March 4, 2013
Thirty years ago, I met Robert Frost’s close friend, Rabbi Victor Reichert, who lived only a mile down the hill from the poet in Ripton, Vt. Reichert told me about the time Frost came to his synagogue in Cincinnati. There Frost delivered a passionate sermon, explaining to the crowd that he had no time for “irreligion.” He considered Scripture a live, ongoing revelation, and he considered himself a mouthpiece for the word. In describing this, Reichert seized...
January 21-28, 2013
The thread of Jack Kerouac’s literary and personal life in the American imagination might be unwound succinctly in the following terms: ambitious and fun-loving young man leaves behind his small-town upbringing to chase heroes and dreams in the American West, finding along the way new paths to enlightenment while blazing a trail for generations of seekers to follow.
December 10, 2012
School children are touring the throne room of Buckingham Palace when a taxi enters its enclosure. The youngsters watch as a tuxedoed James Bond (Daniel Craig) steps from the cab. He confidently passes through palace corridors until an attendant, in medals and tails, ushers him into the queen’s chambers. Her Majesty continues to work for a moment.
“Good evening, Mr. Bond.”
“Good evening, Ma’am.”
October 29, 2012
Last fall I visited Zuccotti Park numerous times between its initial occupation on Sept. 17 and when it was violently emptied in the middle of the night by New York City police officers on Nov. 15. After that event I resolved to return two days later to walk with Occupy Wall Street as the movement attempted to close down, or at least delay, the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. Outnumbered and overpowered by the police, the attempt failed, of course, and over 300 people were...
September 10, 2012
It is not hard to come by images of the holy in Tijuana. But in a modest building there a group of Sisters in white saris with three blue stripes cherish a wonderful two-for-one: a newspaper photo of Mother Teresa of Calcutta beaming delightedly as she holds in her hands an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The photograph reminds us of Teresa’s history in Tijuana, and of her joyful relationship with Latin America as a whole.
August 13, 2012
Twenty-five years ago I was given the job of covering Michael Dukakis, the eventual 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, for The Atlanta Journal Constitution. This time, the political editor told me, we are going to try to focus on the issues, not the horse race.
In the end it was, as before and since, the horse race that we and the rest of the press focused on. The political editor’s vow was high-minded, but it did not make much sense to me then. And, perennial as it would become in...
August 13, 2012
While Team Great Britain’s crew teams rowed to four gold medals at the London Olympics, a Catholic priest, who is a chaplain offering pastoral support to visitors to the Games, meditated on the parallels between the Olympic sport and the life of a Christian.
July 30, 2012
The fifth annual World Science Festival took place over five days in New York City in June. (You can find my blog posts from the festival here.) I attended four events on a range of fascinating topics, from the “elusive neutrino” to the disruptive technological power of the Internet. What was perhaps most intriguing,...
July 2, 2012
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was born in the British century and lived half his life in the American century. Since the 21st century may turn out to be the Chinese/Indian century or the century of the global south, we will likely hear more, not less, about Tagore.
June 4, 2012
Superman turns 74 this month, so it’s not a bad time to assess the place of the Man of Steel in our collective consciousness. My own affection for him stems from the 1952 television series “Adventures of Superman,” starring George Reeves, which I watched as after-school reruns even before I went to school.