Springtime in Rome

A good, very long day in Rome. We started the morning by walking over toward St. Peter’s Square for a better view of St. Peter’s than the behind-the-dome afternoon sun affords. We weren’t disappointed, thanks to continuing wonderful weather: As it got toward noon, we met up with Bobby Schindler along the Conciliazione, who had…

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Tiber, crystalline-emerald green

We had intended to head to Florence today, but I woke up feeling somewhere between groggy and potentially sick, so reluctantly canceled that in order to sleep more. I tend to think those decisions are almost always wrong in retrospect, and I really regret not making it to Florence today, but this slower Sunday in…

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Pantheon mass

Earlier today, we were enjoying the fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps. I searched for nearby places for a Sunday vigil mass. The Pantheon, or Sancta Maria ad Martyres, stood out as the best option, so we walked over for 5pm mass. It turned out to be a very special, memorable experience; certainly…

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Arrival in Rome

We’ve arrived in Rome. I’m traveling with my mother today through Tuesday morning, May 1st. We were here together in 2000, and it’s a gift to be here with her again a lifetime later. We caught separate flights, her from Philadelphia and me from Newark with a layover in Charlotte, but both our flights arrived…

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To Rome

A few scenes from today and yesterday: the changing view from my office window as the new Comcast tower tops out and Logan Circle and the Ben Franklin Parkway begin to liven up with spring; a shot of 30th Street Station, where I caught a train to Newark, and scenes from Newark Liberty Airport where…

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Literary societies

I recently came across Lawrence Biemiller’s March 1997 profile of two Lancaster, Pennsylvania college literary societies. Biemiller’s piece appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and I’m excerpting some of it below. In the 19th century, many American colleges brilliantly combined the humanities (liberal arts) with the mechanical-industrial (servile arts) to create a new form…

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We’re better people when we’re there

Gracy Olmstead writes: In his latest book The Art of Loading Brush, Wendell Berry talks about the intuitive aspects of agrarianism: that there are many things agrarians do and uphold not for specific scientific reasons, but because they know in their bones that it’s “best.” “I think that agrarianism had, and where it survives it…

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Culture as ‘legitimate naming’

Mark Regnerus’s “Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy” is worth reading for its raw data alone. But Regnerus offers plenty of analysis of the data surrounding relationships, marriage, and commitment that is illuminating. Here’s a bit that particularly stood out to me: Almost all of us take birth control for granted, and…

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Great things, patiently built

Morgan Housel on “freakishly strong” foundations: The earth used to be covered in ice. Practically all of it. Then it melted, refroze, again and again. Five times this happened in the last few billion years. Scientists knew about ice age cycles long before they knew why they occurred. It confounded them. Then, a century ago,…

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Slower generational change

Another excerpt from Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget, this time on the friction between faster technology and the faster sense of change that it brings on the one hand, and the longer lifespans that the past century has brought and consequently the slower generational change that results: Accelerating change has practically become a religious belief…

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