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My Summer Vacation: a Report

Late in a recent summer, I spent an entire day with my departmental compatriots working on Student Learning Outcomes. This is merely the latest manifestation of the assessment mania now gripping our college – and higher education as a whole. Naturally I came home with a crushing headache. Meanwhile, many of us had seen each other only in passing for the previous few months, so we engaged in some pleasant chit-chat and catching up with one another: “How was your…
October 31, 2018

Learning to See Life’s Ecstatic Dance

The Overstory, by Richard Powers THE OVERSTORY RICHARD POWERS W. W. NORTON & COMPANY. INC., 2018 $27.95 512 PAGES Richard Powers, a National Book Award winner, has been writing science- and tech-related fiction for more than 30 years. In his latest novel, The Overstory, he displays his mastery of the craft with an innovative interplay of theme, structure and style. The first 150 pages trace nine characters – nine “roots” according to the section heading – each equally compelling. The…
October 31, 2018

The Psalms Meet the Gridiron

“There are only a few times in a man’s life where you have a chance to stand up, tell ‘em what you believe in, and make a statement. So today I thought that was that chance, and so I took it.” – Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers “I know for a fact that I’m no son of a bitch, and I plan on continuing forward and doing whatever I can from my position to promote the equality that’s needed in this…
October 31, 2018

The Hollander Files

Clannish, insular immigrants who refuse to assimilate ... large families and achieving kids who quickly overshadow other residents ... loyalty given to foreign, even adversarial, governments ... houses of worship where foreign languages are spoken ... dominating clergy who browbeat their people ... houses of worship set afire by arsonists. It is time for us to awaken to the reality that our American institutions are in danger from these foreigners who persist in bringing their un-American ideas with them, and…

In Praise of Quitting

There’s a billboard out by the highway featuring a picture of John Wayne in all his western glory with the caption “Don’t Much Like Quitters, Son.” It’s one of the omnipresent “values” billboards that line our motorways. Every time I see it, I’m filled with questions. I probably shouldn’t take billboards so seriously, but I can’t help myself. Wouldn’t John Wayne have lived a longer, healthier, happier life if he’d been a quitter? What does it say about our culture…
October 31, 2018
CultureInside Out

Thanking God for Bob’s Bar

A couple of Fridays ago, some friends and I took the hourlong trip to an off-the-beaten-path dive bar in Nebraska – Bob’s Bar, in Martinsburg. It’s not much to look at from the outside. Even when you get in the place, it’s not that great – a pool table, a bar and some tables shoved together in the back. The plates are mismatched remnants of what seem like 1950s tableware, and the giant fan blowing in the back means quite a bit of…
October 31, 2018
As We See It

I Believe in Hairy Legs

On a hot, humid summer afternoon, my sons, then  4 and 7, came rushing, breathless, to ask me to watch the praying mantis they caught in our weedy flower garden eat the cricket they just put in its cage. It was one of those days. The past week had been exceptionally busy. The lawn and garden desperately needed attention. The laundry, accumulated over the past week or more, needed to be done. I had work to catch up on, and…
September 1, 2018

The Active Voice

After Camille Pissarro’s Haymaking at Éragny   Pissarro clumped, sculpted, plowed his oil paints to produce this hayfield: fertile pigments mixed, molded, together like squelching mud to cultivate such an agrarian landscape sown with greens, blues, yellows, browns; his passion raising pregnant berms with color on this canvas. Here, between trees, a breeze combs through wheat-sheaves where a woman works a pitchfork in the grasses, ordering, processing, a year’s plenty beside fellow peasants, harvesting what’s needed for unseen hungry mouths…
September 1, 2018
Inside OutMagazine

Falling into the Earth

In Chapter 12 of the Gospel of John, Jesus announces, “The hour has come,” and with these words the focus of this gospel shifts. Knowing that his hour of death is near, Jesus turns his attention to his disciples and tries to explain to them the meaning of his life and imminent death. Jesus begins with this striking image: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much…
June 30, 2018