Author: Beth Haile

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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First Sunday of Lent

GN 2:7-9; 3:1-7 PS 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17 ROM 5:12-19 MT 4:1-11 I have always found the prosperity gospel pretty perplexing for a religion that places the crucifixion at the center of the faith. How can we conclude that a God who leads his own son through the passion and cross, and tells us to take us our own crosses and follow, wants us to be rich and comfortable. A more pressing theological concern is how we can conclude the God of the cross wants us to be happy at all? How do we know this God will care...

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