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Inside Out

Dusty Endings

Though Easter was a huge deal in my family, we never did Ash Wednesday when I was growing up. No service, no imposition of ashes. And although my parents adored the Advent season (during which we had many family traditions, including daily lighting of our Advent wreath and daily chocolate ending from our Advent calendars), Lent was completely ignored. (Lest you think we were complete spiritual slackers, we still had daily family devotions, as we always did.) Naturally, we didn’t…
As We See It

Barefoot Teaching

Today is not just the first day of teaching in a new semester for me; it also marks the beginning of my 25th year in the classroom. My silver anniversary, if you will. I’m not sure it’s an occasion for a party or anything. And I realize it’s clichéd to say, but it really doesn’t seem that long ago that my 22-year-old self was walking in to teach English 131AK: Expository Writing to incoming first-year students at the University of…
December 31, 2015
Essays

A Curious Professor

Part I: Holberg In all the years of our long friendship, there was never a week that went by when Dale Brown and I did not talk about teaching. We talked about our own classes, of course, and our students, but we also talked about all the pedagogical “nitty-gritty” – grading and assignments and course readings – trying to figure out how to get ever better at what we felt was the most meaningful part of our job as professors.…
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Lucky 13

MAY 2012: INSIDE OUT by Jennifer L. Holberg I recently joined the blogging group "The Twelve: Reformed. Done Daily." It's a group that has been going for a while (and with great stuff—I encourage you to check it out at the12.squarespace.com). And now that one of the original twelve has dropped out, I guess that makes me the blog's Matthias. You'll remember the story of Matthias from Acts 1. After Jesus' ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem and discussed a…
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Scenes of Miracle

I've had a great treat this summer: every Wednesday, I've gotten to spend the morning with a dear friend's 20-month old child. The official reason is to give my friend a little time for her own writing, but the real reason, if truth be told, is much more selfish on my part--I get to have an excuse to goof around for a couple of hours. Of late, my schedule has become almost unbearably busy, so this time has become a…
August 1, 2011
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Story-Shaped Lives

I still have the handmade birthday card my fifth grade teacher gave me—an enormous piece of folded yellow construction paper with a big orange bookworm (wearing a festive birthday hat, naturally) drawn on the front. Somehow that flimsy relic of thirty years ago survived the many moves of my childhood and found a snug home at the bottom of the cedar box a great-uncle made me as a repository for my "treasures." Perhaps it's no surprise I safeguarded it so…
August 1, 2010
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In Defense of Extravagance

Several years ago I was in England, researching the life of a very minor Modernist poet. I had dutifully made the rounds of libraries far and wide, and finally, after about a month, I had arrived at the very last one on my list. My reward when I was done was to be my first trip to France with my brother, who lived in England at the time. To be honest, I was only visiting that particular library out of…
November 1, 2009
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For JRB

Her picture hangs on the wall of my office--as she was as a young WAVE cryptographer during World War II. In profile, her upturned face shows a woman brimming with self-confidence and joie de vivre, bright and striking and determined. Nothing has changed all that much. Now, even at 85, even facing a daunting range of health issues, she is one of the most vibrant people I know. Though physically she now bears the signs of weariness and pain, intellectually…
August 1, 2005