The Riddle of Steel

Around dinnertime on January 6, while emotions were still running high from the day’s failed coup but it had become clear that the coup had indeed failed and the gears of government would grind forward, delayed but not deterred, my wife told me she planned to discuss what had happened with our sons over dinner, before they had a chance to hear about it at school the next day. We agreed on our approach and then, with sitcom timing, our twelve-year-old bounded down the stairs shouting “You guys ready for another civil war?”

It was a welcome moment of levity…

Back in March, when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the midst of Lent, the symbolism didn’t go unnoticed. Lent, for those who observe, is a season of prayer and fasting, and many imagined that the pandemic would be something like a turbo-charged Lent, a brief period of extended suffering that would soon end with a return to normality.

Nine months later, we now know that Easter never came, and COVID Lent has lasted all year. …

Ever since it became clear that Joe Biden had denied Donald Trump a second term, words like “unity,” “forgiveness” and “reconciliation” have been floating around the more sensible corners of the Internet. After over 70 million people voted to keep Trump in office and some 75 million voted to oust him, citizens of a deeply divided nation are envisioning a world where the bitter political differences of the Trump era are set aside and the nation goes back to the (mythical) genteel bickering of the Bush and Obama eras.

In circles where such entreaties aren’t being rejected out of hand…

Wear Two Masks

In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s ministry, Jesus spends a fair amount of time answering questions. Many of these are posed by religious leaders trying to confound or trick him, but several are earnest questions from followers or would-be followers asking what they have to do to secure their place in the Kingdom of God. And in answering these questions, Jesus tends to follow what you might call a “theme.”

The theme derives from one of Jesus’s most famous answers (they’re all famous, I know), which comes in response to a Pharisee asking him which is the…

Bananappeal by Greg Brown

In the early days of my life as a parent our pediatrician remarked offhandedly that if he had to choose a perfect food, it would be the banana. This was vindicating for me personally because I care for bananas a great deal, eating one every morning when we have them. It also reminded me of an old banana ad campaign from the 1990s built around the somewhat cumbersome slogan “Quite Possibly, the World’s Perfect Food.” (I have a deep and abiding affection for the lawyers who insisted on including “Quite Possibly.”)

And bananas are nearly perfect. They’re nutrient dense, delicious…

It has not gone unnoticed that one of the greatest global disruptions in history is coinciding with Lent, a season of fasting, sacrifice and penance for many Christians preceding the Easter celebration. Twitter user Andy Crouch perhaps put it best, if glibly: “Honestly hadn’t planned on giving up quite this much for Lent.”

I try to make Lent, when I observe it, a time of spiritual growth, rather than just avoiding my favorite foods for forty days (though I do that as well). But what strikes me about the present Lenten pandemic is the degree of spiritual sacrifice and deprivation…

Matt Holohan

Lawyer and religion think-abouter.

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