Archive | Musings

Hyper-Individualism and Higher Education

    I talked in my last blog about the degeneration of civic education in our high schools and the consequent absence of any sense of obligation to the community in my college students. The primacy of hyper-individualism has affected—or infected—our higher education institutions as well. I lived most of my adult life either in […]

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Constitution

Educating Citizens

Education has always been a hot topic, and it probably should be. Teaching racial history is the current controversy, and I can’t imagine any justification for not teaching it—which does not mean uncritically adopting anybody’s theories about the nature of the white race. It’s too bad this needed conversation about how we are educating our […]

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heartland

Spreading the Word

    I’ve been writing about the political and social crisis in America for months, and the inevitable question becomes louder and louder in my head. And in yours too, I suspect. What do we do about it? My only answer has been—Write! My gratitude to those who have responded to my blogs, for language […]

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heartland

Fear, the Achilles Heel of the Midwest

My oldest friend with whom I’ve shared a house for almost thirty years was born and raised in Nebraska and insists I’m an Easterner. I’m not. Despite being raised in the community around a university that nicknames itself “Harvard of the West,” I don’t want to be. My mother comes from the prairies of Iowa […]

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Chicago Poems

On Being American

I’ve just opened Wallace Stegner’s Marking the Sparrow’s Fall, a collection of essays published by Stegner’s son after the author’s death. It’s been on my bookshelf for a long time, but never picked up for unknown reasons. In the opening essay, “Child of the Far Frontier,” Stegner writes of the power of certain images, smells, […]

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Tulips

Celebrate Spring!

It’s spring! Around Puget Sound, we just had a three-day storm off the Pacific with winds up to fifty miles an hour, but the tulip fields survived. A few golden ones from our garden, a bit windblown, light the dining table. The cherry trees are at the end of their glory, but the apple trees […]

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dreamstime_s_211694006

Buzz Words and the Power of Mob-Think

                        FREEDOM! REVOLUTION! CHOICE! LIFE! JUSTICE! Words that reach deep into the American soul, the heart of the moral order, even when they are demanding liberation from that order. All express the feeling that something is wrong or has gone wrong with society and […]

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habits of the heart

Talking About Religion and Politics

                    I talked last week about my journey from Protestant to Catholic and back again, and as I look back on experiences that shaped my life, I count the study of culture, especially the interweaving of politics and religion as a major force. Sociology and anthropology […]

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Boston Marathon exzplosion 4/15/13 Boston Marathon

What is it About Extremes?

    What is it about extremes that draw us so irrevocably toward our doom? For four years, we were ruled by a man whose love of power and belief in his own greatness took him, and us, to the verge of insanity. Now we watch Putin pull the world with him toward the same […]

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magoc book

The Power of the Imagination

  One of the greatest gifts of writing fiction is the ability to create characters and worlds, resulting in new perspectives that change your understanding of the people and the world around you. I remember inventing Carla in The Inheritors, then puzzling over her familiarity. I woke up one morning realizing that she sprang from […]

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The Stuff of Dreams

                            What is the American Dream? The most common definition we hear is the economists’—a wife, two kids, a home of your own and a car in the drive. That definition may serve its economic purpose, but it isn’t, to me, the […]

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Changing Racial Attitudes

  I ended the last blog by saying that the current race movement is carrying the country toward extremism and further and further from changing racial attitudes. Radical positions like condemning whole civilizations may sound noble, but it accomplishes nothing—except ridicule, perhaps. Consciousness-raising, making America aware that it has a race problem, has been going […]

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