We’ve have quite a busy year! Our daughter, Eleanor, was born in March. I taught a class on fairy tales, and came away from it thinking Where the Wild Things Are is more genius than I ever realized (more on that in a later post). And I finished my comprehensive exams, preparing to teach in classes on … More Year in Review
What do we do with old books? I mean really old books. How do we understand them when they seem so alien to us? Time can seem to be the enemy of understanding. Past texts can seem cryptic. We wonder if Chaucer is as ironic as we may like to see him or if we … More How Temporal Distance Helps Us Read
How religious were the Victorians? If we focus only on the canonical poets, then maybe not so much. Alfred Tennyson finds himself staring at the paradox of a divinely-created nature that is “red in tooth and claw” and a faith that suggests we believe what “we cannot prove” (In Memoriam 56.15, Prologue line 4). Thomas Hardy … More Some Victorian Advent Reading
There is so much overlap between literature and liturgy. Sometimes a liturgy will take central place in a novel, such as the baptism in Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles or the wedding at the end of any marriage plot. Many liturgies themselves are a collection of literary genres, ranging from myth to poetry to exhortation, … More Through the Poetic Year: C. S. Lewis
Nothing is so purely the trace of the mind as writing, but also nothing is so dependent on the understanding mind. In deciphering and interpreting a miracle takes place: the transformation of something strange and dead into a total simultaneity and familiarity. This is like nothing else that has come down to us from the … More The Miracle of Reading
The holiest attribute of a temple is that it is a place where men weep in common. A Miserere sung in common by a multitude flailed by destiny is worth a whole philosophy. To cure the plague is not enough, it must also be lamented with bitter tears. Yes, we must learn to weep! Perhaps … More A Miserere Sung in Common
Today’s a special day for the dead. It begins a time when monks shield their faces with their cowls on processions to cemeteries. A time when we surround ourselves with the memento mori of skulls and ghouls and graves. But why hold such a day when we are alive and part of a culture that … More Why Bury the Dead?