It was hard for me, the summer after my freshman year of college, not to believe everything that Milan Kundera wrote in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Things he said stuck in my mind for years. Example one: little Franz staring down at his mother’s mismatched shoes, understanding what suffering means for the first time in his life. Example two: “love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desired limited to one woman).”
This article was originally published in the Summer ’06 issue of Revisions, Has American Culture Killed Christ?
“On squishing straw sandals, a young woman materialized with her whole face disfigured by a God-awful pink and piebald burn that started on her neck and stretched in a raw, corrugated mass up both cheeks past her eyes! Yossarian could not bear to look, and shuddered. No one would ever love her.”1 Joseph Heller, Catch-22
- Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), 383. [↩]
This article was originally published in the Spring ’10 issue of Revisions, Gender and Christianity.
After I said goodbye to my little niece on one of my last days in Sichuan, she walked off with her grandfather, swinging her red bag full of goodies. But as she walked away, she kept turning around to see if I was still there. I watched and waved until they were out of sight. I don’t remember how many times she turned around.
This article was originally published in the Fall ’06 issue of Revisions, Sex is Good.
In places where there is suffering from the atrocities of war, the injustices of corruption, or the devastation of neglect, it is natural for people to wonder about underlying realities. in neighborhoods and nations where visible poverty permeates every street corner, spiritual poverty becomes apparent as well to those who witness the tragedies and recognize that something is terribly wrong. But in places of affluence and material comfort, reminders of the existence of evil and suffering do not come so frequently nor so forcefully. Here in Princeton, there is no hunger and no thirst, no killing and no dying, as far as most eyes can see. In the midst of this plenty, Christians also become accustomed to viewing the world and the people around us according to appearances and facades, forgetting that there is the same underlying reality everywhere, at once quiet and catastrophic. In his letter to the Ephesian church, the apostle Paul reminded the early Christians that they had once been dead. The English word “dead” has lost some of its gravity with frequent usage, but Paul uses the Greek word nekros, which calls to mind the condition of a corpse. Why does Paul speak in such stark terms? Obviously the early Christians had not been physically dead. But they had been spiritually dead, in trespasses and sins. Paul uses the same word for spiritual death as for physical destruction to force upon us the severity of the sinner’s plight. To the Ephesians, Paul’s letter was a reminder that they had once been as good as walking corpses.
This article was originally published in the Winter ’05 issue of Revisions, Is there a Place for Christ in the Classroom?
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! –Ecclesiastes 4:9–10
I was brushing my teeth today when out of the blue, I thought of an old best friend I used to have in third grade. Her name was Cassie, short for Cassandra, but I can’t remember her last name anymore. She had wavy blonde hair and freckles, and our teacher’s name was Mrs. Ng. I remember we hated each other and used to fight all the time until one day, Mrs. Ng made us apologize and make peace. I don’t know how it happened, but from that day on, we were best friends. Perhaps in our mutual humiliation, we decided it wasn’t worth it anymore to quarrel, and so, we stopped, and discovered that we rather liked each other. Anyway, we were inseparable, the best of best friends.
This article was originally published in the Fall ’07 issue of Revisions, The Least of These.
I read Rose for the first time after a friend of mine wrote Li-Young Lee a letter and received from him a handwritten reply. I was fifteen then, and had taken the thin volume she offered me out of curiosity about the poet whose hand could write letters as well as poems. I never got to read the letter itself (it was one girl’s treasure, not two), but I did read the poems. Even then, the poetry had struck with a power that awed me, one that I search for now with a hungry eye— the power of beauty mixed with sorrow, and images raw enough to taste. But I was too young, and the power was still pure and simple, in the way of exquisite words on a page, contained between two covers, read in solitude and childhood.