Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Reign of the Locusts

Some things you just can’t get out of your head. In yesterday’s Writer’s Almanac, Garrison Keillor discussed the “largest recorded swarm of locusts” in American history, which took place on July 20, 1875. Locusts have been a plague at least since the time of Moses whose god set them on Egypt where “they covered all […]

Thank Heaven for Women

Some years ago when my daughter Gayley was in preschool, her friend Niles would assume the characters of his favorite Saturday morning cartoon villains and terrorize his classmates, for whom the distinction between reality and television cartoons was not yet fully developed. Since we didn’t have a television back then, Gayley had no idea what […]

The Line of Dissent

Yesterday a friend sent me an essay, called “Mourning,” about Liu Xiaobo, the writer, scholar, and dissident. Minutes later the news came that Liu had died of liver cancer in the Chinese jail where he had been imprisoned since 2008. I had barely heard of Liu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 and […]

Creation Stories (Part 2): America

One of the problems raised by the Trump creation story I wrote about last time is that America already has a creation story of its own. It begins in Boston Harbor in 1630, when John Winthrop counseled his parishioners to build “a city upon a hill.” His was an exclusive vision, his community included only […]

Creation Stories (Part 1)

“Creation myths tell us how things began,” writes David Leeming in Creation Myths of the World. “All cultures have creation myths, [which] explain in metaphorical terms our sense of who we are in the context of the world, and in so doing they reveal our real priorities, as well as our real prejudices. Our images […]

The Irrelevance of Beauty

On June 30, 1864, Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant, the first time the federal government had set aside land for public use and protection. At the time, the Civil War was reaching a critical phase, as Ulysses S. Grant had just launched the nine-month Siege of Petersburg, which would eventually lead to Lee’s surrender […]