How Democracies Die

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How Democracies Die
By Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Let me confess up front:  I have not yet read this book.  I’m screwing up my courage to do so.  However, I’ve heard just enough about it to be extremely concerned and intrigued.

The authors argue that in recent times authoritarian leaders have actually come to power through democratic processes.  The good old days of military coups seem to be a relic of the past.

Once in power, these leaders all share four common traits: Continue reading “How Democracies Die”

Marriage

IMG-0835As Martin Luther wrote, “There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage.”  

I couldn’t agree more.  And not just because my wife and I are about to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary, I promise.

The fact of the matter is that I’m a big fan of marriage.   Continue reading “Marriage”

An Australian Parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son

Palm Sunday and Holy Week are not my favorite liturgical season.  I endure them in anticipation of Easter. And so, this year I’ve frittered away the final days of Lent and Holy Week binge-watching The Heart Guy, an Australian television series.   I have a soft spot for Australia, and Australian television programs give me the sensation of being there, if only for the duration of the show.

368px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe Heart Guy isn’t brilliant television, but it’s fun and harmless.  It chronicles the misadventures of an arrogant and infallible Sydney heart surgeon, Hugh Knight.  Dr. Knight has bad boy habits involving drugs and other misbehavior that result in his surgery license being temporarily suspended.  The medical board sentences Knight to a year’s probation at a country hospital in a town called Whyhope. The aptly named Whyhope also happens to be the town where Dr. Knight grew up and where his family still lives.

Knight returns to Whyhope with his tail between his legs and quickly begins the process of re-integrating into his family and community.  Complications ensue.

At a deeper level, however, The Heart Guy is a retelling of the parable of The Prodigal Son as found in Luke 15:11-32. Continue reading “An Australian Parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son”

Sinking into Silence

0EE325D5-71E6-4199-9E41-E36950CDD34C.jpegEach year I try to spend a week in silent retreat. With my travel schedule, that can be a challenge. However, if I attach the retreat to other travel, so that I’m already away from the temptations of the office and the “to do” lists of home, I can sometimes swing it. Continue reading “Sinking into Silence”

And the winner is…

Several years ago our daughter talked us into hosting an Oscars night party.  We were initially reluctant.  Now it’s a thing.  

We think up a thematic menu to serve, distribute ballots to our guests, award points according to categories, and then at the end of the evening award a mini-Oscar trophy to the person who wins the most points by predicting the most winners in various categories.  

Each year I’m determined to win.  Each year I’ve failed.

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Continue reading “And the winner is…”

Friendship

For reasons I can’t entirely explain, I recently downloaded audiobook versions of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and A Little Life: A Novel by Hanya Yanagihara.  I had read both of these books within the last three years, so their plots and characters were still very much on my mind.  Perhaps that is why I wanted to re-read them.  

In rereading (or in my case, having the book read to me) one has the pleasure of seeing how the author is unfolding the plot and relationships.  Details that one missed the first time through are more fully understood.  Foreshadowing is more vivid.  It is as if one has gone from black and white to Technicolor.

www.hdnicewallpapers.com Continue reading “Friendship”

Salvator Mundi

IMG_1870 2On Wednesday morning I met Christ on my way to work.  If you want to catch him, he is currently at Christie’s auction house in New York City until Wednesday, November 15th at noon.  After that no one knows where he will go.  Stop by if you have a chance. Continue reading “Salvator Mundi”

Binge Watching for God (Part Two)

Last week, I explored the role that God plays in the lives of four of the five 30-something Orthodox Jewish Jerusalemites in the Israeli television series Srugim.

AngelThis week, we learn what the angel that God sends to Amir has to say.

Continue reading “Binge Watching for God (Part Two)”