Coywolf

Hebrew, Lizavetta claimed, was the holiest and most beautiful language in the world. Alexey trusted her in most things, but he knew for a fact this couldn’t be so, because Lermontov had written his poems in Russian.

Night Running

And so they ran, like lunatics, around the neighborhood, in t-shirts and boots, in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter.

Love Will Not Save You

For years after, you will ask yourself, Should I have held her that night? Do you hold someone who tells you this? You won’t remember holding her…

The Empty Chair

After dinner his father would sit across the formica kitchen table and fire words at him. Bellicose, symbiosis, cartilaginous, revenant. The rule was, he did not have to go to bed until he got a word wrong.

Life So Good

There was another picture of her at their wedding. Two young boys in coffee-colored suits stood behind them, holding guitars way too big for their bodies, surrounded by a crowd of what must have been a hundred, their priest dressed in white toasting them with a big glass of red wine.

Autumn in Jerusalem

As I walked home I felt as if my feet weren’t touching the ground. The bright faces of the handicapped children were imprinted in my memory, and now I thought of each one of them, walking and singing, the nuns looking after them. I retained the light of the convent within me: its grace touched me, expanding an inner space, cheering unknown corners.

Meeting Martin Luther King Again for the First Time

Editor’s note: Having just returned (Monday, Jan. 16, 2016) from participating in a demonstration and march in Oakland, Ca. today in honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr, I was glad to receive this submission to Tikkun  (below) by African American studies professor (and Tikkun magazine author) Obery Hendricks. It is an important counter to the kind of rhetoric and tone I heard at today’s demonstration. At the rally before the march began  I heard one of the M.C.s ask the crowd to repeat “we will win by ANY MEANS NECESSARY” — a slogan I first heard from the Black Panther Party in 1968 — in clear attempt to repudiate King’s message both then and now about how to fight racism.

The Incident at Our Lady

I.

Phil had Sheila on the mind when he walked into one of the BOYS bathrooms at Our Lady of Peace Elementary in West Russelsburg. He’d started his shift as Second Security Officer at 6:00am, about an hour before most teachers get there, and about an hour and a half before the earliest kids get dropped off for the Before School Fitness Club, which was really just thirty minutes of kids running in circles on the field while one of the coaches watched, thirty minutes of free daycare and an earlier arrival at the office for the parents who didn’t care if they made their poor kids show up sweaty for the 8:00am Daily General Assembly. Phil had Sheila on the mind when, at about 9:00am, the school was quiet except in the classrooms and he’d walked down the quiet hallway in the main classroom building and walked into one of the BOYS bathrooms. He’d been thinking about her all morning, as usual, and he’d been thinking about their seventh date—set to happen that night—and the fact that he was now going by Phil instead of Phillip, all because on their first date, three weeks ago, she said in a nervous fast-talking first-date kind of jitters voice, Phillip? Phil? Is that you?

What I Have Learned from My Students After Half a Century of Teaching About Meaning

This personal drive to “take the world by the throat” in order to transcend the superficial ideals of the “American Dream,” along with its evanescent promises of attaining a lasting materialistic happiness, was my main motivation in creating the first applied religion course ever offered in a non-religious studies/non-divinity school in the United States. This brief essay is my account of what I have learned about the quest for meaning, and the practice of teaching about religion, from thousands of pre-professional, professional, and post-professional students throughout the decades. And, while it might sound like a feel-good cliché, I will say it nevertheless: I have learned at least as much from my students about making meaning of my life as they might have from me. Unequivocally!

What Will be the Future of the Democratic Party?

The 2016 election may be the most confounding political event in living memory. And the need to understand it is urgent. That a candidate so obviously lacking in virtue, principal, and understanding of the world beyond his own narrow ambitions should break out from the large field of Republican contenders and win the nomination speaks volumes about the failure of the Republican establishment to offer a credible vision for America’s future. That so many Americans would choose an outcome that is so obviously to their detriment calls for an explanation. And on the other hand, that the tone-deaf Democratic Party establishment considered Hillary Clinton entitled to their loyalty may at first be understandable.

Overcoming Bitterness and No Longer Assuming the Worst of Democrats

For decades, I have been obsessed with exposing the Clintons and like-minded Democratic politicians’ dangerous foreign policies, challenging liberal naiveté that ignores or excuses such hawkish proclivities, and underscoring the need to withhold support until they embrace more responsible positions. What I am belatedly discovering, as this campaign season is drawing to a close, is that while such concerns are not without merit, such efforts have ended up contributing to what may be an even bigger problem: the anger, frustration, cynicism, self-righteousness, isolation and other self-defeating tendencies on the left. It was such attitudes that played a decisive role in the narrow election victories of Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey and of George W. Bush over Al Gore and over John Kerry, resulting in horrific consequences to millions of people in the United States and the world. Indeed, it could possibly even lead this coming week to the most disastrous outcome of all: the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. It was twelve years ago, at the 2004 Tikkun conference near Washington, DC and in a subsequent edition of the magazine, when I bitterly attacked Democratic nominee John Kerry—in hindsight, the most progressive candidate the party has nominated since George McGovern—in ways that fed such perspectives.