LaVonne Neff is an amateur theologian and cook; lover of language and travel; wife, mother, grandmother, godmother, dogmother; perpetual student, constant reader, and Christian contrarian. She blogs at Lively Dust and reviews books for various magazines.

Posts By This Author

Which Party is the Biggest Spender? A. Democrats B. Republicans C. All of the Above

by LaVonne Neff 04-27-2010
In a recent New York Times column, David Brooks laments the loss of the political center.

The Second-Best Book on Sabbath

by LaVonne Neff 04-05-2010

If you read only one book about the Sabbath, it should be Abraham Joshua Heschel's 1951 classic<

Once Again, the Health-Care Bill Is Far From Perfect

by LaVonne Neff 03-31-2010
According to Robert Pear's recent article in The New York Times ("Coverage Now for Sick Children?

Lent on $2.50 a Day

by LaVonne Neff 03-29-2010

My friend Irene Groot decided to try the Lenten Experiment this year. "I recently sent off a couple of hundred dollars to a local soup kitchen," she e-mailed me this morning. "That's the money I saved taking up your challenge."

Health Care: Swiss Solidarity and the Scandalous 5%

by LaVonne Neff 03-22-2010

Whew. The health-care bill passed. It isn't the complete overhaul we need, but at least it's a start.

America's Health Care: Paying More for Poorer Outcomes

by LaVonne Neff 03-19-2010

Soon, they tell us, Congress will or will not pass a health-care bill. Detractors think universal health care will raise health-care costs, lower health-care outcomes, and dangerously increase the power of the federal government.

Committed: Family Values from Eat, Pray, Love Author Elizabeth Gilbert

by LaVonne Neff 03-05-2010

Regulating Wily Predators in Ecosystems and Economies

by LaVonne Neff 03-02-2010

African Lent

by LaVonne Neff 02-22-2010

Here's an idea for Lent that will do more good than giving up desserts: Read a book about contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. It's not a penance, though it can hurt.

An Ash Wednesday Memoir of Mortality

by LaVonne Neff 02-17-2010

Fifteen years ago next week, on my mother's 85th birthday and exactly one week before Ash Wednesday, my father died.

A Lenten Experiment

by LaVonne Neff 02-15-2010

In January last year, Mr. Neff and I began a Lenten experiment. We wanted to see if we could eat adequate amounts of tasty and nutritious food on a food-stamp budget. We also wanted to see what we might learn from the attempt. I recorded the experiment in fifty almost-daily posts on my blog, Lively Dust.

Married for Money: The Unnatural Union of Government and Business

by LaVonne Neff 01-26-2010

Health-Care Magic

by LaVonne Neff 01-21-2010
While talking with George Stephanopolous on Good Morning America yesterday, Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele neatly summarized th

Five Steps to Avoid Financial Disaster (Inflated Expectations, Part 2)

by LaVonne Neff 01-20-2010

[Continued from part 1] I have no idea how the United States will or can get out of the economic mess we've spent the last 50 years getting ourselves into. As individuals, though, we can take steps to avoid disaster.

50 Years of Inflated Expectations

by LaVonne Neff 01-19-2010

Over my working life, I have seen investments inflate. I have also seen prices inflate. And even though, on the whole, investments inflated more than prices, I have seen something more ominous: I have seen expectations inflate.

Do You Believe in (Compounding) Magic?

by LaVonne Neff 01-11-2010

Boomer Blues, Part 2: Have You Saved $1 Million Yet?

by LaVonne Neff 01-07-2010

Boomer Blues: 'We don't learn from the past, and we don't plan for the future.'

by LaVonne Neff 01-06-2010

Cheerful Books for the Bleak Midwinter

by LaVonne Neff 12-15-2009

The Archbishop and the President's Common Problem

by LaVonne Neff 12-09-2009

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
--William Butler Yeats, from "The Second Coming"