Sandy Hook And The Media

I couldn’t agree more with what so many have been saying. The media makes celebrities out of those who commit massacres. This is deeply unhealthy for our culture. When I saw the cover of the New York Times on Sunday and its oversized image of Adam Lanza I thought, the editors had a choice and they chose to appeal to our horror, rather than our hearts. So much more profound would have been, for example, an image of Sandy hook’s psychologist, Mary Sherlach, who had been working with children for more than 20 years and who, in the end, literally gave her life for them. It is painful to look at her picture – difficult beyond words – but feeling that pain is acknowledging the loss of her life. And when we feel that loss, we feel our humanity. She reminds us of life and death. She is, in a sense, a call to action. Looking at her killer takes us out of our hearts. She puts us back in there. This is what we need more of at a time like this.

So Proud: Thoughts After Midnight

By the time President Obama made his acceptance speech for a second term in office, it was well past midnight on the East Coast. Like so many other Americans, I was exhausted after a long, emotional day of hoping and worrying and wanted very much to crawl into bed but I couldn’t. I had to hear what the President had to say.

The Audacity of Hope for My Rights: Why Voting for Obama is so Personal

Once, long ago, I was married to a wonderful man, and the marriage would have lasted long into the sunset, I’m sure, if not for one significant factor. I’m gay. Coming out wasn’t easy—my brother-in-law told me I was a disgrace to the family—but of all people, my husband was one of the gentlest souls. His father had been gay. He had seen the struggles. And he knew I loved him and that I had tried.

Disappearing Acts

A friend wrote me the other day, “One thing I was left very curious about was why this history sort of disappeared from your family lore.” It’s true. It did disappear. I didn’t grow up hearing about William Skinner or the Mill River Disaster. In fact, the only place where I even found a portrait of William Skinner was in our attic, hanging against the beams in a collage of old family photos. Nothing set him apart.

A Sense of Place

Last week I returned to Williamsburg, the town in which the Mill River Flood took place. The Williamsburg Historical Society had asked me if I would speak at their annual meeting this year, in conjunction with the launch of AMERICAN PHOENIX. The meeting was held in the First Congregational Church after a potluck supper and the instant I walked into the room, with everyone’s homemade dishes and warm welcomes, I felt a thrill of coming home.

Of silk and character

“What’s finer than silk?” Joseph Allen Skinner asked at a family reunion in 1922. He then answered, “It is Character. For it is our character which lives. It is our character which influences others. It is our character which gives us our place in society…”