Archive for category: Uncategorized

“Spring” Semester in Cambridge, MA

15 Feb
February 15, 2015

Here was the view this morning from the window of our very pleasant apartment in Cambridge, MA.   The gray horizontal strip in the middle is the road, the white mounds are cars, and the chair in the foreground is a parking spot that was saved before today’s snow.  Fortunately, I don’t need to drive anywhere, so the snow has been memorable with being too great an inconvenience.


Cambridge Snow 1






Back On-Line and Recent Column

10 Nov
November 10, 2014

My apologies for the long lag between posts.  I’ve gotten swept up in preparations for various speaking events and other obligations, and have let weeks slip by without posting anything new, much less interesting.

I’m in Hong Kong and will be putting up new posts soon.  In the meantime, here is a recent column discussing an intriguing shift toward the testimonial in the writings of popular atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

A Christian Apologist and an Atheist Thrive in an Improbable Bond

04 Oct
October 4, 2014

The New York Times had a really nice (and beautifully written) column today about True Paradox and my friendship with Patrick Arsenault. Two years of conversations with Patrick shaped the book in many ways. The column really nicely summarizes our ongoing conversations and their effect.

True Paradox Signing at Harvard Coop: Saturday Sept 27 at 4pm

24 Sep
September 24, 2014
A picture from the last event ...

A picture from the last event …

For those who happen to be in the Boston/Cambridge area, and are perhaps looking for a family outing, I’ll be doing a book event at the Harvard Coop on Saturday.





The New Poet Laureate

20 Jun
June 20, 2014

Last week’s announcement that Charles Wright will be the next poet laureate brought back many memories.  Shortly before my last semester of law school at the University of Virginia in the late 1980s, I sent Mr. Wright (as we knew our professors back then) a note begging him to give me a slot in his poetry writing workshop.  The note was shameless—saying that I’d tried unsuccessfully to enroll for the workshop before, that this semester was my last chance, etc.  Happily, he let me in anyway.  Once a week I drove from the law school to our classroom on the main campus, and slipped into another world (for which I got law school credit!).  Wright was already a legend on campus, even though he had not yet won the slew of poetry awards he has received since.

A few years ago, I interviewed Wright at his house in Charlottesville for Books & Culture (here).  A part of the interview that didn’t make it in to print seems to me to nicely capture Wright’s humility and dry humor.  We’re talking about his famously musical line, which varies in length, but always has an odd number of syllables.

Interviewer: One of the things everyone talks about when they talk about your poetry is the music in the poetry and the beauty of the language.  You have said many times over the years that you don’t have an ear for music.  I think you’ve said that you can’t carry a tune, I don’t know whether you’re exaggerating or not…

Wright: No, I’m not.

Interviewer: Where does the music come from?

Wright: It comes from the words.  I don’t know, it sounds good to my ear, you know, since I can’t make music – can’t play music, I make my music in my poems.  And just the way the lines sound to me – and there is a certain melodiousness, I think, to the way, at times, I can get the lines moving.  And then sometimes there’s not, on purpose.  But I never set out to be a singer – and in my lines it just sort of transpired – it just sort of happened.  And then once it sounded good, I said – well, that’s the way I want to try to write it.  …


Here’s an example of the music, taken from a description of the narrator’s visit to Emily Dickinson’s house in “Zone Journals” (1988)

… But I liked it there. I liked

The way sunlight lay like a shirtwaist over the window seat.

I liked the view down to the garden.

I liked the boxwood and evergreens

And the wren-like, sherry-eyed figure

I kept thinking I saw there

As the skies started to blossom

And a noiseless noise began to come from the orchard–


21 May
May 21, 2014

Those who have glanced at this blog know that I am no fan of the art-for-pensions deal– aka, the Grand Bargain– in its current form.  Here’s a recent op-ed on that theme.

A committee of the Michigan House has a key vote on Michigan’s proposed contribution to the deal today.  One of the interesting features of the political context is that Michigan governor Rick Snyder is a Republican; the legislature is controlled by Republicans; and as it turns out, Judge Gerald Rosen, the mediator who is purported to have masterminded the art-for-pensions deal, was once a Republican candidate for Congress.   Given that Michigan Republicans have had a fraught relationship with Detroit in the past, a decision to provide state support– either for this deal or in another form– would be a little like Nixon’s decision to go to China.


11 Apr
April 11, 2014

Welcome to everyone who finds their way here.  The seed for this blog was sown as I was writing and revising True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World, which will be published in October 2014.  My editor’s favorite way of hinting that a passage didn’t quite fit was to suggest I might want to “turn it into a blog post.”  The would-be blog posts needed a home, and I’d already been thinking about starting a blog.  So here we are.

True Paradox, the book, explores a variety of puzzles and paradoxes that are common to human experience, including consciousness, our experience of beauty and suffering, our inability to create a just social order, and our perception of an afterlife.  Christianity has surprisingly plausible explanations for each of these puzzles.

True Paradox, the blog, will ponder these issues and many others.

I am not especially prolific when it comes to blog posts, so I do not expect to post more than two or three times most weeks.  From time to time I plan to invite guest bloggers to join me and add an additional perspective.  But mostly it will just be me reacting to whatever seems noteworthy or interesting.