Monthly Archives: April 2019

Strike My Heart So the Tears Will Flow

Good Friday In her poem “Good Friday,” Christina Rossetti laments that she responds to Christ’s death like a stone, not a faithful sheep. Why can’t she be like the women who wept at the foot of the cross, or Peter who wept for his betrayal, or the sun and the moon that hid their faces? […]

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Notre Dame’s Meaning for Non-Believers

Wednesday Non-believers as well as believers may feel the urge to send up a prayer of thanks that Notre Dame’s basic structure appears to have survived the fire. The world-wide concern over the catastrophe indicates that the cathedral was not only meaningful to Christians. A friend alerted me to a Fleda Brown poem that helps […]

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Tiger Conquers His Demons

Wednesday In discussing how Tiger Woods has changed during the eight-year Majors drought between his U.S. Open win in 2011 and his extraordinary Master’s victory Sunday, golf commentators have noticed a new friendliness in the formerly aloof golfer. As Golf Channel analyst Rex Hoggard observes,  “I’ve covered him his entire career. I started covering golf […]

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How Notre Dame Was Saved by a Novel

Tuesday Notre Dame in flames is breaking my heart, along with hearts all over the world. For me, Notre Dame is the soul of Paris, and I remember counting the stairs and wandering around the demon statues when I was 11. My attachment was further cemented when I read Victor Hugo’s novel in French at […]

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Will Odysseus Shape 2020 Election?

Monday I won’t take credit for this but Washington Post’s Molly Roberts recently penned a very Better-Living-with Beowulf type column where she contrasted two Democratic presidential candidates by examining which version of the Odysseus/Ulysses story they prefer. Her piece gives me an excuse to apply other versions of the story to various 2020 contenders. Roberts […]

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Caught Up in the Singing

Palm Sunday Anglican priest and poet Malcolm Guite is the author of many wondrous lyrics, including “Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year” found in Sounding the Season (Canterbury 2012). “Palm Sunday” captures something I’ve always noticed but never fully grasped—that days before the trauma of Good Friday, there’s a moment of euphoria that seems to […]

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Poaching: A Revenge Fantasy

Friday I found myself enjoying a recent news report about animals striking back. First an elephant killed a South African rhino poacher before he could do any damage and then the man’s body was eaten by lions. As someone tweeted, the animals had each other’s backs. D. H. Lawrence vents our rage against such poachers […]

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Following Barr Down the Rabbit Hole

Thursday I haven’t quoted the Alice books for a while, even though in the past I have turned to them many times to capture America’s fractured politics. We are now so far down the rabbit hole, however, or so deep into the looking glass, that Lewis Carroll is must reading. On a general level, we […]

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Sophie’s Choice at the Border

Wednesday So Kirstjen Nielsen, the face of child separation, kids in cages, and tear-gassed immigrants, has been fired for being too soft. Now the president and white nationalist Steve Miller (and yes, you can be a Jewish white nationalist) want to present immigrants seeking asylum with a Sophie’s choice:  Under a binary choice policy, which […]

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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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