Friday, November 17, 2017


One of my students just said, "I hope you feel better soon" at the end of our meeting. I guess that means I'm down with cold #2 of the season. I had been hoping it was just the last vestiges of cold #1.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


"In Wisdom is a spirit
intelligent, holy, unique,
Manifold, subtle, agile,
clear, unstained, certain,
Not baneful, loving the good, keen,
unhampered, beneficent, kindly,
Firm, secure, tranquil,
all-powerful, all-seeing,
And pervading all spirits,
though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle.
For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion,
and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.
For she is an aura of the might of God
and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore nought that is sullied enters into her.
For she is the refulgence of eternal light,
the spotless mirror of the power of God,
the image of his goodness.
And she, who is one, can do all things,
and renews everything while herself perduring;
And passing into holy souls from age to age,
she produces friends of God and prophets.
For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom.
For she is fairer than the sun
and surpasses every constellation of the stars.
Compared to light, she takes precedence;
for that, indeed, night supplants,
but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom.

Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily
and governs all things well."


Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Regardless of what the internet says, spiders are not a positive dream symbol! (At least for me.)

Also: Ok, ok, we are very lucky to have short, walkable commutes, but boy I hate wading through urban sidewalk puddles in a blustery downpour. Also, forgot to put the kid in rain boots this morning, which he wears as often as possible, although not, I guess, in the actual rain.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Small Town Life

Francisco and I went out for a drink and a movie last night. (We would have had dinner, but the food in this town is...let's just say the cauliflower soup I made was better.) We enjoyed beers at a new-ish brewery downtown, where one of my students is the bartender and a former student was there with his parents. Then, at the movie, two of my current students--and their girlfriends--sat behind us. How embarrassing when at every slightly scary moment I jumped and dived into my husband's arms.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


I know we're past All Saints, but these verses from the middle of "For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest" stuck out to me this week:

4. O blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
5. And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Random Assortment

~ Another excellent Olive Garden review. (By the way, since I read this piece, I've been getting ads for the Olive Garden on facebook. The likelihood of me going to the Olive Garden is, let's say, very slim.)

~ Is there anyone better than Tomie?

~ I was happy to hear that Ishiguro won a Nobel, but in all of the reflections on his work, no one captured what I think is most interesting--except this in the NYT:

His dual identity has made him alert to life’s dislocations; many of his characters are caught, in different ways, between worlds. 

~ Wow--this is straight out of Hobbes!

~ I don't think I would call it "emotional labor," but otherwise--good article.

~ On essential oils and multi-level marketing, including its connections to Christianity, but the part about Mormons was especially fascinating:

At first, doTerra’s distributors, whom it refers to as Wellness Advocates, were largely concentrated in Utah. Several doTerra executives are Mormons, and the company’s connection to the Church was an advantage, because distributors could rely on its large number of stay-at-home mothers and its naturally networked communities. Utah has more multilevel-marketing companies per capita than any other state; direct sales are Utah’s second-biggest source of revenue, after tourism. 

~ There are British detective shows that I haven't watched! (I count 6 that I haven't seen here.)

~ Alan Jacobs and, if he says so, Auden, are my two favorites. Is there a better meditation for Reformation Day?''

~ I think he's my all-time favorite writer, besides, of course, my husband.

~ The politicization of motherhood. I have thoughts.

~ I did not love Capture the Castle (too depressing), but please remain my kindred spirit nonetheless!

~ In which Marilynne Robinson lauds Tocqueville, humanist. (I don't mean to quibble, but I really can't help it--Tocqueville is the solution, but not just because he sees the power and importance of democracy. Also because he foretells the problems that accompany it. Robinson seems to think Tocqueville's praise of democracy and the problems of the contemporary world are two separate things--and the latter belongs to capitalism. I think Tocqueville sees them as connected. Although it very well may be the humanities (at least in part) that pull us back from the brink of the excesses of democracy and I wrote a paper to that effect in grad school and have been, since then, sad that I've done nothing with it. Although Robinson does it all much better.) (Also--Tocqueville sees a tension between government solutions and participatory solutions, which Robinson doesn't see.)

~ The Dying Art of Disagreement.

~ "The Misguided Student Crusade Against 'Facism'":

Armed with a megaphone and raised fists, the protesters shouted about the university’s rising tuition, a perceived corporatization of public higher education and my support for free speech on campus — a stance they said perpetuated “fascism and white supremacy.”
I have nothing against protest. It is a time-honored form of communicating dissent. Often, the concerns students express very much deserve to be addressed. But the tactic of silencing, which has been deployed repeatedly at universities around the country, only hurts these activists’ cause. Rather than helping people who feel they have little power or voice, students who squelch speech alienate those who are most likely to be sympathetic to their message.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Email Spam as Love Letters

Just scanning the first line of my spam mail is the most romantic writing I get on a daily basis:

"Good day my beloved one"; "Subject line: good day my dear" and begins "Dearest,"; "Hello my dear, I sent this mail praying it would find you in good condition of health"; "Dearest I know this mail will come to you as a surprise..."; "RE: MY DEAREST Dear Beloved, My dear..."

Well, if I'm not feeling loved, I sure know where I'll look!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Noah's Ark

I finally got a hold of the prizewinning Peter Spier Noah's Ark. In addition to being humor-filled and almost totally picture-driven and excellent, it is theologically informed in fascinating ways.

Okay, okay, so of course Noah's Ark will be theologically informed, it's a Bible story. Yes, but it's also a children's book. So let's just say I wasn't expecting to see a city burning in the distance on the endpaper at the beginning of the book.

The majority of the words in the book are from a 17th century Dutch poem, The Flood, that Spier translates himself. Quick googling reveals that its author--Jacobus Revius--is a Calvinist theologian. Surprise, surprise. Here are a couple of lines:

            "But the rest, worst and best,
              Stayed on shore.
              Were no more. ...
              They were killed
              For the guilt
              Which brought all
              To the Fall."

So what we get in the book is a playful acknowledgment that not every creature got to come along on the ark--got to be saved from the destruction of the flood.

Amazing--this is Spier's humor!

Obviously--his pictures and humor and storytelling are amazing. And the theological complexity only makes this story more interesting for me.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The King of the Birds

Writing children's books about famous people is an interesting endeavor. This one takes Flannery O'Connor's childhood interest in chickens and peacocks and turns it into a little story.

The illustrations are charming. (The endpapers are pictured above.)

The wit is endearing. (Above is the peahen's response to the peacock's attention.)

But the idea that "life was a little too quite" is a refrain of the text. The claim that Flannery O'Connor was interested in attention (even when she was a child) is just plain old off-putting. She was shy! She was interested in oddity, but not, I think, for the attention that it brought her.

Apologies for the quality of these photographs.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


I brought a professor from another institution to campus today. It was a ton of work, but ended up being really beneficial for my students and for me. Moreover, the professor was really a great human being and made the whole thing a delight. I'm tired as heck, and it was a great day.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


We were in a super cool bookstore in Ann Arbor this weekend and so I checked out some new children's books. (I'm excited to read The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine--all I could do in the bookstore was flip through. It looks innovative and charming and indulgent--there are spreads with just a small picture on a page or two.)

The kid loves his Puff, the Magic Dragon book, which I generally sing rather than read. And I love the song Imagine, so I thought I'd try this book, which I sang to him (quietly) in the bookstore. I guess it didn't go well because he demanded, "Read the words, not sing them."

The funny part is that the song and book advocate moving past nationality and religion with pictures of birds. This, of course, reminds us that animals don't have silly things like nationality and religion. I guess that gives us hope that humans can get past them too? It just sort of reminds me that I'm nothing like a bird. And the idea of birds sharing things (except in the cases of mothers and baby birds) just doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm not a biologist; I don't know: Maybe birds share stuff all the time. The illustrations just didn't convince me.

Moreover, the illustrations are all about this pigeon and his olive branch of peace. But don't they know--this is an image rooted in religion. (And there's a whole lot of wiping out of the world before we get to the olive branch.) I guess we could go into immanentizing the eschaton here.

But really, I love the song. And not the book.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Spirit of the Beehive

Warning--don't read this because it gives plot details away.

The Spirit of the Beehive is about a little girl in a small town in Spain in the 40s. She watches Frankenstein and discovers a wounded Republican soldier, who is subsequently killed. These events blur into one traumatic experience. It's a slow-paced (and beautiful) psychological film about childhood, family, and Franco. It's troubling at times. And there are bees, although I'm still trying to figure out how they fit in. It's the sort of movie that you have to watch a couple of times; plus, it's informed by the political situation of Spain in the 40s, which at least for me takes some catching up on.