Broken Windows In Our City

I thought I would share for my blog readers an Op-Ed I wrote for this morning’s Seattle Times. It seems to have created quite a stir, hopefully for the good. Here is the link: [button color=”#COLOR_CODE” background=”#COLOR_CODE” size=”medium”...


Becoming Radiant People

Over last weekend I had the privilege of preaching at the historic Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California. This church is now guided by the terrific leadership and great preaching of my dear friend Greg Waybright. I talked about becoming radiant people. I think these wonderful folks at Lake...


Sing Us A Song Of Joy

I am delighted to be preaching at all services this weekend, October 12-13, 2013, at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. This important, historic church is now under the strong leadership of my dear friend Greg Waybright. What a vibrant place it is. I want to invite friends and SPU alums in the area to...


On Making The Brain Nice

Some of my best friends are brain scientists. Well, actually, there is only one, my dear friend John Medina, among the brightest, most affable, generous people I know. I have learned more about the brain from John than I deserve to know, given my bent of curiosity toward culture, text, literature,...


I Have No Idea What’s Going On

“I have no idea what’s going on”—that’s the way Henry Allen begins a brilliant, if discouraging, article recently in the WSJ (8/1/2013). I think he’s on to something, and his point is not generational. “I like to think,” he says, “I was especially good on the feeling-tone of...


We Are All Just A Little Crazy

We are all just a little crazy. Did you ever stop and think about that? We like to think our quirks are shared by everyone, but they aren’t necessarily. We are profoundly unique. That’s the positive way of looking at this. We are all just on the edge of normal, and that’s mostly good. We also...


Good Leadership And The A-Rod Factor

There’s something fundamental going on with the Alex Rodriquez fiasco. It was the same thing going on when King (LeBron) James anointed himself to play with Miami. There is something unbecoming when the ego gets oversized, overcharged, beyond respectability, beyond responsibility. It makes us a...


No Options When It Comes To Good Leadership

When I cut my teeth as a young leader, I tried, like most leaders, to sort out the essentials for good leadership. I was green and young and eager to do the best job I could for my university. Even in the heat of carrying out my duties, I read and studied and watched the models I came to admire....


Surprise At The McDonald’s In Nogales

N. T. Wright says that we are often startled by the “long-range signposts ” cropping out in our lives, those signals of “a reality which lies deeper in God’s dark purposes than we normally imagine.” We are often surprised by the fleeting, though certain glimpse of this “reality that lies...


John Lennon Got Some Things Wrong, Beautifully

On a beautiful, warm evening last week, Sharon and I attended an outdoor concert  performed by the California Philharmonic Orchestra. As the sun settled down over the San Gabriel Mountains in the background, we sat with friends and family, nibbling away at our better-than-picnic dinner, and...


What Does It Mean To Be Struck By Grace?

I feel like I was struck by grace this past week. Two reflections, by two writers, hit me at just the right, though unexpected, moment. Both are about how God visits us with grace from time to time, leaving us with little to say, but grateful. We come away feeling reclaimed, lifted up, pulled out of...


The Night My Dad Died

I have been writing a poem about the night my dad died. It was a very special night for me, a moment that has shaped my going forward, a moment so powerfully about resurrection I have never been the same. I thought it might be appropriate to send this out over the blog waves on this Dad’s Day...


The Little Way To A Good Life

I have just finished reading a remarkable book called The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life. The author is Rod Dreher, dubbed by David Brooks as “one of the country’s most interesting bloggers.” NY Times columnist Ross Douthat calls this...


The World Needs Our Universities

Our universities in America are the envy of the world. There are a lot of nations making every effort to catch up, China perhaps chief among them, but we remain at the top for access, research, creativity, and productivity. Actually affordability, believe it or not, ranks high too, given our...


On The Dangers Of Forgetting

I want to offer up a wonderful poem by the late contemporary Polish-American poet. I am fully aware there is risk in presenting such a poem because most people don’t read contemporary poetry these days. I get that. I suppose we have all been conditioned to think it is too difficult, way too...


What Should We Be Worrying About?

I continue to worry about the persistent devaluing of language. The pressures of speed in the production and consumption of writing does not bode well for our future. Add to that the powerful pressures from a visually oriented society, and we have a mixture of something not good for our lives or our...


Following Twitter

Here today, gone tomorrow. Or rather, here for the moment, gone in an instant. That’s the reality we experience with Twitter. Twitter is an amazing phenomenon. For those of you who do not know, we all sign up to put out these posts, all limited to 140 characters (not words!). And then you...


On Loneliness And Love

Edward Hopper is the master painter of loneliness, capturing life in the city in the early part of the twentieth century. This is the historical moment when the culture began dramatically to shift in new directions: Young women were on their own in the city for the first time; Families began to...


What Is Life?

What is life? Most of the time we are too busy even to ask the question, but when something happens, the death of someone we love, or perhaps the eruption of violence in our streets, well, the question inevitably crops up. Interestingly, we even ask the question when we encounter something...


Shakespeare And The Dangerous Power Of Ego

April 23rd is said to be Shakespeare’s birthday. Not sure when you last touched down in Shakespeare’s amazing world of exquisite language, intriguing plots, and penetrating insight into the human condition, but Shakespeare is surely one of the towering figures in all of literature. I happen to...


Boston And The Language Of Evil

Somehow on April 15, 2013 those horrific images of carnage at the Boston Marathon threw our world off balance. Our ship began to list again. As we witnessed legs blown from bodies, bloody faces marked with fear, people holding their heads from the concussive blows, a young man ripping off his shirt...


Will Someone Please Answer The Phone?

 Have you read recently one of those warning sheets from the pharmacy on the terrible things that will happen to you if you take the pill you just bought? They are exceedingly grim, as you know. Who’s dreaming up this language, this strategy of communication? You harbor some lurking doubt whether...


A Poem For Endings And New Beginnings

Here is a poem I have written recently. To be sure it says something about where I am in life, this amazing stage of new beginnings, the opening of a new chapter, a season of contentment, one without the relentless responsibilities and burdens of formal work. I am talking here about an end I can...


Thinking Again About Power

The new Pope is giving all kinds of signals that humility is the highest measure of great leadership. The seductions in other directions must be enormous: the sudden rush of standing on the world stage; the glitter of the ancient garb; the adoration of the faithful. Can you imagine the exhilaration...


Yearning For Christian Renewal

I am watching the developments within the Catholic Church with intense interest these days. While I am decidedly Protestant—by upbringing, church attendance, reading through the years, understanding of church history—I believe Christians everywhere should be pulling for the Catholic Church to be...


Simple As Beautiful

We need some answers these days. We need answers to some of our lingering, seemingly intractable problems that surround us. We need a vision out of the morass. We need to simplify some of the complexity in which we have entangled ourselves. Where do answers come from these days? So much of what we...


The Downton World: Order And Respect

Sharon and I are watching the first year’s series of Downton Abbey over Netflix. What a treat. We missed the whole first two years because of our crazy schedule, on the road, out for the evening, never at home at the right time. We are just about finished with year one. What pleasure it has been....


Rome And The Limits Of Taxation

Taxes are in the news these days. Throughout the presidential election, and subsequently during the fiscal-cliff debate, we held a grand national debate on taxation. Should we tax more? Or not? Is taxing damaging to our economy, or not? Will new taxes actually increase revenue and reduce our...


Be Kind, Be Good

I am writing a new book I am tentatively calling A Radiant People: The Christian Path Toward A Better World. The book is framed in part by that marvelous passage from Jeremiah imagining that we “shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord.” Radiant people, it seems to me, have discovered the...


Why Culture? What Is Culture?

I am constantly saying that an understanding of culture is critical to understanding our world. This has always been the case, and remains true today, though with the unraveling of culture, we are left to ponder where the center has gone. The following quotation speaks beautifully to this dramatic...


A Year Without Politics?

Is it possible we might have a year without obsessive attention to politics? Is it possible that we might pause for a year and engage in things more consequential? Is it possible that we might push down into the roots of our troubles instead of assuming always that our political leaders have the...


Thinking About The Year Ahead

I’m not very optimistic about the year out ahead. That’s a hard statement for me to make. I always tend to be the optimistic one in the bunch. But there is some sort of malaise that has settled down on our planet, on our country, on our various communities. I keep looking for the right vision...


A New Thing Is On Its Way

I trust you are off to a wonderful new beginning of 2013. As we look around our world, it is abundantly clear we have a lot of work to do. Things are a mess, aren’t they? We need to do a lot of thinking about how best to move forward. We need to roll up our sleeves to get the job done. I...


Messiah In The Mall

With two billion other Christians around the globe, I enter this season of preparation, a season of waiting and anticipation. This is Advent, the time when the Christ-child comes once again. When we say Jesus is Lord, we mean a new king has arrived. He has come, already, even now, on earth as it is...


Higher Education At A Crossroads

The President of MIT, Rafael Reif, said recently in the Wall Street Journal, that because of the “upheaval today coming from the technological change posed by online education,” we find  “higher education . . . at a crossroads not seen since the introduction of the printing press.” That is...


Christian Families And The Christian University

I received comments on my last post on the “Christian university by the numbers” that leads me to believe I may not have been fully clear. My point was not that Seattle Pacific is failing to attract its share of students and needs to shift strategies. This is certainly not the case. SPU clearly...


The Christian University—By The Numbers

Last spring, the presidents of the thirteen institutions in the Christian College Consortium were gathered at our annual meetings in Palm Desert. We were talking (enthusiastically) about the future of Christian higher education, as such Presidents tend to do, carrying on about the incredible value...


An Irish Catholic Brawl?

My mother told me never to call someone a liar. In our otherwise energetically verbal family, calling someone a liar was crossing a bright line. “Don’t go there, ever,” my mother would say. To call someone a liar was to make a statement about person, about character, about motives, and not...


Up For Grabs

I feel sorry for those replacement refs. Wanting to be a replacement ref would be like me wanting to be the CEO of Boeing or Microsoft for a few weeks. This is cool, I might say for a time. The extra pay is helpful. The taste of real power is exhilarating.  But then suddenly, in the heat of a major...


Why Ships Sink

David Brooks’ column today ends up being about the Chicago teachers’ strike. But what interests me most is his opening overview of the two tracks of our modern economy. Here is what he says: Modern nations have two economies, which exist side by side. Economy I is the tradable sector. This...


Where Have All The Men Gone?

For years I’ve sat through anguished discussions about why more women than men are going to college. A lot more in fact. In most colleges and universities these days the numbers are at 60% women, sometimes creeping even higher. We used to think this was a phenomenon of the Christian campus,...


Cutting College Costs?

In his acceptance speech for the nomination of his party in Charlotte last night, President Obama made glancing reference to reducing college tuition, pledging to “work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next 10 years.” This is an echo of his State...


The Monster Under The Bed

Ego is the curse of good leadership. I have come to believe, out of a lot of painful experience, the ego is a monster under the bed waiting to pounce on leaders, waiting to eat them alive, waiting to suck the life out of worthy ideas. Here then is my advice to leaders: Don’t let your ego get hold...


Let Us Show The World Our Shine

I have been thinking again these days about  the notion of joy. We all want the gift of joy, don’t we? And it sometimes seems like a gift, not something we can conjure up. And so I have been asking myself: Well, what then is the source of our joy? What must I do to live joyously? And why does joy...


May I Disagree With David Brooks, For Once?

  I usually agree with most of what David Brooks writes in his twice-weekly column in The New York Times. He is one of my hero-commentators. I love his balance. I love his consistent insight that politics is understood through culture, not the other way around. After two visits to my campus, at...


The Road Ahead: My Advice To Our Candidates

I find myself wanting to say some things to our presidential candidates. I offer this advice, of course, for what it’s worth, which, considering the price, isn’t much. First, I want to say what our candidates surely know: We have some very real problems in our world, and those problems...


A Nation In Decline?

So many writers these days are talking about America as a nation in decline. I am one who happens to feel there are some dangerous signals of such decline. For all of my usual instincts toward optimism and hope and opportunity, I am troubled these days, fearful about the future. Most of our broader...


The Paradox Of Particularity

Great writing grows out of the specific content of a writer’s life. I believe the same could be said of leadership. The writer’s instincts are guided, in the best of writing, by the axiom that the more particular the story, the more universal the message. This is tricky business, to be sure,...


Put Out Into the Deep, Part 3

My Last Commencement Speech Philip W. Eaton, SPU President June 9, 2012 On June 9, 2012, SPU President Philip Eaton delivered the Commencement address at Seattle Pacific University’s 2012 Commencement exercises. His Commencement address is being published here in three parts. You can also read...


Put Out Into the Deep, Part 2

My Last Commencement Speech Philip W. Eaton, SPU President June 9, 2012 On June 9, 2012, SPU President Philip Eaton delivered the Commencement address at Seattle Pacific University’s 2012 Commencement exercises. His Commencement address is being published here in three parts. You can also read...


Put Out Into the Deep, Part 1

My Last Commencement Speech Philip W. Eaton, SPU President June 9, 2012 On June 9, 2012, SPU President Philip Eaton delivered the Commencement address at Seattle Pacific University’s 2012 Commencement. His Commencement address is being published here in three parts. I want to thank Dr. Congdon...


A Walk in the Garden Alone

Along with two billion Christians around the globe, I enter this Holy Week reverently, expectant, full of awe and hope. This season in the life of Christians is charged with meaning and mystery. It is a poignant time, a time of immense curiosity, a time of profound sadness and expansive joy. We...


How to Go About Changing Our Behavior

In his weekly column last week, David Brooks takes up the question of how, if at all, we can change our behavior. This is often a theme of Brooks, as it is with many writers of our day who feel something is out of whack and needs changing. The question we often ask is whether we can change what we...


Plant growing through crack

Good News for a Bad News World

We are all yearning for good news these days: good news that our dismal economy has begun to bottom out, that once again we are creating new jobs; good news that Europe and America have begun to live within their means; good news that school reform is beginning to get real results, building lives,...


Rick Steele

Profound Truth, Clear Sentences, Such Joy

Last week I received a note from my dear friend, Professor Rick Steele, one of the stars on what has become such an extraordinary faculty of the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University. Dr. Steele is my go-to guy when I have questions about theology or church history, in part because he is...


Pyramids

Fretting Again About Splintered Culture

I am still fretting about the fact that we don’t read or watch the same things. The same books? Are you kidding? The same TV shows? Not likely. We don’t even watch the same news. I continue to ask the question how a culture can cohere when no one is paying attention to at least somewhat similar...


Steven Pinker - The Better Angels of Our Nature

Are We Less Violent Than Ever?

Stephen Pinker, the Harvard professor who a few years ago famously and fiercely opposed anything having to do with “faith” in Harvard’s revision of its core curriculum, has written a new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. The book has become much-quoted and...


Saying Merry Christmas Downtown

I have become subversive. I have begun to say Merry Christmas in downtown Seattle, on airplanes, in the grocery store. I have no need whatsoever to be offensive to my Jewish friends, to Muslims, or to the ardent secularists who seek to control our public language. But I find myself puzzled why...


Call It the Starbucks’ World

We live in a very splintered society. Call it the Starbucks’ world where everyone orders up exactly their own pleasure: “I’ll have a tall, no-whip mocha” or “give me a grande, whole-milk, no-foam latte.” It’s very cool, of course, but it is a whole new phenomenon that has sunk into our...


A New Starting Point for Thought

What follows is an excerpt from my opening convocation speech this fall at Seattle Pacific University called The Upside-Down University. I am talking here about the deeper contributions the Christian university can make for our time of disintegrating culture. I think this applies to thinking...


Upside-Down Leadership

I have been speaking and thinking a lot lately about what kind of leadership we need in our world today. We live in turbulent, troubled times, and we are crying out for leaders to step up to the challenges we face — economic, social, cultural challenges — challenges that are perhaps...


How Can We Sing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land?

This is the question the Psalmist asks. This is the question for all Christians in our post-Christian world. This is the question I ask myself all the time. Last week I ran into a wonderful little Psalm that speaks so beautifully to this challenge. By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept as we...


On Prayer and the Nation

A couple of weekends ago, in Houston, Texas, a group of organizers staged a huge rally to pray for our nation. Governor Rick Perry of Texas, one of the organizers of the rally, called out the reasons, as he sees it, for prayer at this time: “discord at home . . . fear in the marketplace . . ....


Our Leaders Are on Vacation?

“The world is falling apart, and our leaders are on vacation,” a friend of mine said with disgust and frustration. Financial and economic indicators plunged precipitously that day, and we were searching for answers. Where have all the leaders gone, we asked. Shouldn’t our leaders be on call to...


Is Our Culture Going to Make It?

So many people lament these days about something missing in our culture, something lost, something perhaps never to be retrieved. We seem to be wandering around a bit bewildered. We seem to be carrying around a map of reality that no longer points out where we are or where we should be going....


Signs of Fatigue in the Culture

When recently asked what he was reading, Mick Jagger said he had just picked up Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel Freedom: “It’s not really my kind of thing,” Jagger said, “but everyone was talking about it so I thought I’d have a look.” I’m not sure why the book is not Mick Jagger’s...


Engaging the Culture in a World Out of Whack

I have always felt that Christians must stay tuned quite intensely to what’s going on in the world. This is part of what we call our signature commitments at Seattle Pacific. But sometimes when we look out across the landscape of our society, we sense something is out of whack, or at least out of...


The Problem of Pain and God’s Good Assurance

“It is what it is” — I have so often found myself using this phrase. We all use it from time to time. I suppose it is something like saying “roll with the punches,” or perhaps “let the chips fall,” or “stuff happens.” It feels good to use this phrase. It implies that I’ve got...


Leisure as a Foundational Principle?

In a previous post I talked about how we have built a culture obsessed by work. Recognizing the historical American devotion to a strong work ethic, and the good things that come from hard-working, productive lives, perhaps we have overdone it. At times we act as if there is nothing but work. As a...


Swan

Letting Go Of Work

I have been thinking about how one lets go of work. Let me say first that I love my job. I believe that a strong work ethic is essential to a productive, meaningful life. But, unfortunately, we so often get ourselves tangled up, either working most of the time, or thinking about our work when we are...


The Christian University Has Something More to Offer

In their recent, much-noted indictment on the failure of higher education in America today, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa point out that “the future of a democratic society depends upon educating a generation of young adults who can think critically, reason deeply, and communicate effectively.”...


A Crisis of Value

Readers responded in remarkable numbers to my posts on building better K-12 schools in America. Thank you for your energy and ideas. I plan to write much more in the weeks and months ahead about this enormous challenge in our midst. In tandem with the K-12 crisis of educating our young people,...


Blame and the Future of Education

I got lots of comments on my last post on the crisis in our schools. I was encouraged by the commitment and passion of so many people out there, those who are in the trenches as teachers and administrators in our schools. I sensed their own frustrations about what gets in the way of building better...


School children from Camden, New Jersey

Education Is Where We Love Our Children Enough

In The New York Times on Sunday, April 10, 2011, Jonathan Mahler has an interesting article about the “deadlock” that has settled into our debate about school reform in America today. Either we are for teachers’ unions or we are not; either we favor charters schools or we don’t; either we...


Demaray Clock Tower

Leaders Speaking Out

Several years ago, John T. Casteen III, then president of the University of Virginia, made a statement that has haunted me in my own leadership. Because of certain constraints, he said, university presidents, and many other leaders as well, cannot (or believe we cannot) take the kinds of principled...


On Solitude One More Time

Several weeks ago I mentioned an article by William Deresiewicz called “Solitude and Leadership.” The article was adapted from a speech Deresiewicz gave to the plebe class at the Military Academy at West Point. It appears in the spring issue of The American Scholar. Because I’ve been...


university

The Distinctive Culture of a University

Our society is constantly trying to measure the distinctions among colleges and universities. U.S. News and World Report has made a fortune on its annual publication ranking our institutions. People watch these things. Most presidents talk about how these rankings don’t matter, until their school...


A Universal Yearning for Freedom

A week ago two essays appeared in separate newspapers — The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times — suggesting much the same thing: The desire for liberty and freedom seem to reside universally in people all across the globe. Both authors, Michael Novak and David Brooks, acknowledge that...


We All Need Solitude

I found myself remarking to a colleague and friend the other day that “I am absolutely overwhelmed at the moment. There is just flat-out too much to do. I can’t even find time to think.” My friend graciously tried to find those things I could just “let go.” Not an easy task, but necessary...


Can We Really Multitask?

Each year in late December David Brooks gives out what he calls the Sydney Awards for the best magazine articles of the year. I always love this column. I think I am attracted to his recommendations in part because Brooks is attuned to the power of culture, as I try to be. One award winner this year...


Putting Out Into the Deep

I serve on the national board of the National Association Of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). Over the last four days we were back in Washington, D.C., trying to sort out how best to navigate our way in private higher education through the turbulent waters of dramatic political change...


A Way of Being Human We Never Imagined Before

In his latest book titled After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, the great N.T. Wright says that what the disciples discovered in Jesus was “a way of being human which nobody had ever imagined before. This was a way of generosity and forgiveness, a way of self-emptying and a...


What Might Be the Lessons From Chile?

We are still groping to understand the extraordinary sense of triumph as each of those 33 Chilean miners was brought to the surface in their banged-up, little tube. There was so much that could go wrong, from the first days that the miners were discovered trapped a half a mile beneath the surface,...


Parthenon

What Happens When the Culture Collapses?

In her weekly Saturday column in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan alerted me to an amazing article on the economic crisis in Greece. The article is written by Michael Lewis and appears in Vanity Fair. The discovery of this crisis took place with breathtaking speed: “Last October,” Lewis...


John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman and the Soul of the University

I recognize it has been some weeks since I have been active on the blog. I am truly sorry about that. So many things have pressed in on my time and attention. In late August, I was determined to finish the final draft of my book, which will be coming out in the months ahead (more on that later)....


Broken People and the Problem of Community

It was warm in Seattle last night. This is the season for the long evenings in our northern part of the world, and finally we are getting a taste of summer. I decided to go for a walk in downtown Seattle. People had come out of their winter caves and were strolling through the late summer light and...


Colliding Maps

Choosing Our Stories Carefully

I have written and spoken at length about a comment made on my campus some years ago by the late, great Jewish novelist Chaim Potok. Potok said that day that “we live in a world of colliding maps.” We all construct our maps of reality out of the bits and scraps of information we have been given...


King James, the Big Decision, and What to Do About Character

The over-hyped LeBron James circus is finally over. We can all take a deep breath now, a sigh of relief, and get on with our lives. We know, we know, where the 25-year-old King James (he also has a tattoo on his back proclaiming himself the “Chosen 1”) is going to play basketball next year....


Team USA plays Ghana in the 2010 World Cup

Soccer and the Meaning of America

I begin writing these reflections on Saturday morning several hours before the United States meets the Black Stars from Ghana in World Cup competition. I have the delightful opportunity to gather with some of my kids and grandkids over burgers and stuff to watch what is billed as an incredible...


Video: A Message to Friends

Watch this brief video of President Philip W. Eaton. He shares some of his thoughts about responding to our challenging economic times, and what lies ahead as SPU strives to become even more effective and responsive to the needs of our world. [vimeo]http://vimeo.com/10600981[/vimeo]


Can Politics Ever Provide the Solutions We Need?

I am sorry I’ve had to be away from the blog for a few weeks. I have been writing tons of things — including the last draft of my book — and just not able to spend my Saturday mornings lately in this special reflective time. I hope we can pick up where we left off. I’ve been thinking about...


One Final Note on Character, Part IV

One Christmas Eve a couple of years ago, as we began a joyous dinner in our home with our whole family, I opened our time with a blessing for our meal. I gave thanks for our family as we gathered together to celebrate the baby Jesus on this sacred evening in the Christian calendar. The next day we...


On Character and Education Again, Part III

When I was a young faculty member some years ago we often engaged in some fairly intense discussion about the role of the university in the life of the student. Some of the old assumptions needed to be challenged, to be sure. “The Times They Are a-Changin,” the great Bob Dylan reminded us so...


On Teaching Character, Part II

Last week on the blog I was reflecting on the profound discouragement we all feel as we witness, on an almost daily basis, eruptions of ugly scandalous behavior in our midst. “What in the world is going on here?” we ask. “Doesn’t it seem to be worse than it used to be?” “And why is it so...


Can We Actually Teach Character Anymore?

It’s Saturday morning, my time for catching up on things, for some reading and reflection. I’ve been on the road so much lately, I have not attended to the news as carefully as I would like. But the news this morning is depressing. There is no better word for it. Washington seems locked in an...


Can We Actually Choose the Stories by Which We Live?

I have written and spoken at length about a comment made on my campus some years ago by the late, great Jewish novelist Chaim Potok. Potok said that day that “we live in a world of colliding maps.” We all construct our own little maps and stories of reality out of the bits and scraps of...


My Top Five (Or 10) Book Lists

I have put together a list of My Top Five Books. I have also included a list of My Top 10 Books of Literature. Personal, eclectic, even eccentric as any such list must be these days, nevertheless, these are great books, books that have hugely influenced my life and my thinking about things. I hope...


The Reverend Martin Luther King, Suffering, Hope, and Haiti

Over the last few days, we have been assaulted with the horrifying images of bodies being dumped into trucks, images of people not only without shelter but also without water, images of desperation and suffering beyond belief — and we have experienced that numbness that comes with helplessness. ...


Five Traits of a Great Leader

I have been thinking and writing lately about leadership. I don’t usually write about this topic, in part because I think there is too much writing and perhaps too little of the actual doing of leadership. I also think leadership cannot be a topic about itself. Leaders lead a cause. Real leaders...


The Hammer, the Train Set, and the BB Gun

Our vivacious, ever-so-verbal, 2-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Esmee, told Santa Claus the other day that she wanted a yo-yo and a hammer for Christmas. Oh the marvel of a child’s imagination this time of year. Should Santa comply, I’m a little worried about what that hammer might do around...