My Ancestors on Nantucket: Quakers and Whale-Hunters Both?

I’ve just had a brush with some of my ancestors, and the experience has left me quaking in my sneakers. OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. I wasn’t exactly frightened…more stirred up, the way somebody on a turbulent ride might get. The questions I had before the meet-up have been partly answered, but now I have many more, plus a few contradictions that aren’t easily put to rest, as the ancestors themselves lie silent. Hearing that I … Read More

Different Beaches, Different Times, Different Lives

I’m knocking on the door of a significant birthday, so I’m going to gather my wits and make a modest proclamation. Just when you think you’ve got a few facts down, can recognize a thing or two with certainty, absolutely know how to define particular words…something will probably happen that will cause you to re-shuffle the deck. Not that I put myself in the camp of people playing with a full one or anything. But I venture to say that, … Read More

A Dubious Distinction

Any way you look at it, I am in the Least Religious State. Geographically, that is. The Pew Research Center has just come out with another one of those surveys about our national religious life, and it probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that New England is last, last, last. Read all about it here. We have an impressive array of colleges and universities, but when it comes to pious people—at least in the traditional church-going sense, I hasten to … Read More

It Figures that I’m Here

For a girl who grew up without the regular back and forth to any house of worship, I sure do have a pretty good knack for getting really close to churches in my adult life. And the strange thing is, I haven’t even tried. It’s almost as if they found me. I’ve just started a new chapter of proximity, and this time around I’m struck by how the very different elements of tremendous weight and airy spirituality combine in the religious … Read More