heavy heavy

My first examination of the school year was last week. It covered Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson—both of which I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned here. The test was two short essays and one long essay. There were several options of what to write on for the long essay. I didn’t write on empathetic suffering in Mariette in Ecstasy, and I partially regret that. Take two.

My personal experience with nuns is minimal. I attended a Catholic elementary school in New Hampshire, but there were only two of them left in the teaching faculty. The sister that taught music retired form teaching during my time there. The other sister was my first grade teacher. The main thing that I remember about her was her love of whoopee pies. I’m not sure if that is how you spell the word for the two chocolate cakelets with cream in the middle, but autocorrect made it that, so I’ll take its word. My Mac is obese.

The lunch table was the central point of middle school life. It was a market of junk food and crude jokes. Cold lunchers like myself eyed the platters of hot lunchers with gut-shriveling envy. On the rare occasion I would slip into the cafeteria area and grab some garlic bread or a plate of pasta after everyone had settled into their place at a table and after my bagged lunch was depleted. I felt a bit foreign approaching the lunch ladies, but they quickly became allies. “Just take it. No one should leave the lunch room hungry.” Continue reading

sincerity

During a class discussion about Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, the question was asked, “How did a slow novel portraying a protestant minister in a good light win the Pulitzer prize?”  Gregory Wolfe, the professor, suggested that the sincerity of the novel left critics shocked.  He then spoke about the New Sincerity, which I had never heard about before.  It is the idea that a new wave of honesty and simplicity is on its way to replace the current irony, self-consciousness, and jadedness of our culture.

He cited Sufjan Stevens, Gilead, Arcade Fire, and folk-nuevo bands like Mumford and Sons that earnestly sing about things they care about.

This idea gave me a lot of hope and excitement for the future and my generation’s role in it.