Blog Posts

Jewish universalism and nationalism
in Vichy and post-war France

“LAUTREC 1943, manufacture of unleavened breads”

Reading Sarah Hammerschlag’s “Truth for Children”

Truth for Children,” by Sarah Hammerschlag, in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Autumn/Winter 2018 (VOL. 46, NOS. 3&4).

Sarah Hammerschlag, Associate Professor of Religion & Literature, Philosophy of Religions, & History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity SchoolSarah Hammerschlag is Associate Professor of Religion and Literature, Philosophy of Religions, and History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity

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I had forgotten

Death meditating, lotus position

For several months I have felt as if I were slipping back into clinical depression again.

The outward signs are here. The fogged thinking, lack of enthusiasm, fussiness, longing to sleep. The undertone of despair. All too generalized to ascribe to any one or cluster of causes.

Yet somehow the subtle bodily symptoms I’ve come to recognize over the decades are not really present. As a scientist in the medieval sense—someone who seeks to know—I’ve looked inwardly for years at

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“A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”

"Portrait of Jesus," Jacob Barosin (c. 1955)

When I was a little Lutheran preacher’s kid in 1950s Ohio, the most familiar images of Jesus were ones with children gathered round and sitting on his knee. These accompanied songs like “Jesus Loves Me.”

I was blessed with caring parents and a child-friendly neighborhood, and my father’s sermons were about Jesus’ compassionate humanity. These childhood portrayals of Jesus did not clash very much with my personal experience of family and community.

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Reposting: “Imbolc: In which Walhydra admits that she does harbor a smidge of hope”

On Monday, January 29, 2007, I published this essay on my old Walhydra’s Porch blog. Coming out of the darkness of this particularly dark winter, I feel like it’s worth sharing again. (See Gather Victoria’s post, “Feast of Light: Reviving the Magical Foods of Imbolc,” for a new piece on the festival.)

By now the gentle reader knows what an unrepentant grouch Walhydra wants everyone to think she is…but there’s

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Winter mammals

“Walden pond ice,” from Rimager’s Walden album on flickr

There’s something wrong with
how we do winter, making it
the busiest time of year. Our calendar

Is all wrong. Yes, the sun
starts back
on the solstice,
but that just means
we should be rolling over in our sleep
and waiting for spring.

Why—though the empire insist—
do we stay above ground,
scurrying around
as if
everything has to

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Curing and healing

“Ten lepers,” image from page 94 of "In His footsteps : a record of travel to and in the land of Christ : with an attempt to mark the Lord's journeyings in chronological order from His birth to His Ascension" by William Etridge McLennan (1896)

American culture has been fixated from the start on two principles inherited from the 17th century English society that established the colonies: the mandate to cure physical, social, and moral ills, and the primacy of ownership.

Whether Puritan, Catholic, or Dissenter, those first immigrants and refugees all thought that they could do better out from under the ruling hierarchy of their home island. Either that or they were hired or indentured by those same higher-ups, who claimed to own the

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