The Nightstand

Organized Leisure and the Construction of American Community 

Was the experience of “community” in an Ohio town during Ervin’s lifetime fundamentally more compelling and authentic than has been possible after the post-war economic boom? Or should Ervin’s passion for organizing and social service be seen as an attempt to compensate for an actual fragility of communal life?

Dedication: In Praise of the Long-Haulers

Pete Davis lauds the “long-haulers,” people who long ago ignored the chorus which urges our younger people to “keep your options open,” and to keep building up for your Main Chance in life, the payoff after all that meritocratic, sweaty ladder-climbing.

The Restorative Tonic of Wildness

Particularly in a culture that values comfort and convenience, we need to listen to those who have encountered wilderness with the humility and attentiveness necessary to receive its instruction.

“Passionate in the Pursuit of Awe”: A Review of American Divine

In “American Divine,” it would seem that the pursuit is not so much a pursuit of divinity but rather the experience of it—the awe, which in this instance is private and individualistic, potentially addictive, and more an expression of personal epiphanies than a community-shared theology.

Making Meaning in the Haunted Midwest

Those of us committed to the Midwest and its literature can and should mourn the damages done to our region by our habits of transience. But we must also recognize, as these two books help us do, that it is not just the Midwest, but life itself, that is “fluid and impermanent.”

A Book to Guide the Church: The 1662 Book of Common...

The IE is essentially the 1662 BCP of old, but unlike the Cambridge edition it is not just that and nothing more—it is the 1662 judiciously tweaked and supplemented in a way calculated to attract both newcomers to the BCP and long-time Anglicans.

All Shall Be Well: A Review of Raft of Stars

Then I read a book like Raft of Stars, and I am again filled with wonder. Not just at nature–at rivers, forests, and fields–but at my children themselves.

Read Not the Times. Read the Eternities: A Review of Reading...

When our own churches are divided and bubbled up in their own media worlds, unable to agree on basic “facts” related to current events, you know its time to take a more theological approach to this thing we call the “news.” Bilbro’s rich reflection is a fine place to start; let it be read and discussed widely in the families, churches, and neighborhoods that offer us real and lasting alternatives to the silos that so often distract us.

Paul Kingsnorth and the Truer Path of Worship

A short review cannot do justice to the range of reasons visitors to the Porch should read Kingsnorth’s three novels, so I’ll begin simply by saying: Read them. These are thought-provoking, challenging, and linguistically creative novels.

I’m Over the American Homer

I’m not canceling Whitman. But my own enthusiasm for his poetry is waning. The poet whose daring versification and daring lifestyle were once seen as the epitome of counter-culture has come to seem to me all too mainstream, the very voice of an age of superficial egotism.