Angela Merici & the Education of Women & Girls in the early 1500s

from Thomas Cahill: They were a group of well-born Lombardian ladies, led by Angela Merici, who came together to educate poor girls in the northern Italian city of Brescia. So far as I can ascertain, no one had ever thought to do this before them. In the same period, Anabaptist communities in Germany, Switzerland, and […]

Bruce Springsteen on “Nebraska,” & When the Demo is the Album

Two passages from Bruce Springsteen talking about his 1982 album Nebraska. You can hear the entire album here: Nebraska began as an unknowing meditation on my childhood and its mysteries. I had no conscious political agenda or social theme. I was after a feeling, a tone that felt like the world I’d known and still […]

Eleanor Roosevelt Finds Herself

From Geoffrey Ward’s biography of the Roosevelts comes this moving account of Eleanor Roosevelt’s Dickensian childhood, complete with neglectful mother and alcoholic father. Following the early death of both parents, the intervention of an aunt changes her life:    …[Eleanor’s father] Elliott was delighted at her birth, and called her “Little Nell” after the relentlessly […]

The Great Myths #33: The Child Cúchulainn Gets His Name (Celtic)

When Culand the smith offered Conchubur his hospitality, he said that a large host should not come, for the feast would be the fruit not of lands and possessions but of his tongs and his two hands. Conchubur went with fifty of his oldest and most illustrious heroes in their chariots. First, however, he visited […]

“All I know is a door into the dark”: 2 Poems by Seamus Heaney

A young Seamus Heaney recalls a blacksmith from his boyhood, while a much older Seamus Heaney illustrates the sometimes excessive power of retributive force (he says he was inspired by the U. S. military response to 9/11) by the swinging of a sledgehammer.   The Forge All I know is a door into the dark,Outside, […]

The Great Myths #31: The Child Krishna & the Universe in His Mouth (Hindu)

One day when Rāma and the other little sons of the cowherds were playing, they reported to his mother, “Kṛṣṇa has eaten dirt.” Yaśodā took Krishna by the hand and scolded him, for his own good, and she said to him, seeing that his eyes were bewildered with fear, “Naughty boy, why have you secretly […]