How desperate do you feel? Thoreau believed most people “lead lives of quiet desperation” (Walden, “Economy”), not the frantic desperation of someone who’s in imminent danger, but the subtler kind, the low-level anxiety that slowly eats away at us. We may pretend it doesn’t exist, but once in a while it bubbles up and lets […]

Now is not the time to let down your guard. The Grinch who stole into town on Christmas Eve to steal Christmas was not the real threat. He was only a diversion. And he turned out to be a pretty ineffective one. It’s the other Grinch who is the real threat. You’ll remember that the […]

Ozymandias (aka Trump) vilifies the mainstream press so much because he knows the unfettered, uncowed written word is ultimately the greatest threat to his attempt to hold what he craves: absolute power. The familiar saying “The pen is mightier than the sword” became a proverb because it’s true. Today Michael Scammell cites a good example […]

This is the text of a sermon I preached at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Lancaster, New York. Today is the Sunday when we in the church celebrate Christ the King. We’ve been doing it since 1925, when the feast was established. It might be one of the things Jesus would most want us to stop […]

On November 15, if I live that long, I will complete my allotted seventy years. It’s not a limit I take literally; there are plenty of exceptions on either side of the number. But it’s a good reminder of the brevity of life and of the certainty that it will end, and of the need […]

In the very bad year 1973 – things were not as bad as they are today, but they were bad nevertheless – one man’s short, simple letter struck a note of hope and encouragement that continues to reverberate today, especially today, when it’s needed. In that year, inflation was running more than six percent annually […]

In the wake of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, I’m looking for any flicker of light, any hope, in what seems to be a land of deep darkness. There’s only one place where I think I have any chance of finding it. The Washington Post (“Rock bottom: Supreme Court […]

Should I delete my social media accounts right now? That’s the question columnist Oliver Burkeman posed recently in The Guardian. An argument for retreating from social media: According to his summary of a book by Jaron Lanier, they “have sucked us into an addictive spiral of outrage, isolation and extremism, while making it ever harder […]

“Be at peace with your own soul; then heaven and earth will be at peace with you. Enter eagerly into the treasure house that is within you, and so you will see the things that are in heaven; for there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the kingdom […]

What’s on your list of things to do? Mine includes chores like mow the lawn; power wash the fence and garage; clear the piles of paper from my study. What does your list include? Here are some things that were on Leonardo da Vinci’s list of things to do in 1510: calculate the measurement of […]