Mary Magdalene

The door closes behind me. A short hallway I don't resist, as I did not decline your invitation an hour ago. It came quite unexpectedly amid the smoke, the worn-out armchairs, the endless litanies of gain and loss. It came with welcome urgency and added to my confusion, which accompanies me, step by step, as if it were hard to trust its outstretched arms, the region of light, the swaying of a silver fir in the arctic. As if thousands of years must pass before here, in this very room, simple but far from slight, it would be possible to believe in you again.

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War Stories

It's May 8, the sixtieth anniversary of V-E Day, and I'm standing in Berlin amid 1,000 neo-Nazis, gathered behind a small army of riot police to protest the end of World War II. Of course, any overt expression of Nazism is banned over here (the most common neo-Nazi accoutrement today is medical tape covering various tattoos and t-shirt slogans), and the sponsor of the rally--the extremist Nationalistische Partei Deutschlands (NPD)--disavows any direct connection to the Third Reich. But practically everyone sports a shaved head, and even those who don't, such as a group of buttoned-down, middle

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God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It By Jim Wallis (HarperSanFrancisco, 384 pp., $24.95) Taking Faith Seriously Edited by Mary Jo Bane, Brent Coffin, and Richard Higgins (Harvard University Press, 381 pp., $29.95) The phenomenon of martyrdom demonstrates that political success and personal salvation do not generally go together. The faithful find grace not in building winning coalitions, but in worshipping God's glory. Gazing toward heaven means stumbling on earth, a small price to pay for the rewards that await. For a deeply religious society, the Unit

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DOUBT (Walter Kerr Theatre) ROMANCE (Atlantic Theater Company) THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT (LAByrinth Theater) THE PILLOWMAN (Booth Theater) THOM PAIN (BASED ON NOTHING) (DR2 Theatre) THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA (Vivian Beaumont Theater) Contrary to received opinion, the American theater is currently hosting as many good playwrights, and as many strong plays, as ever before. Although virtually none of these dramas originates on Broadway, a handful eventually enter the mainstream through the channels of resident, Off-Broadway, and London theaters. What follows is a brief roundup of six new work

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Correspondence

ACCOUNT ABILITY Professor N. Gregory Mankiw says that extra government borrowing required by personal accounts "is offset by a reduction in the government's liability to pay future Social Security benefits" ("Personal Dispute," March 21). This may be true in a balance-sheet sense, but it is not the end of the story. The government's liability on Treasury bonds differs from its liability on Social Security. If you increase the government's liability on Treasury bonds and reduce its liability to pay future Social Security benefits, you are doing three things.

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Prayer Center

It's 8 a.m.

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Wooden Frame

It's show-and-tell day in 50 Birge Hall. At least as close to it as you get at an elite university like Berkeley. George Lakoff, the instructor for this introductory cognitive science course, has asked students to bring in examples of popular "texts" containing hidden metaphorical meanings--the kind that play subtle tricks on the human mind. First out of the gate is a British student who holds up an ad for Splenda, the sugar substitute. The ad features a young girl sitting on her father's shoulders and covering his eyes with two large cookies. "Lucky girl," it reads. "You've got a Splenda dadd

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Close, but ...

It's Thursday evening in Trinidad, Cuba, and Fidel Castro has a captive audience. In house after house on the cobblestoned main street of this river town 200 miles southeast of Havana, the image of El Comandante flickers from Soviet-era TV sets. Of course, it's hard not to score high ratings when your country has only two TV stations, both of them state-run, and the neighborhood Committee for the Defense of the Revolution keeps watch on who's tuning in and who isn't.

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The 9/11 Commission was "set up to fail." So says its chairman, former Republican Governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean. "If you want something to fail," he explains, "you take a controversial topic and appoint five people from each party. You make sure they are appointed by the most partisan people from each party--the leaders of the party. And, just to be sure, let's ask the commission to finish the report during the most partisan period of time--the presidential election season." He could have added that President Bush and Republican leaders in Congress had agreed to create the commission onl

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The most telling moment of last night's conservative salute to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay at the Capital Hilton in Washington came just after dinner. A "dessert surprise" had been promised in the program, and sure enough, once the waiters had shuffled off with the last of the dinner plates and the depleted bottles of wine, the lights dimmed. Right on cue a bluegrass band struck up the opening chords to "If I Had a Hammer," a nod to DeLay's nickname.

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