Saturday, February 08, 2014

I haven't been blogging for over a month, but I've got lots to talk about.

While I take a break from blogging, 
may I recommend TEN GREAT [online] READS?

In January, I discovered a Great Mystery: 
the lowly sweet potato can be transformed into this

I've set aside a few of my favorite things this month (blogging and writing) in order to make space to get a few other important parts of my life in order.  My job, my health, my hair.  For real.  These 3 parts of my life have been out of whack for a while now and needed some TLC.  Plus, I'm starting to work full time and, friends, how DO you do that?!? 

I'll be back in a week or two because I miss you!  In the meantime, may I suggest the following reads as worthy of your time and attention?

--- 1 ---
The Gospel According to Philip Seymour Hoffman by Fr James Martin, SJ:  I am so sad about this man's death. Through various articles written in the wake of the actor's overdose,  I stumbled on this hopeful note written about PSH in 2009 by the priest who served as a consultant during the production of the stage version of Doubt.  

--- 2 ---
The Second-Coming of Flannery O'Connor by Gregory Wolfe at Good Letters:  I've been following this conversation from a distance but last week got to hear Dana Gioia speak at a writer's conference at Houston Baptist University.  I find the dialogue interesting, but also a bit frustrating, circular.  I do believe these sorts of conversations about the themes of faith and religious belief continuing from a rich history (like O'Connor) into a rich future do bear fruit over a long time.  And so I read and watch from a distance, hoping to learn and grow.

--- 3 ---
In Praise of Mediocrity at Front Porch Republic: I think someone directly involved in the Catholic novels dialogue should read James Matthew Wilson -- as well as the  personal essay by Karen Ullo (Why We Need Mediocre Artists) he excerpts.  The whole idea of being part of a tradition -- of using my weak contribution to keep that tradition alive -- is quite encouraging.  

--- 4 ---
All Things Vile and Vicious by Jeffrey Alan Mays: Speaking of keeping a tradition alive, my friend Jeffrey has written a novel.  In this blog post (which I love!) he provides a justification (for his mother and any of the rest of us scratching our heads) for writing words that might seem out of character coming from a writer who also is a Christian. 

Also, when the first sentence of a blog post is this, how can you NOT love the rest:  "An interesting thing happens to many writers the first time they write a story with foul language, erotic scenes, butcher knives dripping with blood, or characters with twisted psychologies: they have to show their story their mothers."

If you'd like to read something Jeffrey has already published check out Jeffrey's short story in this anthology of eco-horror stories: Growing Concerns.  I told Jeffrey it's good to know him because before now the only eco-horror story I knew was Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed.  

--- 5 ---
A Speck in the Sea by Paul Tough in the NY Times Magazine:  I don't know if a man fighting death in the Long Island Sound counts as eco-horror but this true story is one of the few online reads I could not put down.  Tough takes an already-compelling story about life and death and draws the reader in further -- into the larger story of the Long Island roughneck fishing industry, the heroic work of the United States Coast Guard and the surprising alternate use of a pair of boots.  

I just read that the Weinstein Company has picked up the screen writes for this story.  May I suggest you read the story in the NY Times first?

--- 6 ---
A New Normal by Catherine Woodiwiss at catapult* magazine: Every other week, catapult* publishes a new issue surrounding a pre-selected theme.  The first issue of 2014 invited contributing writers to make a "List of Ten Things" -- about any subject.  Ms. Woodiwiss wrote one of the best lists I've ever read about caring well for those who are recovering from trauma.  This is a list I want to read again and again as I endeavor to walk alongside pain in this world. 

(here's a list of some of my own contributions to catapult* in the past few years)

--- 7 ---
It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God from Square Halo Books:  I do not make music but I am nourished by it and hope to support the people who -- through blood, sweat and tears -- make the music that nourishes me.  Brian Moss is one of many contributing authors whose music has been part of my landscape. I'm especially looking forward to his (counter-intuitive) essay, Silence.

--- 8 ---
Syria crisis: Evacuation operation in Horn begins at BBC News: My intention has been to pray for Syria often during the crisis that is ravaging their nation.  I am poor at keeping my intention but have been helped by the frequent Scripture prayers posted on Lent & Beyond: An Anglican Prayer blog.  While I celebrate the evacuation of 83 civilians my heart breaks for the ongoing, uncounted sufferings of this ancient nation. 

--- 9 ---
Pete Seeger: The Power of Song on American Masters, PBS video: Last week one of my favorite troubadours spent a few days with us in Austin.  We invited as many people as we could squeeze into our little house to hear Jason Harrod's music.  It was no small irony that one of those days we also learned about the death of Pete Seeger.  Listening to Jason skillfully sing us stories with the guitar Mr. Seeger himself had signed during a mentoring meal on his upstate New York farm made the house shows even more meaningful.  Since I'm about 35 years behind the learning curve of most cultural icons, I found this documentary fascinating and inspiring.  I think you will, too.

Our little Austin house crammed with music patrons.

--- 10 ---
Help finish our sex trafficking film at GoFundMeTrade In Hope is making a film about sex trafficking in America and what communities can do to end it. It's a film that moves beyond sensationalized images to explore the power of the human spirit to rise up and the ability we have to overcome together. This film is important to me not only because of the cause or the focus on our city of Austin, but because we are in the same community at Christ Church as Michelle Nehme and her brother John -- the champions and makers for this project. We are proud of them and hoping for the remaining approximately $6,000 they need to complete this important project.


A beauty and grace-filled weekend for us all, dear ones.

I hope to be back here writing soon.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear if you read anything from my list.  Tell me your thoughts in a comment, won't you?

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