Empathy in Isolation: Sharing Loneliness with Nick Carraway

In Act IV of Coriolanus, Shakespeare uses a seemingly inconsequential simile about a solitary dragon leaving its swamp. It is in this simile that Shakespeare coined the adverb “lonely.” Similarly, in Act III of Hamlet, Polonius tells Ophelia to sit down and read, so that her “loneliness” would appear natural. It is odd that loneliness—a feeling universally understood today—is a relatively new term, and it … Continue reading Empathy in Isolation: Sharing Loneliness with Nick Carraway

“The Riddle We Can Guess”: On Clarity and Ambiguity in Writing

“The riddle we can guess / We speedily despise.” —Emily Dickinson, #1222 I was lying in the backseat of the car on an early October day in 2014, waiting while my mom grabbed a few things from the grocery store. It was probably very hot, as Tennessee autumns tend to be, but all I can recall about that moment was the book, William Faulkner’s The Sound and … Continue reading “The Riddle We Can Guess”: On Clarity and Ambiguity in Writing

Caroling with Scrooge

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Come December (or November, or October—there’s no accounting for taste), when our townspeople begin to erect, not only trees and lights, but monstrous, inflatable snow globes; when entire radio stations change over to non-stop holiday music, oppressive with a surfeit of sleigh bells; when our august retail institutions flood the market with plastic consumer goods designed to … Continue reading Caroling with Scrooge

The Root of Everything: Witnessing Divine Love in “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

In that last week of clammy August malaise that inevitably precedes the start of the semester, my family and I often go to the “second-hand” theater a couple of blocks away in search of discounted entertainment and free air-conditioning. This past summer, our feature of choice was Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Neville’s documentary sketches the life of Fred Rogers, whose unique careers … Continue reading The Root of Everything: Witnessing Divine Love in “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

“A God That Can Dance”: Nietzsche and the Logos

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. —John 1:1 In his magnum opus, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed that he “would only believe in a god who could dance.” Nietzsche … Continue reading “A God That Can Dance”: Nietzsche and the Logos

Coming Home and Other Memories: The Heart (or Art) of the Story

“We’ll Meet Again,” Vera Lynn Let’s say goodbye with a smile, dear Just for a while, dear We must part Don’t let this parting upset you I’ll not forget you, sweetheart We’ll meet again Don’t know where Don’t know when But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day Keep smiling through Just like you always do ‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far … Continue reading Coming Home and Other Memories: The Heart (or Art) of the Story