Recent Columns

This time I’m keeping my New Year’s resolutions

I’m taking my New Year’s resolutions very seriously right now. Very seriously. This far into January. This is remarkable because I’ve usually broken them by lunch on New Year’s Day.
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Light of Christmas still shines even when you’re alone

We get things wrong. This is to be expected. Because the problem with the church, the global body of Jesus followers, is that, like the larger world, it’s filled with people. We’re not always our brother’s, or sister’s, keeper. We don’t always give a cup of cool water to the thirsty. A home to the
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Looking for peace in the world, and ourselves

Today is a good day to talk about peace, starting with Alfred Nobel. As the story goes, when Alfred’s rich brother Ludvig died, Europe’s newspapers mistakenly thought it was Alfred. So the Swedish scientist who’d invented, among other things, dynamite, awoke one day in 1888
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Don’t take any child for granted

“Don’t have children. For God’s sake. Don’t.” This is from the mother in Raymond Carver’s story “A Small Good Thing.” Her boy, hit by a car, is dying in the hospital. Who can blame her? Or anyone else?Years ago some friends of mine, not long married, said the same. “We’re not having children.”
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Taking the long view on democracy, and life

It’s a fall day in rural Illinois, near Chicago, and, as I often do, I’m reading aloud to my bride. We’re across the border briefly. It’s just the papers with us. USA Today is in-hand. The Detroit Free Press and Kalamazoo Gazette, in the car’s back seat. I’m looking for a Chicago Tribune.
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My own funeral? Imagine.

“Be well.” This is what I said to my students. It was after a recent class. Then they left for the various corners of their lives. We’d just unpacked “Cathedral,” a story by Raymond Carver. He often wrote about broken characters, broken in ways that Carver himself was broken. “Be well.” Then they were gone.
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Life lessons from Paul Henderson

I’m with Paul Henderson who’s telling me about unexpected things and the rest of the story. First, for my boy and hundreds of thousands of other young Canadians starting a new hockey season, Henderson offers some advice. He talks about pushing yourself, and teamwork, and the power of encouraging others. Then he says, “Because
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Riding to save mothers in Zimbabwe

Then there’s that boy on the beach. He’s the boy throwing starfish back into the ocean, one at a time. As far as the eye can see, starfish lay on the beach, dying. It’s overwhelming. People walk past. “There are too many,” a passerby tells the boy. “You can’t make a difference.” The boy bends down,
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Hey, Old Man (and the Sea), Happy Birthday!

If we were all old men we could do worse than land in Ernest Hemingway’s classic novella The Old Man and the Sea. The story, among the most loved of the 20th century, just turned 70. The old man – his name is Santiago – is an outsider. He’s impoverished. Has horrible luck. Hasn’t caught a
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Dogs, in the dog days of summer

From this corner, the only thing left to say about the dwindling dog days of summer is that the dog is somehow managing. The kids have been gone for large swaths of time. If I was a dog, or if you were, this would take something out of you. How could it not? You know the greeting a dog gives when you arrive home?
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The wonder of the great outdoors

According to my phone GPS, two of the three children are gone. I asked their mother about this. “Yes, Number Two and Number Three,” she said. “Oh,” I said. When did they leave? “Early summer.” “Yes, of course. To where?” “Camp.” Only Child Number One, the Mac nursing student who’s working in a nearby seniors home, sleeps
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The road to “I’m sorry”

My teens call me “Papi” and “Paps” these days. “Good morning, Papi.” I don’t mind. It’s from “Papa,” the origin of “Pope.” But I’m no Catholic. I’m just a dad who’s happy to find some heart and courage and brains, happy to get the kids further along life’s yellow brick road in one piece. My neighbour is a devout Catholic.
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Getting to know our nation’s soul

One summer day my eldest and I took a selfie at the corner of Portage and Main. We were exploring. I’d already  explored enough of Canada by myself. Once I took the train Toronto to Vancouver, before getting up to Tofino to stand in the Pacific with raised arms. As a dad, things are now different.
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Being good at being single

Most of us have no clue what we’re doing in these matters of the heart, but if you’re looking, and if it’s any help, here’s something for a summer day. It starts with a fine young lady, Corinna. Little Boy Hopeless, that’s me, hit her with a rock. In Grade 2. Seated behind her, I’d also pull her dark, silky hair. I liked her
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What, really, is in a name, after all?

It was one of those funny things. My eldest was with me at a garage getting our car checked when she said, “Dad. Look!” I turned to see a set of summer tires, ready for some stranger’s car. “Guenter,” the unknown owner’s name, was written large on the four tires that were stacked like a question mark.
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