Author: Beth Haile

Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Open Gate

ACTS 2:14A, 36-41 1 PT 2:20B-25 JN 10:1-10 The reason this lectionary post will be a bit short and hasty is because I am away visiting family on the occasion of my nephew’s (and godson’s) first communion. I had the great privilege of being an extraordinary minister for the occasion. The parish church invited all of the first communicants and their families to come up first for communion, and it was fascinating to see how few families received together. Almost every child I saw (and about half of them were in Catholic school) had a parent or grandparent who...

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The (Moral) Trouble Living a Middle Class Life

I have become solidly middle class. My husband and I have so long been accustomed to thinking of ourselves as a sort of “X-class” as starving graduate students and then starving academics. When I quit my job and he changed careers, we spent a glorious year in deep poverty living in Texas among a community entirely composed of undocumented Spanish-speaking folks. It is easy to feel good about spirituality and discipleship when you by necessity live a simple life, and especially when you live among the poor. We don’t live that life anymore. Last summer we bought a house...

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Palm Sunday

A mom whom I respect very much recently told me about an incident with her teenage son. Her son, rather uncharacteristically (he is a good kid) was lashing out at her, spitting out the most awful invectives, screaming “I hate you” over and over again. She tried to reason with him in a calm voice but his anger only intensified. “So I just grabbed him and held him as tight as I could, not saying a word, while he screamed. And after a while, he started crying. He was crying like a baby in my arms. It was awful,...

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The problem with zoos

A week ago, I took my children to the zoo. A long-time vegetarian, I had always avoided zoos because I assumed that they were cruel to animals. I imagined tiny cages with bars, the kind you see in picture books from fifty years ago. My children were insistent, however. They wanted to see a zoo first-hand, and several trusted friends insisted that this zoo was a good one. I am always willing to change my mind about moral judgments based on good evidence. So we went. The zoo (which I won’t name) was a very large, well-endowed zoo. Many...

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Great Literature is an Indispensable Part of the Moral Life

I encounter a lot of people, some highly-educated and some not who simply do not read fiction. One guy I spoke with recently dismissed time spent reading literature with playing video games—a total waste of time, valuable only for entertainment. I meet others who say that with how little time they have, they will only read non-fiction, which is “truly worthwhile.” I think this view is really misguided. I want to make a case why reading fiction, particularly really excellent literature, should have a more prized place in your daily schedule, particularly as it relates to the moral life....

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