the life-affirming response to a devastating tragedy. Here’s the post I wrote the Monday after the march. Reprinted from March 26, 2018 As I watched […]

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Now the Work of Christmas Begins

Thursday My brother Sam alerted me to this timely poem by Howard Thurman, a civil rights activist and African American Quaker. I love the way it moves from the public to the private in the final line, turning from good works to inner peace. The Work of Christmas When the song of the angels is […]

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Merry Christmas (Not!)

Wednesday Sardonic Catholic satirist Hilaire Belloc has the perfect response for our president’s latest tweet, not to mention for all those Christians hysterically complaining about “the war on Christmas.” First, Donald Trump: It’s a disgrace what’s happening in this country. But other than that, I wish everybody a merry Christmas. Here’s Belloc from his novel […]

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The Lord of Life Be Born in Earth

Christmas Let Henry Vaughan’s Christmas poem usher you into this holy day. Vaughan is one of Britain’s great nature poets—he had a profound influence on Wordsworth—and this poem features his characteristic nature imagery. When Vaughan is obsessed with sin, he compares God’s grace to the sun (which “doth shakes light from his locks”) and his […]

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Christmas Eve Updated

Christmas Eve A Christmas Eve poem by my father, probably inspired by Jean Luc Godard’s controversial film Hail Mary. Item By Scott Bates They came in on Interstate 93 Past a dozen signs of NO VACANCY And finally stopped at the Holiday Inn Where she stayed in the car while he went in And was politely […]

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He Comes to Shatter Expectation

Spiritual Sunday Anyone with children knows the chaos they bring into one’s life. Even when they arrive longed for and expected, the parents have no idea what they are in for. This surprise factor is at the basis of a lovely Advent poem–published in the Southern Poetry Review–by my friend Jennifer Michael, currently chair of Sewanee’s English […]

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Trump’s Taming of the GOP

Thursday Political scientists will debate for years how Donald J. Trump took over and “Trumpified” the modern Republican party. Multiple explanations exist, including George Packer’s theory that Trump represents a longtime rot within the GOP (I blogged about this on Monday). Nevertheless, it still boggles the mind that a disreputable realtor to whom no one […]

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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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