November 29, 2016
The hillbilly or redneck culture of poor whites in Appalachia is largely hidden from view or intentionally ignored by much of the rest of the country, as the recent election showed. In Hillbilly Elegy, J. D. Vance, who himself grew up in this culture, offers a warm yet starkly honest view of himself, his extended family and his people.Continue reading "Hillbilly Elegy"
November 17, 2016
Adolf Hitler knew his history. He knew that one of the world's greatest military geniuses, Napoleon, was defeated when he invaded Russia. Hitler knew that his Nazi generals strongly advised against opening a second front in 1941 when Germany had not yet subdued England. Yet he invaded Russia anyway. Why?Continue reading "Why Hitler Lost"
November 15, 2016
The epic life of Dmitri Schostakovich and his music offers a window into the terror of Stalin's purges and the cruelty of the Nazi blockade of his beloved Leningrad (St. Petersburg) during World War II. In Symphony for the City of the Dead, M. T. Anderson begins with Schostakovich's early life and development, taking us step by step to the climactic composition and performance of The Leningrad Symphony in the midst of the city's starvation.Continue reading "Music in the Ruins"
November 10, 2016
My wife has a heart as wide as the horizon. I have the emotional range of a turnip. While my wife disputes this, many others have confirmed it. I think I know at least part of the reason. While my name may be French, my blood seems to be Scandahoovian.Continue reading "Speaking Minnesotan"
November 9, 2016
One evening in June 1991, Michael Weisser and his wife, Julie, were unpacking boxes in their new home in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he had become the new Jewish Cantor at a Jewish congregation. The phone rang, and they answered it. "You'll be sorry you ever moved in, Jew boy," the caller said and hung up.Continue reading "Fighting Hatred in an Unexpected Way"
November 1, 2016
Reading the New Testament apart from the Old Testament is like having just one good eye. We can function, certainly. But we will lack depth perception and may misinterpret what we see. Objects may be closer or further away than we think. As a result, we may bump into something we shouldn't have--or miss something we were trying to hit.Continue reading "Through Old Testament Eyes 2: Misreading Jesus' Trial"