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When I was a child I read poorly written Sunday-school books. They happened to be Catholic books because I read them in a Catholic Sunday school. My mother was a Congregationalist and she would have preferred I be reared to that austere faith, but she lacked the strength to battle the passionate alcoholics and living martyrs of my father’s side — Catholics to a man jack.

It was bad news for me but even worse for the nuns. There was hardly a moment when I wasn’t in their face, loaded with questions they weren’t answering: Why do humans have immortal souls and not animals? Why would God create people with free will if he knew ahead of time some of them would damn themselves to eternal agony? Was this some kind of self-loathing he was working out symbolically through us?

These were small-town nuns, not scholars, and so they brushed off all of my questions with, “It’s a holy mystery.”
More… “The Novelist as Anglerfish”

John Cotter’s first novel Under the Small Lights appeared in 2010 from Miami University Press. A founding editor at the review site Open Letters Monthly, John’s published critical work in Sculpture, Bookforum, and The The Poetry Foundation. Say hi at John [at] JohnCotter [dot] net.
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First thing’s first: If you heard yesterday that bacon is just as likely to give you cancer as smoking cigarettes, you heard wrong. Take a deep breath and get the whole story. (Wired)

The tables were turned on one of the most interviewed people of the past seven years. This time, Barack Obama was asking the questions and Marilynne Robinson, novelist and essayist, was answering. (The New York Review of Books)

Charles Shultz’s“adorable” little characters were called “Peanuts” by just about everyone but him. Charlie Brown’s love, the Little Red-Haired Girl, was never meant to be drawn. The long-running comic strip appealed to adults and children and sometimes had a dark side. Now, all that is being flipped on its head in the shiny new Peanuts Movieand Shultz may be rolling in his grave. Take a look back on 65 years of Linus, Lucy, Charlie, and, most importantly, Snoopy. (The Atlantic) •

Maren Larsen is the associate editor of The Smart Set. She is a digital journalism student, college radio DJ, and outdoor enthusiast.
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