But antlike
crawls all over me Lord

and I cry out
if you call
this vise
a cry,
this riot
of needs and genes
an I.

among the
and nerves
of sounds
I make my scathing
in church
or in the parked
before work
I try
to pray.

What might it mean
to surrender
to the wonder

Not to end
with a little flourish
of earth.

Not to end

Christian Wiman, from “More like the stars”

“Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

Hey, look at what’s back in the news! I wrote this original post back in 2012.


Given that the Jesus wife thing (Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5) is getting a lot of press attention, I decided to round up some of the more interesting and useful links.

Here is the fragment of the codex:


The New York Times has a great picture that you can zoom in on, and Harvard has released a beautiful picture as well.

Dr. King has made several useful videos and provided other information to explain this find:

Here is a draft of her forthcoming article.

Here is a nice FAQ for journalists.

She discusses the find in this video, as well as this one from the Smithsonian:

A selected roundup of some of the reactions I’ve seen:

As far as I can tell, there are several main issues at stake in this discussion:

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It’s of some interest that the lively arts of the millennial U.S.A. treat anhedonia and internal emptiness as hip and cool…. [K]eep in mind that, for kids and younger people, to be hip and cool is the same as to be admired and accepted and included and so Unalone. Forget so-called peer-pressure. It’s more like peer-hunger. No? We enter a spiritual puberty where we snap to the fact that the great transcendent horror is loneliness, excluded encagement in the self. Once we’ve hit this age, we will now give or take anything, wear any mask, to fit, be part-of, not be Alone, we young. The U.S. arts are our guide to inclusion. A how-to. We are shown how to fashion masks of ennui and jaded irony at a young age where the face is fictile enough to assume the shape of whatever it wears. And then it’s stuck there, the weary cynicism that saves us from gooey sentiment and unsophisticated naivete.
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
When we remember our former selves, there is always the little figure with its long shadow stopping like an uncertain belated visitor on a lighted threshold at the far end of an impeccably narrowing corridor.
Vladimir Nabokov, Ada, or Ardor

What’s fertile in a wound? Why dwell in one? Wounds promise authenticity and profundity; beauty and singularity, desirability. They summon sympathy. They bleed enough light to write by. They yield scars full of stories and slights that become rallying cries. They break upon the fuming fruits of damaged engines and dust these engines with color.

And yet - beyond and beneath their fruits - they still hurt. The boons of a wound never get rid of it; they just bloom from it. It’s perilous to think of them as chosen. Perhaps a better phrase is wound appeal, which is to say: the ways a wound can seduce, how it can promise what it rarely gives. As my friend Harriet once told me: “Pain that gets performed is still pain.”

Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams
Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I’m deep in my own. To say “going through the motions”—this isn’t reduction so much as acknowledgment of the effort—the labor, the motions, the dance—of getting inside another person’s state of heart or mind.

This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always arise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones.
Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams
How kind time is, altering space
so nothing stays wrong; and light,
more new light, always arrives.
Spencer Reece, from “At Thomas Merton’s Grave”

Vladimir Nabokov on James Joyce.

"The wisdom that I wasn’t meant to be a teacher only came through sheer exhaustion."



"The wisdom that I wasn’t meant to be a teacher only came through sheer exhaustion."


Pnin slowly walked under the solemn pines. The sky was dying. He did not believe in an autocratic God. He did believe, dimly, in a democracy of ghosts. The souls of the dead, perhaps, formed committees, and these, in continuous session, attended to the destinies of the quick.
Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin
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