Writers & Poets

A Jane Austen January

The enduring value of adding Jane Austen to my disciplines was not beholden to my expectation of enjoyment from a happy wedding nor was it dependent on my recognition that vice and virtue are at war in me and in the world. She won me by shaping a vision of joy built on virtue and a corresponding vision—gently elided in her prose—of the despair of vice.

Another Night Like All The Rest

Men are fallen creatures who think they’re perfectible when in fact they’re hardly improvable.

“Seventy Years Ago”: A Review of Red Stilts by Ted Kooser

Ordinary and unrefined, Kooser's poems suggest the steady hand of a craftsman who doesn’t need to go looking for the next big thing.

On the Front Porch with Ursula Le Guin

Those who do know her work might be a bit surprised if I suggest that Le Guin has a real porcher sensibility.

Shakespeare and the Pastoral Idyll

Why does Shakespeare offer us love instead of politics? Love is intimate. Love is about attachment. Love is about beauty. Love is local.

Work and Prayer: The Brief Friendship of Thomas Merton and Wendell...

Berry wrote in one of his letters to Merton that “you are one of the few whose awareness of what I’m doing here would be of value to me.” He is acknowledging that he and Merton lead lives of similar mission, lives shaped by work and silence.

Graced Grit: A Hymn-laced Eulogy to True Grit Author Charles Portis

U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn and Mattie bring a type of vigilante justice to Tom Chaney, and we are glad, but Portis doesn’t allow us to be easy about it. There is always a poison fit for the avenger, even if she is a mere child.

What Makes Places Great?: A Hypothetical Dialogue between G.K. Chesterton and...

MF: Mr. Chesterton, I know you have not received any training in economics at the University level.  So, I will keep this simple.  The...

Puppets and Portraits: Two Victorians

In “The Dreams of Mrs. Flintwinch thicken,” a short chapter of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit (1857), the kind-hearted Arthur Clennam visits his childhood home....

Losing (Some of) the Local Commons

The annual Prairie Festival at The Land Institute just outside Salina, KS, was held two months ago, but it's been much on my mind...