Sundays aren’t everyone’s favorite day of the Dish week, but many readers have written in expressing their dismay at the prospect of seeing it go. One implores:

Please consider continuing the “Sunday Dish”. The philosophical and religious discussions are unique, accessible, and my personal favorite part of the blog!

Another was irritated at first, but later felt “awash in a deep sense of gratitude”:

I’ve read your blog for the past fifteen years and at the start of that journey I was a closeted gay seminarian. I found your willingness to share your experience and strength, your struggle and hope, a life giving inspiration that it just might be possible to be honest with oneself, serious in ones thought, courageous and authentic in ones convictions, and yet somehow through the mystery of grace – joyful within the Church. I thank you Andrew, you’ve been enormously helpful to me in learning to be compassionate to myself and, now as a Redemptorist priest, more compassionate to the people of God, especially to the most abandoned.

And there’s at least one non-believer who would miss the Dish on Sundays:

Read On

The View From Your Window

Feb 1 2015 @ 10:47am

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Paris, France, 4 pm

Malkin Award Nominee

Feb 1 2015 @ 9:51am

David Edward spots this lovely nugget from right-wing Christian commentator Todd Starnes:

“I’m no theologian,” Starnes opined. “But I suspect Jesus would tell that God-fearing, red-blooded American sniper, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant for dispatching another Godless jihadist to the lake of fire.’”

Starnes said that he longed for the days when Hollywood “stood in solidarity with our fighting men and women.”

“Those days are long gone, and our sweet land of liberty has been soiled by the stinking stench of Michael Moore and Howard Dean and their liberal minions,” he insisted.

Putting Worship First

Feb 1 2015 @ 8:33am

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Kazimierz Bem asserts that service, though vital, can’t be all that the Church is about:

The endless call for more volunteers, more mission projects, more social justice, more calls to action will sooner or later exhaust our members and us. They will come, join us for one project, and then burn out and leave us, never to return. That’s not a future — that’s self-destruction. As Richard Niebuhr once wrote, “If a church has no other plan of salvation than to offer men than one of deliverance by force, education, idealism (…) it really has no existence as a church and needs to resolve itself into a political party or school.”

His riff on why worship should have pride of place in the Christian life:

When people sometimes tell me they don’t get anything from worship, I am happy to answer, “That’s great! Because its not about you.” Our culture needs a place — we need a place in our lives — to tell us that not everything is always about us, about our personal happiness, our convenience, our frantic timetables, or shrinking commitments.

Some things are bigger than us. There needs to be a place where we are told uncomfortable truths about ourselves, our world and even about God — where we ask the questions our pop culture ignores or caricatures, and where we can look for answers. Where we pause — and reflect theologically.

(Hat tip: Dreher. Photo by Maureen Didde)

Quote For The Day

Feb 1 2015 @ 7:42am

“The ethic of reverence of life constrains all, in whatever walk of life they may find themselves, to busy themselves intimately with all the human and vital processes which are being played out around them, and to give themselves as men to the man who needs human help and sympathy. It does not allow the scholar to live for his science alone, even if he is very useful to the community in so doing. It does not permit the artist to exist only for his art, even if he gives inspiration to many by its means. It refuses to let the business man imagine that he fulfills all legitimate demands in the course of his business activities. It demands from all that they should sacrifice a portion of their own lives for others. In what way and in what measure this is his duty, this everyone must decide on the basis of the thoughts which arise in himself, and the circumstances which attend the course of his own life. The self-sacrifice of one may not be particularly in evidence. He carries it out simply by continuing his normal life. Another is called to some striking self-surrender which obliges him to set on one side all regard for his own progress. Let no one measure himself by his conclusions respecting someone else. The destiny of men has to fulfill itself in a thousand ways, so that goodness may be actualized. What every individual has to contribute remains his own secret. But we must all mutually share in the knowledge that our existence only attains its true value when we have experienced in ourselves the truth of the declaration: ‘He who loses his life shall find it,'” – Albert Schweitzer, The Spiritual Life.

A Story About Building Something

Jan 31 2015 @ 8:30pm

Ellie Lee tells shares how she came to appreciate the essential role her father, an immigrant shopkeeper, played in his community:

Learn more about the Moth here. Previous storytelling on the Dish here. Speaking of building something, here’s a look back at a post from January 2013 entitled “Is The Dish A Community?”:

I probably send more emails to the Dish than to any one person I know outside of work, other than my close relatives and girlfriend. To the extent that “community” and “communication” have a shared root (which they do),qm The Dish is a community to me. And in any community, there are those who get a thrill up their leg being an active member (your “dorky” subscriber), and those who keep their distance from any displays of affection (your dissenter). And there are those who simply appreciate the stimulation the community provides and find it occasional cathartic to throw in their two cents (or pence in my case) by shooting of an email.

The Dish is not Oprah. It is that rare thing on the Internet: a place for intelligent discussion that wears itself lightly. Most of the web communities I’ve seen are populated by either emotion-infused screeds or dispassionate analyses that betray nothing of the writer’s bias. The Dish is the only place I find commentary that doesn’t pander to either extreme. In part because reader feedback is moderated. But largely because, while biased, the editing is, as you claim, remarkably balanced.

Solo But Not Single

Jan 31 2015 @ 7:15pm

Maureen O’Connor wonders about the role masturbation plays in relationships:

Most studies find that a big majority of married Americans report masturbating (and since it’s self-reporting, that probably undersells it). “Even if I had all the men in the world that I wanted in my bed, even if I had Ryan Gosling, I would still masturbate with sex toys,” French sex columnist Maïa Mazaurette recently told me. “I don’t want to go back to a world without plastic!”

On the other hand, well, masturbation is sort of inherently antisocial. Within the bounds of a relationship defined, in part, by both partners’ willingness to devote sexual energy to one another, it can be downright rude. Can we ever really get over the embarrassment of purely personal indulgence? Or take the indulgence of your partner as anything other than a rejection of you? Even if we want to be open, practically and emotionally, exposing deeply private habits to anyone — even the one you love — is reflexively uncomfortable. And hearing your girlfriend rev up her vibrator after saying she’s going to sleep early can be hard to shake. Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean that the negotiations won’t be awkward or that the concessions will be easy to get used to.

A Poem For Saturday

Jan 31 2015 @ 5:55pm

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“On the Grasshopper and Cricket” by John Keats (1795-1821):

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,–he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is creasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

(Photo by Jim Capaldi)

Mental Health Break

Jan 31 2015 @ 4:20pm

We’re still trying to catch ours:

A Short Story For Saturday

Jan 31 2015 @ 3:22pm

Given this week’s weather, Tobias Wolff’s “Hunters in the Snow” seemed like a timely selection – though of course the story isn’t really about snow. Here’s how it begins:

Tub had been waiting for an hour in the falling snow. He paced the sidewalk to keep warm and stuck his head out over the curb whenever he saw lights approaching. One driver stopped for him but before Tub could wave the man on he saw the rifle on Tub’s back and hit the gas. The tires spun on the ice. The fall of snow thickened. Tub stood below the overhang of a building. Across the road the clouds whitened just above the rooftops, and the street lights went out. He shifted the rifle strap to his other shoulder. The whiteness seeped up the sky.

A truck slid around the corner, horn blaring, rear end sashaying. Tub moved to the sidewalk and held up his hand. The truck jumped the curb and kept coming, half on the street and half on the sidewalk. It wasn’t slowing down at all. Tub stood for a moment, still holding up his hand, then jumped back. His rifle slipped off his shoulder and clattered on the ice, a sandwich fell out of his pocket. He ran for the steps of the building. Another sandwich and a package of cookies tumbled onto the new snow. He made the steps and looked back.

Read the rest here. More of Wolff’s short fiction can be found in Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories. Peruse previous SSFSs here. Update from a reader:

I see a none-too-subtle South Park reference in today’s short story. I mean, it’s The Dish and one of the main guys is Kenny. Of course he’s fucked.