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The Cresset
A Review of Literature, Fine Arts, and Current Affairs
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The Treasury of Valparaiso:
New Acquisitions in Context
at the Brauer Museum of Art

John Ruff

Here is one thing most people—even people at Valparaiso University—do not know: as unlikely as it is that a small Lutheran university in Northwest Indiana would have a basketball program as strong as Valpo’s, it is even more unlikely it would have a museum with a collection as rich and as deep as that which resides quietly and unobtrusively at the Brauer Museum of Art. Read More

An Order for Delivery:
How the Food and Birth Movements Connect,
and What One Can Learn from the Other

Agnes R. Howard

On a recent flight I sat behind a dad flying solo with three daughters, a comparative rarity from which it was hard to look away. The eldest in the window seat used earbuds to defend her personal space. The baby squirmed on the father’s lap. The middle child spent most of the flight watching construction of an elaborate cake on the Food Network, whisk attachment sending up billows of whipped cream, offset spatula spreading batter across the whole of the child’s small screen.  Read More

A New History Museum Tries to Get Religion

James B. LaGrand

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the latest history museum to be added to the Mall in Washington, D.C., is approaching its first birthday. It has already proved a massive success. It has drawn well over a million visitors and created a buzz about how to acquire the much-coveted advance online passes. Read More

Deaf in the Brain

Gary Fincke

When my father looked confused, his neighbor told him to put the car in neutral and steer while he pushed it into the street. My father didn’t move, but he let his neighbor open the car door and do as he pleased. In a minute the car was parked along the curb. “Bill,” his neighbor said, “look at all that gas on the ground. You’re lucky you didn’t blow yourself up. What did you run over?”  Read More

Al Spangler

Thomas C. Willadsen

Three years ago my passengers were in the Congo hiding from war’s crossfire. Now they are in my Prius on slippery Wisconsin roads, maybe not fearing for their lives, but certainly wondering, “How did we get here? And who is this guy driving the car?”  Read More

Also In This Issue
Jeanne Murray Walker
Andrew D. Miller
Julie Sumner
Julie L. Moore
Tiffany Eberle Kriner


Reforming Our Visions of City Nature

Lea F. Schweitz

Let me tell you a story. It’s one that my family tells about my mother as a young girl on a family outing. The only thing I know about this outing is that my mom was bitten by a Canada goose (Branta canadensis). Since geese don’t technically have teeth, the story may be slightly exaggerated. In defense of the goose, it is likely that there were goslings nearby, and she was simply trying to protect them. However, my mom’s encounter left an impression. Read More

Christ in the University: Edmund Schlink's Vision

Matthew L. Becker

For the past decade, I have regularly taught a course on Christians in Nazi Germany, a topic that seems more relevant today than when I started. One of the theologians we examine in that course is Edmund Schlink (1903-1984), who taught ecumenical theology at Heidelberg University after the Second World War.  Read More

Remembering Arlin: The "Gentle Giant of Christ College and the Lilly Fellows Program

Mark R. Schwehn

When I first returned to Valparaiso University in 1983 to take a teaching position in Christ College, my dean was Arlin Meyer. As I was settling in to my new office early one morning, I discovered that Arlin was watering and otherwise tending the garden in the Mueller Hall courtyard. As I watched Arlin do this as part of his morning ritual every day for as long as the weather permitted it, I thought it was simply his own way of unwinding and centering himself. But I came to realize that this gardening was really a preparation for what was in a word Arlin’s life work: teaching. Read More

Uniting Liberal and Professional Learning through Christian Mission

Stephany Schlachter

To some degree, the campaign to advance liberal arts has created a separation between liberal and professional education. But perhaps a constructive strategy might be more effective: integrating liberal and professional education grounded in practice as well as in mission.  Read More

Jesuit Higher Education in the Age of Pope Francis

Peter Ely, S.J.

No one was more surprised at the election of a Jesuit Pope than the Jesuits themselves. We never thought that was a possibility. It would certainly have surprised Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, who didn’t even want Jesuits to become bishops at all, let alone the Bishop of Rome. So when the news came on March 13, 2013, that Jorge Bergoglio, an Argentine Jesuit, had been elected pope and taken the name Francis—not in honor of the Jesuit Francis Xavier but of the Franciscan Francis of Assisi—we were startled, and more than a little nervous, too.  Read More

Into the Wilderness

Paul J. Willis

In the college where I teach there is now an Office of Educational Effectiveness—which, to increase its Orwellian elegance, may as well be called the Office of Efficacious Educational Effectiveness. I have suggested we ban the term educational effectiveness and replace it with the word learningRead More

Also In This Issue
Jeremy Michael Reed
J. T. Ledbetter


Finding the Book

David Heddendorf

A close friend told me recently that he can no longer read the Bible. He isn't as angry as Frank Schaeffer, whose Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God kicked up a fuss a couple of years ago, but like Schaeffer he's the son of a Calvinist preacher and has spent a long time searching for an alternative path. Read More

The Towpath

Sarah Hinlicky Wilson

I used to have a singularly long and skinny backyard, thirty-six miles from end to end and about ten feet wide: the towpath along the Delaware and Raritan Canal. Sometimes I shared it with others, on Sunday afternoons with the leisurely sorts and at either end of the workday with the jogging sorts.  Read More

Reading Shirley Jackson

Michael Kramer

I grow concerned about Shirley Jackson. Perhaps I grow sad. I suppose that seems rather odd--she's been dead since just before my birthday in 1965, before my freshman year in high school. And, after all, the reputation of the woman and the respect she's earned as a writer depend little on my opinion or concerns. Read More

What the World Needs Now

Kevin Cawley

Tode had to walk the dog. I was visiting him from out of town and wanted to talk, so I went along. We found our way to the topic of What the World Needs Now.  Read More

On Becoming Grief Outlaws

Jacqueline Bussie

In the eighteenth century in Tahiti, women in mourning used a shark's tooth to cut a small, deep scratch in their foreheads. The cut permanently scarred the woman's face, rendering it a grief-letter to the world, postmarked: I have loved and lost.  Read More

What We Carry, and Lose, Along the Way

Joel Kurz

On an early morning in May of 2015, my brother and sister and I strapped on our backpacks in an immigrant corner of Bilbao, Spain, and began walking the northern route of The Way of St. James. Even though each of us had gone out for trial hikes with weighted packs in preceding weeks, something about the initial feeling of this journey's actual heft on our shoulders, backs, and hips steeled us with resolve for waht we had undertaken. Read More

Of Fathers and Sons and a Used Tire

Preston Thomas

One hardly needed episode VII of Star Wars for the revelation that relationships between fathers and sons can be problematic. The mythic pathos of father and son conflicting amid mutual misunderstanding had already been played out between Luke and Darth Vader. The trope of father-son mutual incomprehension has a long and reputable history in folklore, literature, and, of course, more recently, film and television. Read More

Also In This Issue


Muriel Spark's Theological Fiction

David Heddendorf

Muriel Spark, who died in 2006, has always resisted classification. Born in Edinburgh in 1918 to a Jewish father and a Gentile mother of, biographer Martin Stannard observes, "eclectic religious tastes," she made her way, with no college education, through a brief unhappy marriage, a sojourn in Africa, a stint of wartime propaganda work, and a hand-to-mouth existence as a London woman of letters, before emerging in her forties as a best-selling, critically acclaimed novelist....Read More

The 2016 Election Roundtable

Chris W. Bonneau, Jennifer Hora, David Lott, and Geoffrey Bowden

I have been a professional political scientist since 2002. I study American politics from a quantitative perspective, which means I deal exclusively with data, not "momentum" or "feelings." And in the early hours of November 9, 2016, much about elections that I thought I knew I discovered I did not.... Read More

We've Lost that Losing Feeling: A Response to the 2016 Chicago Cubs Season

Thomas C. Willadsen

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the Chicago Cubs' most recent campaign, I too decided, after investigating the matter carefully, to write an account to you, Baseballphile, so that you may know the Truth. The stunning, earth-shattering truth that Cubs fans have been lifted out of darkness into the light and peace of a World Series championship. Far more than Hope, our faith is the evidence of things that are now at last seen, such as a pennant flying on the North Side of Chicago.... Read More

On the Twelfth Night of Christmas

Cara Strickland

I waited with great anticipation for the cake to be cut. Inside, I knew, were all of the members of the nativity story, small wooden figures suspended inside the chocolate cake. I couldn't wait to get my piece and see who might be inside. If it was baby Jesus, I knew I would get a prize.  Read More

Bound by Grief: Writing through the Loss of a Child

Harold K. Bush

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and W. E. B. Du Bois all shared one harrowing experience that shaped their writing and careers in profound ways, yet few readers know this fact. These great nineteenth-century American figures all wrote in the context of their suffering as bereaved parents. They found themselves inducted into a club that nobody wants to join, yet somehow each of them found constructive ways to remember their beloved dead. Read More

Also In This Issue


Marilynne Robinson's Home
and the Stories We Tell in Ordinary Time

Dustin D. Benac


The nature of faith demands that we see and hear God in the ordinary realities of our existence. Christians have historically marked this reality with the liturgical season of Ordinary Time, but the very ordinariness of Ordinary Time means that we often have little clue how to inhabit this season, much less how to attend to and tell ordinary stories....Read More

Come to the Table:
Exploring Agrobiodiversity, Relationships,
and Taste with Simran Sethi

Cara Strickland


Although I’ve written about food professionally for the last five years, it’s amazing how often I forget to think about the people and places that produce my food. I pay attention to the way it tastes and how it blends with the other things on my plate or in my glass, but I don’t always pause to wonder what country my tea is from, who made my bread, or what all goes into the microbrew I’m sipping on a Friday night.... Read More

God and Man in Iceland

Thomas Albert Howard


Recently I had the opportunity to lead a study trip to Iceland as part of an ongoing effort to reflect on the legacy of Protestantism in light of the Reformation’s quincentenary in 2017. Like other Scandinavian countries, Iceland has possessed an established Lutheran church since the sixteenth century, even if growing levels of secularity characterize the island republic today. But though I set out to discover Protestantism in Iceland, what first smacked me in the soul was Iceland itself: a geologic peculiarity, a cultural storehouse, a clump of aching beauty plunked down in the heart of the Atlantic.  Read More


Gary Fincke


In space, the hearts of astronauts become rounder. According to the scientists who have studied this phenomenon, the hearts of those who spend long periods of time in space were transformed into a shape that averaged nearly 10 percent more spherical after six months.  Read More

The Hookup Culture, Revisited

Christina Bieber Lake


When it comes to the hookup culture and the question of the impact that our culture’s sexual mores is having on young women, one surprisingly revelatory recent collection of short stories is Katherine Heiny’s Single, Carefree, Mellow. Heiny’s voice is haunting and distinctive, and her perspective is keen. The overall collection feels like a mix between Lena Dunham’s current HBO series Girls, and the older HBO series Sex and the City. It is sharply ironic, laugh-out-loud funny, jarringly intimate, and, in the end, more about the lives and needs of real women than it is about sex.  Read More

Also In This Issue
Aaron Morrison
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