SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Alexandra DeSanctis Marr

May 26, 2021
At the beginning of this month,  my husband and I spent two weeks visiting the southeastern U.S. We just got married, and decided that an essential aspect of our honeymoon would be to eschew our cell phones, use only paper maps as much as possible, and contact friends and family only if absolutely necessary. Among the
April 19, 2021
This is the last Chapter House column I’ll write before I get married next month. It is no exaggeration to say that the last nine months have constituted, by far, the busiest season of my life. Very recently, I finally became willing to admit to myself that a comforting fiction I had invented was false:
April 03, 2021
It’s all well and good to research and understand the way the human mind works and its effect on lived experience, but it is in Christian theology — not in the nebulous embrace of some “higher power” — that we can most fully understand our meaning and purpose, and thus our need for vulnerability. A
March 19, 2021
Senate Democrats have voted to install Xavier Becerra as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the clearest sign yet that Joe Biden intends to govern not as a unifier but as a champion of the progressive agenda. Becerra, who until now was the attorney general of California, has next to no expertise
March 09, 2021
It all started when I bought a complete DVD set of The Office — the U.S. version, of course. The purchase was in anticipation of  a tragedy: at the end of 2020, Netflix would remove the show from its site. I’ve been a hardcore fan of the show since 2009, when I first encountered it
February 22, 2021
It was during Lent last year that they closed the churches. I remember with perfect clarity the very last Mass I attended before everything shut down. It was the Saturday vigil on March 14, more than halfway through Lent. I was nearly 3,000 miles from home, in California visiting my boyfriend, now my fiancé, and
February 10, 2021
I never imagined that, at the ripe old age of 26, I’d find myself dedicating a significant amount of my time to learning how to read. Thanks to the deleterious effects of the Internet and more than a decade of constant rushing to complete daily tasks, the act of sitting down for any sustained amount
January 25, 2021
Joe Biden is a “devout Catholic” — or so his press secretary announced to reporters during the incoming administration’s first news briefing. It’s a claim that those of us who follow politics have heard many times from Biden. During his most recent campaign for president, Biden released a campaign ad insisting that he had decided
January 11, 2021
I’ve always had a love–hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. I suspect most people feel the same way — that is, if their attitude toward the concept is anything more positive than pure revulsion. There might not be much of a significant practical distinction between January 1 and December 31, but there is something compelling
December 13, 2020
When I was growing up, one of the signs that Christmas was fast approaching was when my parents went to the attic and pulled out their Nativity sets. Both my mother and father saved the manger scenes they had used when they were young, and every year each set would make an appearance in our
November 24, 2020
Is your Thanksgiving menu ready? We’re less than a week away, which means here in the U.S. at least, it’s game time. In the next couple of days, we had better thaw the turkey, prepare the brine, hit the store before the last-minute rush, and marshal our favorite recipes for a long Thursday in the
November 07, 2020
It would be a mistake to say that politics isn’t important, but I find myself saying more and more often, especially these days, that politics isn’t everything. It is a truth we would do well to reflect on. As the United States finds itself consumed by a presidential election that seems as if it may
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