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Catherine Woodiwiss 08-30-2016

Image via Fort Greene Focus/Flickr

Saunders’ spirit of generosity, cloaked in the dark humor and melancholy of his stories, has made him something of a guru to younger writers. A practicing Buddhist, with a childhood in the Catholic Church, Saunders approaches his essays in particular with a spiritual frankness — comfortable with his own limits, unabashedly willing to admit what confounds him, and ready to tell the truth as faithfully as he can. 

In July, he published his months-long attempt to understand Trump supporters and how they came to invest so much in a highly divisive, unconventional candidate. He seems both a natural and a jarringly wrong fit to capture this election season — perhaps the writer best ready to chronicle the already-absurd, and the one most willing to take it seriously. And at this moment in 2016, Saunders may be a kinder national narrator than we deserve.

Cathleen Falsani 08-23-2011

A week or two after the 2004 election, I was dining with some friends in New York when the conversation turned to religion and politics -- the two things that you're never supposed to discuss in polite company.

George W. Bush had just been re-elected with the help of what was described in the media as "evangelical voters." And knowing that I am an evangelical Christian, my friends were terribly curious.

"What, exactly, is an evangelical?" one gentleman asked, as if he were inquiring about my time living among the lowland gorillas of Cameroon.

I suddenly found myself as cultural translator for the evangelical mind.

"As I understand it," I began, "what 'evangelical' really means is that a person believes in Jesus Christ, has a personal relationship with him and because of that relationship feels compelled to share their experience of God's love with other people. "How they choose to share that 'good news' with others is entirely up to the individual. Beyond that, the rest is details and style."

Jeannie Choi 08-12-2011

'Sunlight behind clouds 1, Cumbria, 2010' photo (c) 2010, John Davey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:

  • Sandwich coasters are fun.
  • Voters put corn kernels into jars with their favorite Republican presidential candidates.
Nathan Schneider 07-18-2011

Behind Bars. Fremantle Prisonphoto © 2009 Amanda Slater | more info (via: Wylio)On the first day of this month, inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison, joined by inmates in other prisons around the state, began a hunger strike to protest "inhumane and torturous conditions" in the Security Housing Unit, which holds inmates in solitary confinement for decades at a time. They're still at it; the state has admitted that as many as 6,600 inmates around the state have participated in the strike. Last week, corrections officials offered the prisoners a proposed deal, which they unanimously rejected.

This comes after a Supreme Court decision in May that ordered California to reduce its prison population, as overcrowding was causing "needless suffering and death."

Part of what's making the standoff worse is the belief that the strike is, in essence, a form of gang activity. For one thing, as Colin Dayan noted in passing in a New York Times op-ed, "How they have managed to communicate with each other is anyone's guess." The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), though, isn't so stumped.

A recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, and the subsequent fallout here in New York, hits close to home for many of us New Yorkers. The ruling, which came down on June 2, allows for the city of New York to restrict religious groups from meeting in schools

Jeannie Choi 06-24-2011
Here's a little round up of links from around the Web you may have missed this week:
Margaret Benefiel 01-19-2011
In the midst of the American discussions of violence and civility in public discourse following the tragic shootings in
Johnathan Smith 01-17-2011

In his "I Have a Dream" speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jeannie Choi 10-01-2010
John Perkins. Laughter yoga. A new planet. Here's a little round up of links from around the web you may have missed this week:
Joshua M.Z. Stanton 09-03-2010
Faith cannot exist without doubt. The lack of certainty enables us to engage in the holy, human endeavor of believing when we do not have empirical proof.
Ernesto Tinajero 08-13-2009
"Has he been pre-authorized? Because if the test hasn't been, it may not be covered and you may be caught with the bill as my husband and I learned." Her jagged words hit me like a political ad.
Rose Marie Berger 06-03-2009
Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba wrote the U.S. Army's report on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. He was then forced into retirement.
Melvin Bray 02-19-2009
What?! Really... the editors of the New York Post thought this would work?

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