Stray thoughts on war and pacifism

I wanted to gather a few comments from thinkers I respect, and see what comparisons emerge. First, Wendell Berry. Here’s a brief excerpt from “The Failure of War“: What could be more absurd, to begin with, than our attitude of high moral outrage against other nations for manufacturing the selfsame weapons that we manufacture? The

The Man who was Thursday

I get cranky with books that are heavily allegorical. Something in me says irritably, “If you have a message this specific, just say it. Why try to hide it in a story?” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to

The Giver

I read this one a few months ago, but I’ve been familiarizing myself with it again for book club this month. Spoilers follow… Here are the things that jump out at me: 1. Language. Take this passage, for instance: “Do you love me?” There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a

The Story Behind Modern Books

Ever wondered how some loved story took shape in its author’s mind? I read Jeane’s review of this book over at Dog Ear Diary, and it sounded really interesting. I picked up a used copy and have spent the last couple of days going through it. Elizabeth Rider Montgomery gives brief accounts (around 3-4 pages


How would a society composed exclusively of women function? This is the question Charlotte Perkins Gilman takes up in Herland (1915), a tale about three male adventurers who go exploring (and are held captive) in this unique, highly civilized, well-protected country. I chose this title for the Decades Challenge because “The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of the

Washington: The Indispensable Man

This isn’t how I’m accustomed to visualizing George Washington. Charles Willson Peale’s 1772 painting captures him young and gallant, with a twinkle in his eye, in his French and Indian War uniform. But thanks to Washington: The Indispensable Man, I got to know him a little bit, and follow him through his long and influential

Eat This, Not That

I picked up this book because it seemed consistent with my goal to make more real food and less processed stuff. I haven’t been disappointed. Apparently not the first of the series, Eat This, Not That! is designed to offer a few priorities for healthy eating, a review of some alarming statistics, and a catalogue


This week I read the story of Abraham and Isaac and was confronted with its difficulty again. Sometimes poetry finds a dwelling place in the midst of a tangle, so I’ve looked around for an Abraham and Isaac poem. I liked this poem from Abraham’s perspective, by Fr. Kilian McDonnell, though it violates the limits


At last, I finished it. What impulse compelled me to pick up this book from the Walmart shelf and purchase it? The bargain price of $5.97? The fact that I graduated from high school in 1984? Its classic status and my guilt over never having read it? The fact that I once had a teacher