Walking the Land of Our Fathers

I’m in East Tennessee right now, writing from my hotel, where the rooms overlook the Smokies and everyone calls me “dearie.” Every time I come here, I feel closer to my father than before. He was born here and comes from a large, historic Kingsport family that had deep ties to the land and the … Continue reading

A Brief for the Defense

I’m feeling melancholy today. I found out my childhood music teacher passed away this weekend, and even though I’d been preparing for it since her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s a few years ago, it still hit me hard. She encouraged me to make music, and through that she helped ease the pain of some difficult school … Continue reading

When They Die, Who Mourns Them?

Today I want to highlight a group of heroes out there doing amazing, practical work. I hope their hands-on response to the global crisis that is HIV/AIDS will inspire us to deeper compassion and give us just one example of how we can care for the people in greatest need among us. Joseph’s House is … Continue reading

We Need Cleaner Air and Cleaner Hearts

Last week NPR featured a series on poisoned places exposing the ways polluted air continues to harm residents all over the US. When I heard this report on All Things Considered, I recognized the place immediately: thick fog, benzene in the air, burning eyes and throats, obscure cancers. Perhaps this was LaBelle, PA – the … Continue reading

Doubt, Execution, and Collective Bloodlust

This week my Twitter account went all a-flutter over a man named Troy Davis. Troy Davis has served on Georgia’s death row for 20 years now, found guilty based on the testimonies of key witnesses. In the two decades since his conviction of murdering a police officer, 7 of the 9 witnesses have recanted or … Continue reading

Adam and End-of-Life Care for the Homeless

Our Friend Adam Last week I wrote about my husband’s friend “Adam” in reference to the dangers of being homeless during the hottest parts of summer. Adam had disappeared from where Michael normally spends time with him, but now he’s back. Sadly, he is not well. He was in the hospital because of a minor … Continue reading

Osama Bin Laden and Our Culture of Death

I might be the only person on Earth besides a terrorist to feel sad when I found out Osama Bin Laden was dead. It wasn’t because I liked the guy. It was because I woke up at around 1am last night to shouting, chanting, and even some illegal fireworks outside my window. Groggy and annoyed, … Continue reading

Memorializing the Marginalized

Ernst Barlach’s “Schlafende Vagabunden” (Sleeping Drifters) 1912 Yesterday I heard about two homeless men who were killed in Baltimore this past week. A man had tried to rob them, they didn’t have anything, and so then he killed them. It reminded me of a memorial service that is held in Atlanta every year for the … Continue reading

Let the Little Sparrows Die

It is freezing in DC right now, and I spent the afternoon yesterday watching rain turn to snow from the cafe where I was working. Rain, then sleet actually, then slush, then snow. I was finishing the outline for one last final go at the screenplay I’m adapting from Hungarian playwright Andras Visky’s Juliet. It … Continue reading

What’s Killing LaBelle, PA?

  by Joanna Castle Miller When you drive into LaBelle, PA, you might miss it for the view. The steep streets wind around trees turned, this time of year, into bold yellows and oranges. Houses line the Monongahela River on small lots left over from the peak of the town’s coal mining days. A rustic … Continue reading

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