I am not exactly held hostage by social media in its manifold manifestations, but I need to monitor various sites in order to do my job. I rely on Twitter in particular on state legislative session days to keep up with votes, for the days when I choose not to chain myself to the session’s live feed. But the trouble with Twitter and its cultural cousins is that the Send button is right there, just begging for my commentary and tart replies.
Today is one of those days.
For sanity’s sake, I’m recalling something I posted a little over five years ago. I quoted a writer whose plain sense I need to keep in mind whenever a site’s Send option is all too tempting.
Some say I repress my anger, and I reply, You betcha. I have never had much patience for the “let-it-all-out” theory. I know several people who are forever letting it all out, and their spirits remain consistently unimproved.
Michael Perry in Backpacker magazine, June 2003
Of course that depends on what one is letting out. But I take Mr. Perry’s point.
Welcoming spring, observing Lent: it’s a season of new books for me.
I often select a familiar devotional to read during Lent, and sure enough, there’s Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ in this year’s rotation. I’ve added a work of fiction that’s a stretch for me on several counts: Silence by Shūsako Endō, first published in 1997, translated from Japanese by William Johnston. The story of a handful of Portuguese priests and the Japanese people they evangelized in the seventeenth century is painfully illuminating. What does it mean to be a missionary and an apostate (a word seldom heard in my neck of the woods)? What is Christian witness? How do Christian neophytes grow in faith – sometimes to astonishing degrees – when priests are scarce and persecution is everywhere? I’m still in the midst of the book, and already I know it will leave me with even more questions. It’s a beautiful work, understated rather then melodramatic, difficult but not obscure.
I’m loving the fresh look at Dorothy Day in a book by Kate Hennessy, her granddaughter, who writes like a dream. Dorothy Day: the World Will Be Saved by Beauty is subtitled “an intimate portrait of my grandmother.”
I’m not sticking to spiritual fare this month. I’ve just finished Carl Bernsteins’s memoir Chasing History: A Kid In the Newsroom. Anyone of my generation will remember Bernstein’s journalistic partnership with Bob Woodward, but I know younger readers might not know of him. I recommend Chasing History to one and all, whether familiar with Bernstein or not. The book covers the first years of Bernstein’s professional life, beginning as a high school student who was much more interested in journalism than in classwork. He brings the now-defunct Washington Star newspaper to life for readers of this generation. He writes with a sharp eye for events and with affectionate memory for the pros who served as his mentors and co-workers. I read this for fun – and learned a thing or two while I was at it.
#OpenBook is a monthly blog linkup by Carolyn Astfalk, featuring a roundup of bloggers and the books they’re exploring.
A few notes on the kickoff rally for Manchester, NH’s latest 40 Days for Life campaign:
How many times did I take these launch rallies for granted, pre-Covid? Pandemic precautions kept indoor meetings to a minimum over the past couple of years. State and municipal restrictions and recommendations are easing. Gathering at St. Thomas parish hall in Derry with other 40 Days for Life supporters last weekend felt like an exceptional celebration. It was good to greet neighbors old and new.
Althea Ansah could have spent twice as much time at the microphone, and I still would have wanted to hear more from her. She’s a former Student for Life leader at UNH, and now she’s a WIC nutritionist and a volunteer with New Hampshire Right to Life.
She said that as a high school student, she had been supportive of abortion, seeing it as an aspect of women’s rights. As she learned more about fetal development, abortion took on another meaning. “It was like a light bulb went off.” Once at UNH, “my walls broke down.” She described going to the national March for Life in 2020 and feeling overwhelmed at seeing so many people coming together to support families.
Now, she values the many roles people have in pro-life work: legislation, prayer, apologetics, reducing the demand for abortions, and – “my favorite” – providing supportive services for people in need. There’s work for everyone. “We all have a personal stake in abortion.”