Archive | Musings

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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How to Start a New Year

  I don’t know how to start this new year that feels already old. The usual resolutions seem irrelevant, the questions bewildering, the answers out of reach. I don’t know how to fix the mess the country has gotten itself into, a mess that is heading toward another crisis on Election Day. I can only […]

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Ferguson

Race in America: Stuck in a Rut

Browsing through old blogs, I found this seven-year-old blog (Dec 5, 2014) that seems to sum up my feelings today pretty well. Here, with some revisions, it is:     I watch today’s protests and feel very old, very frustrated, and very discouraged. I watched the same explosions and protests in the 1950s, 1960s, and […]

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The Role of Race

    I’ve been hard on identity politics and its role in polarizing the nation, so I want to be clear. Race is a critical issue for the country, and one that needs to be addressed. I understood and supported Martin Luther King and the peaceful protests of the Sixties Civil Rights movement of the […]

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