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Posts tagged "Alan Jacobs"


Another Week Ends: Nervous Breakdowns, the Separation of Church and Peloton, Woundability, Power Moms, and Love Stories

1. While much of the Internet is saying that the rest of the Internet just needs to relax already, Jerry Useem, at the Atlantic, is saying something else. We need not a mere few deep breaths but a full-scale crash-and-burn: “Bring Back the Nervous Breakdown,” is the title of his excellent write-up on the historical […]

Norman Rockwell, Ted Lasso, and Isaiah’s Coup de Grâce

I received a remarkable gift for Christmas, the kind a grown man shares on Instagram. No, not the mint condition New Wave Dave that one brother gave me. I’m referring to something from the other brother, a print of Norman Rockwell’s 1957 painting, “Lift Up Thine Eyes.” Perhaps you’ve seen it. In classic Rockwell style, […]

Wrestling with Scripture (and God)

Struggling with a Given Text, Whether Scripture or Literature, is Critical to Receiving a Blessing from It

Variations on Beowulf, Feminist and Christian

“Why not Face / the Boss, and at Death Seek / Salves, not Scars?”

Lay Down Your Weary Smartphone

The Surprisingly Tragic Death of the Know-It-All

Another Week Ends: Hospital Housekeepers, the Resurrection, Systemic Racism, “Amazing Grace,” David Hume, and Ramy’s Performance of Religion (and Ours)

1. We’ll begin this weekend’s round-up with a truly lovely story of grace. Reported by Daniel Burke at CNN, it’s about a hospital housekeeper, Rosaura Quinteros, whose job was to mop floors, pull trash, and clean surfaces in the rooms of COVID-19 patients. In one particular room, the patient’s last rites had been administered; via […]

Another Week Ends: The Odd Gospel, Esther Perel, William Blake, Alan Jacobs, Henry David Thoreau, and the Coronavirus Prayer

1. Currently the most talked-about man in the world, aside from Anthony Fauci I suppose, might be Job — that long-sufferer from the land of “Uz” — because now, in this pandemic, aren’t we all Job? Fearing God, turning away from evil, rising early in the morning and making burnt-offerings on behalf of our children. […]

One Thing You Can’t Say About Pope Pius XIII

The following comes to us from Alan Jacobs. There are many things you could say about Pope Pius XIII, AKA Lenny Belardo. You could say that is he a saint. You could say that he is a con artist. You could say that he is a man of great humility, who wants to become “the […]

Another Week Ends: Lost Dog, Greta Thunberg, a Trip to the Future, Dubious Evangelicalism, David Powlison, Ken Burns and Lil Nas X

1. Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep is one of the great stories in the Bible, and also ever. A shepherd leaves behind everything in search of one lost sheep — and of course, it’s about more than that. It’s about humankind’s wandering nature and the tirelessness of God. But if you’ve heard the story […]

Right: An Unspoken Sermon

This one comes to us from Alan Jacobs. Anthony Trollope’s novel He Knew He Was Right is, like Shakespeare’s Othello, a story of jealousy. But not really. Its true subject is something far worse, and far more common, than jealousy. And if we understand the real point of the story, we’ll understand something about Christian […]

Whatever It Takes: Friendship and Avenging the Fallen

This one’s for Kristin and Anna; Andy, Blake, Caleb, Chris, Jeff, Nathan, Reed, and Trevor. Some spoilers follow. “If a man should importune me to give a reason why I loved him [his friend, Etienne Boetie] I find it could no otherwise be expressed, than by making answer: because it was he, because it was […]

Please Come Home for Christmas

This one comes to us from none other than Alan Jacobs.

Christmas, properly understood from an adult perspective, is always tinged with melancholy. If we don’t grasp this instinctively, Advent will teach it to us. The church’s year begins with Advent, and Advent begins, really, at that moment when God says that Eve’s offspring will one day crunch the head of the serpent who tempted her. That’s when the waiting starts, and what we’re waiting for is someone to come fix the mess we’ve made of the things that were put in our trust. That He eventually comes is wonderful beyond hope; that we so desperately needed Him to come … well, that’s where the melancholy comes in.

And that’s why the best Christmas song, for me, will always be Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home for Christmas.”

The song begins with three peals of a bell, and for all we know it could be a funeral bell, what used to be called a “passing bell,” so slow and measured is the pealing. We may be encouraged when Charles tells us, straight off, that not just this bell but all the bells are ringing “the glad glad news” — except that Charles isn’t glad. He is loveless and friendless, and while he doesn’t say so explicitly, you get the sense that much of the blame for his condition is his own. Certainly he doesn’t condemn anyone else.

He has only one hope — or maybe not even that, maybe just a plea: Please come home for Christmas. If that happens … well, let’s just say that what he wishes for places a great weight on one person’s shoulders, more weight than a mere mortal can bear. But if it’s a certain person — if it’s One who can indeed make all things right — then the plea becomes hope, and the hope comes to be fulfilled. In that case the last words of the song will be the best words of all:

There’ll be no more sorrow
no grief and pain
‘cause I’ll be happy at Christmas once again

And then one last peal of the bell, a peal — no doubt this time — for the glad glad news.