i made you a mix tape of all my favorites this week!
I'll give you my thoughts about Silence, IAM Readers Guild January selection, in the next week or so. In the meantime, a few other titles I'm catching up on mentioning here:
Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters by Annie Dillard
I really just love this woman's writing. I'm excited that we'll be reading her Pulitzer-prize winning work Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for December's Readers Guild selection. Dillard is one of those authors who looks, really looks at the world and then writes it in a way that's both poetic and pragmatic. The art and the science of the universe. A writer who throws out sentences like: I have been reading comparative cosmology. And then a beat later, a sentence like: The mountains are great stone bells; they clang together like nuns.
I love that. I'd like to write like that.
This collection of essays could be considered a collection of noticing. Trekking cross-country with her husband to experience an eclipse: I saw, early in the morning, the sun diminish against a backdrop of sky. I saw a circular piece of that sky appear, suddenly detached, blackened, and backlighted; from nowhere it came and overlapped the sun. ("Total Eclipse")
Winsomely comparing her new church experience (Catholic mass) to historically grand, but oft' misguided arctic expeditions: ...nobody said things were going to be easy. A taste for the sublime is a greed like any other, after all..." ("An Expedition to the Pole")
Some people I know think of her essay "Living Like Weasels" to be an almost mandatory text for those living in conflict about calling: The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse.
The truth is, next to the holy Scriptures, the other words I think I should be memorizing are Annie Dillard's. Of all the words in this book, the ones I find most affirming in my current life as a crafter of corporate worship services are these most brilliant gems of Dillard-words from "An Expedition to the Pole" :
On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return....and this...
A high school stage play is more polished than this service we have been rehearsing since the year one. In two thousand years, we have not worked out the kinks. We positively glorify them. Week after week we witness the same miracle: that God is so mighty he can stifle his own laughter. Week after week, we witness the same miracle: that God, for reasons unfathomable, refrains from blowing our dancing bear act to smithereens. Week after week Christ washes the disciples' dirty feet, handles their very toes, and repeats, It is all right -- believe it or not -- to be people.
Who can believe it?
oly Bible: Mosaic, New Living Translation published by Tyndale
A delightful Christmas gift from my parents. I've been spending time with the NLT over the past year and when I discovered I could get this translation PLUS a devotional that follows the full liturgical calendar, writings from saints on every continent and within every century, theologically-rich artwork from historic and contemporary artists AND a space for my own written reflections, well, I was smitten. It's a beautiful book and I'm enjoying using it as part of my devotional discipline. I highly recommend it!
- Sara Zarr: This is a new blog I frequent. I loved her thoughts on whether or not to "cash out" her Facebook account. Just some good writing about the pros and cons of social networking. And human connectivity, in general.
- Curator magazine: Recently Brian and I were talking with friends about the challenges of counter-cultural parenting in a peer-parenting world. A day or two later I read this article about counter-cultural parenting in the childhood mecca of Disney World. Good stuff.
- The Ultimate Christian Novel. This one's just for chuckles. And it made me grin.
- Andrew Peterson: I've been checking out a new-to-me artist that my blogging friend Haley Ballast recommended. I'm still just becoming familiar with him, but I have a strong suspicion I'll be raving about him here soon. (By the way, I love suggestions! Books, music, films, links, artwork... I eat suggestions for breakfast and late-night snacks. Send 'em my way!)
- Hope for Haiti: We didn't get to watch the telethon, but over dinner and wine with friends last night we heard about some of the performances. Especially impressive was the heart-breaking beauty of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah as performed by Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris. If you've been around here long you know how I feel about that song. And how I feel is this: pieces of it approach artistic perfection, musically poetic telling of beauty that can arrive after brokenness. And just when you think this song can't stand the test of performance again, it does. You can watch the telethon footage here.
Over the past couple of weeks, we caught up on two titles Andrew's been asking us to watch with him.
This documentary of Katrina in New Orleans includes first-hand video footage as the storm was brewing, while it was pouring and after it left the city wrecked and forsaken. It's a raw but redemptive story, no matter your political conclusions of the aftermath.
Watch a clip here.
- The Hurt Locker: another film with Academy nods. Another film that does not allow story to get sucked up in its potential for political preachiness.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: This is our daughters' request. Really, though, is there a much better way to spend a day off from school and work than to just cozy down with blankets, snacks and movies that take your imagination to fantastical places and creatures? We don't think so.
Places:Brian and I took a road trip to Durham to visit friends, pray, and seek spiritual direction for our lives. And it was good. All signs point to big learnings here, so I'm guessing I'll be taking up blog space on the subject soon. For now, the reminder that, for us, road trips are almost always spiritual pilgrimages.
David makes charts (and prayers).
Also, Phaedra makes art in the kitchen.
Brian humors me by packing his pockets with prickly pinecones from the Sarah P. Duke gardens.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Psalm 91: 1-4