Some Reasons to Read Middlemarch

The Erstwhile Philistine

As I prepare to enter a PhD program in the fall, at which point presumably I won’t have much leisure time for reading what I want when I want it, I’ve decided to dedicate my summer to checking off some boxes on my pleasure reading bucket list. One huge entry on that list was George Eliot’s 800 page behemoth Middlemarch, often hailed as one of the great novels written in English. It’s been in my sights for awhile – it even had a whole Twitter campaign devoted to it –  but I’ve put it off because of its length and intimidation factor. I’m very glad I finally got around to it, and I certainly think it lives up to its lofty reputation. Instead of a traditional review, I thought I’d offer up a few things I really appreciated about the book, in an effort to convince the uninitiated that…

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The Right Way To Love God?

Susan Cottrell & FreedHearts


What does a “godly” person look like? Is there a right way to love God? Is there a correct path to follow Jesus?

I just returned from my fourth “Christian” conference of the year.

January I was in Chicago for the Gay Christian Network Annual Conference, where some 700 people gathered to celebrate, learn, and share community. Rob and I were among 200 parents, the rest were LGBTQ people, mostly in their 20s and 30s, gathered in the name of Christ. The worship, the camaraderie, the joy of the Lord, filled the conference hall. If you had been there, you would have basked in it! No denomination, no distinction, no made to feel second-class. They’re just brothers and sisters in Christ, full of gratitude for Christ in us, the hope of glory.

God is God.

In June I returned to Chicago for a “By Parents, For Parents” conference. Parents of LGBTQ…

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Museum of the world, for the World Cup

British Museum blog

David Francis, Interpretation Officer

With the World Cup Final nearly upon us, I thought it would be interesting to search through the British Museum collection and see what footballing-related treasures could be unearthed. The Museum does not specifically set out to collect football-related objects; that remit falls to the National Football Museum in Manchester. However, the prevalence of objects related to football in the collection reflects the popularity of the sport, both in our current time and as part of our cultural heritage.

Greenstone yoke mould with relief carving in the form of a toad. Used to shape the protective leather belts worn by players of the Mesoamerican ballgame. From Veracruz, Mexico, AD 300-1200 (AOA Am,St.398) Greenstone yoke mould with relief carving in the form of a toad. Used to shape the protective leather belts worn by players of the Mesoamerican ballgame. From Veracruz, Mexico, AD 300-1200 (AOA Am,St.398)

The story begins with objects related to ancient team ball games that had independently evolved in different parts of the world that act as football’s great ancestral forefathers. These include the Chinese game cuju

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My dinner with Allen Ginsberg

The Fall Creek Review


Allen Ginsberg Photo of Allen Ginsberg from Revista de Cultura.

The Beat 1950s were over, crowded out by the Beatles, the assassination of JFK, Vietnam, LSD, Flower Power, and Easy Rider. Jack Kerouac had just died at 47 of drink and Catholic bad karma, and so had Neal Cassady at 41, while on the road in Mexico. It was 1969 or 1970. And I, in my first year as a college teacher in northern Pennsylvania, was having dinner with Allen Ginsberg.

Allen had accepted a spot on the college’s speakers series and would fill an auditorium for an hour on the following day. A colleague in the English Department had picked him up at the Elmira airport and was entertaining him for the evening. Would I care to make a fourth for dinner?

I didn’t know what to expect. A diffident soul finishing a doctoral dissertation on…

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Tribute to Viola Desmond.


Viola Desmond.Viola Desmond is a true heroine of the civil rights movement. She was arrested on November 8th, 1946 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia after refusing to move from the whites-only section of a racially segregated movie theatre. Viola was removed from the theatre by force, subsequently jailed overnight, tried, convicted, and fined. All without access to legal representation.

It was only as late as 2010 that she was granted a posthumous free pardon, and the government of Nova Scotia apologized. The case helped sway public opinion and put an end to segregation. Next year there will be a public holiday in Nova Scotia dedicated in her honour.

In the illustration I strived to recreate the tension in the theatre on the night of Viola Desmond’s arrest. The drawing was published in The Chronicle Herald, here is a link to the article.

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My Mother-in-Law’s Pakoray

Love, InshAllah

Food, Love & Memories is a bimonthly column devoted to the evocative connections between the heart, food & soul. We invite you to share your story+recipe for future columns. More details here.

It’s still a few hours before any hint of twilight when my mother-in-law pulls herself up off the couch, murmuring with a sense of urgency, “I need to start getting the pakora batter ready for iftar.”

“Relax, Mama,” I tell her. “It won’t be the end of the world if the kids don’t get pakoras for iftar one day. I’m going to be making fruit chaat and lassi; that will be more than enough before dinner. And those two healthful things are better for them than fried pakoras every night, don’t you think?”

She waves away my suggestions as inconsequential. “My bacchas love pakoras; they’re going to get pakoras. As long as their grandmother is around with…

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