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The Gospel According to Hamilton

This piece by Cort Gatliff was originally published in January of 2016. For more from Gatliff (and others) on all things Hamilton, check out the Mockingbird Hamilton guide! My life can be divided into two distinct eras: Before Hamilton and After Hamilton. On October 1, 2015, after months of following the online hysteria and critical […]

On Quarantine Moods and Finding Grace “Here, within These Peeling Walls”

When Books and Music Console Us in Insolation

The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

Reflections for Ash Wednesday

Twenty-Five Picture Books for Grown-Ups

Grateful to Mandy Smith for compiling this. “You must never illustrate exactly what is written. You must find a space in the text so that the pictures can do the work.” – Maurice Sendak It’s said that medieval churches had stained glass windows for the illiterate masses. But I’m starting to think that, even in […]

The Moral Dilemma of Jesus is King

My friends and I approached the concession counter. (One of us wanted Milk Duds.) An employee, a black woman, glanced over and inquired which movie we three white men were seeing. I replied, “Kanye’s,” with a hopefully self-aware smirk. She rolled her eyes and shook her head wryly. A lot of people have some thoughts […]

All the Life We Cannot See (and All the Death We Should Be Doing)

Recently my four-year-old son has become obsessed with all things Hamilton: the musical, the person, the coffee table book I bought my husband and repurposed as a spontaneous gift for my boy, who flips through it daily and asks me to sing him the songs. He’s turned his older brother onto the soundtrack, which means […]

Needles & Nails: Finding Identity in Ink

I have little interest in getting a tattoo. Maybe it’s a matter of taste—I prefer expressing myself with music rather than body markings. Or maybe it’s my upbringing. Without a single tattoo in my immediate family there’s a sense of inertia working against me. But my wariness of tattoos is likely the fruit of a […]

Is Nothing Sacred?

When a part of Notre Dame Cathedral burned, there was an instant, worldwide flood of money inundating a Catholic place of worship. And a national icon. And a place of romance. But more than that, Notre Dame is, by design and history, sacred. Would the Paris Opera House in flames evoke the gut-crushing pain of […]

Camp: Notes on Grace

What does grace look like? If it made a movie or wore a dress, how would you describe it, aesthetically? It might be twee or kitsch, since the Gospel is such a personal message that, in our self-absorption, we often sentimentalize, then mass-produce. It could be sublime, as the drama of salvation involves the darkest […]

Rebuilding What We Never Made: Notre Dame

Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. (Matthew 17:4) Those tabernacles were the best way that St. Peter could fully express his love of Jesus. But […]

The Sermon in Stone at Notre Dame

Notre Dame has burned. The cathedral had — “had,” how terrible to write — one of the oldest surviving wood frames in Paris’ history, comprising 52 acres of trees. Workers cut those trees down in the 12th century and made the beams. Each beam required the wood of a whole tree. The intricate lattice of […]

I Am Not Karl Lagerfeld

A man who designed things died this week, but what ended was his central, lifelong design: himself. I design things every day, but I am completely clueless about my own design. Death imposes reflection on us, whether we like it or not. So when I see a person pass away who was virtually a cartoon of […]