Russell E. Saltzman is a former Lutheran pastor, transitioning to the Roman Catholic Church.

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Bessie’s House

From Web Exclusives

Five years ago, Mike Low started Bessie’s House in Kansas City’s Northeast neighborhood, where unemployment is at 16 percent and median household income is $25,000. An average resident has a one-in-twelve chance of being the victim of a violent crime. Any way you measure it, the place is stuck in poverty. But Low sees something different. Continue Reading »

Body vs. Brain

From Web Exclusives

Facebook users have run across a quiz purporting to measure one’s mental age against one’s actual physical age. I can’t see the point of it but, so what, I took it anyway. Twice, actually—I was dissatisfied with the first result. Mental age is subjective and my subjectivity suggested something different than Facebook’s. Continue Reading »

The Poor Are Not Middle Class

From Web Exclusives

Linda Tirado’s poverty was a horrible grind with no means of ready escape. “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts,” her blog post that chronicled this poverty, went viral last November. By early December, Tirado had critics—many, many critics—who more or less made her out to be a poor little rich girl gone slumming, trying to pull a scam with her gofundme page (that incidentally netted her some $61,000). A news outlet described her article as one of several web hoaxes that year. Continue Reading »

When the Bible Became a Musical

From Web Exclusives

As a rule, I don’t like musicals. Well, it’s not “as” a rule. It is a rule. I do not like musicals. I never watched Glee, unless the women at my house were monopolizing the television. I walked out of The Sound of Music; something about Maria racing to the top of a hill singing with no hint of asthmatic reaction ruined it for me. I did stay through Les Misérables, though dying people singing tend to annoy me, but it was operatic and no one was asking me to believe that perfectly ordinary people frequently burst into spur-of-the-moment song. I never break into spontaneous song, not if someone might be listening. Why should anyone else? Continue Reading »

The Poor Poetry of Death

From Web Exclusives

We are planning another funeral, one of the small duties of which is selecting materials for inclusion in the folder that will be handed out to guests. The funeral home offered sample poetic spiritual selections for the funeral program. These poems are meant to offer consolation, but the ones commonly offered by funeral homes do something like the opposite. Continue Reading »

Death, Again

From Web Exclusives

Another intrusive death is rising in my life, and not just my own. He was a vigorous seventy-eight-year-old until last November. Then he experienced a fall, and another, and swiftly lost his motor skills. In the space of just a few weeks he quickly went from cane to walker to wheelchair to bed. Continue Reading »