Author and Poet Maya Angelou Dies at 86

Angelou reciting her poem, "On the Pulse of Morning", at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, January 1993. Public Domain.

Maya Angelou, a renowned author, poet and civil right activist, has died at 86. Angelou, know for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, also authored six other autobiographies along with numerous collections of poems.

Throughout her career, Angelou she was active in the Civil Rights movement, working with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. She also served a one point as the Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group founded following the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dr. King and others.

NBC News reports her numerous achievements: 

Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, under the name Marguerite Annie Johnson. She grew up to become a singer, dancer, actress, writer and Hollywood's first female black director.

Angelou had an impressive list of accolades: She was a three-time Grammy winner and was nominated for a Pulitzer, a Tony, an an Emmy for her role in the groundbreaking television mini-series "Roots."

Marianne Williamson's Prayerful Bid for Political Office

Marianne Williamson campaign photo courtesy of Marianne Williamson for Congress. Via RNS.

It’s not a typical campaign for U.S. Congress, and that’s the point.

Best-selling author and spiritual lecturer Marianne Williamson closed out a campaign volunteer meeting Thursday, by beckoning the crowd of about 100 people to do what she does naturally — pray. Chatter ceased, heads bowed.

After praying for humanity and for the country, Williamson offered up, “May love prevail. And so it is.” The rapt audience replied in turn: “And so it is.”

An Edgy Pastor Whose Edginess Isn’t Just Shtick

RNS photo by Sally Morrow

The Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints. RNS photo by Sally Morrow

PASADENA, Calif. — The first thing most people mention when they talk about Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber is her tattoos. She has many — most of them religious in nature, including a large icon of Mary Magdalene covering her right forearm.

Then they talk about how tall she is (6 foot 1), that she looks more like the lead singer of an all-girl punk rock band than a pastor and that she (unapologetically) swears a lot — even from the pulpit while preaching.

All of the above is true and part of what makes Bolz-Weber unique among high-profile pastors and so-called “Christian authors.” (I hate that term. The word “Christian” is best used as a noun, not an adjective.)

The Mythical World of Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy novels, cdrummbks /

Tom Clancy novels, cdrummbks /

The books of Tom Clancy, who passed away this week, contain some of the most detailed description of military weaponry and procedures the public is likely to see. And people want to believe it: Clancy’s world is one in which technology can provide security and the so-called experts can be trusted to protect us. He takes a complex world and doesn’t merely simplify it, but rather creates super humans and super machines that can manage the world’s complexities.

Maurice Sendak Has Died

Sendak/Wild Things image via By .Va i ♥ ven. Arp/Wylio.

Sendak/Wild Things image via By .Va i ♥ ven. Arp/Wylio.

“But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go - we’ll eat you up - we love you so!”
And Max said, “No!”
The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws, but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.”
~ Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of unmatched and unfettered whimsy, whose fertile imagination gave children (of all ages) Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Pierre and most recently Bumble-Ardy, died today in Connecticut. He was 83.