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Alternative Seasonal Reading

THE DAYS shorten and the scriptures get wild and woolly and Advent begins. Meanwhile, the secular holiday season builds in a frenzy of car commercials (does anyone really get a car for Christmas?), sale flyers, and often-forced cheer. Here are a few books—memoirs, spiritual writings, and art—that can be interesting, grounding, and inspiring companions for a complicated time of year. (They also are much easier to wrap than a car.)

LIFE STORIES

Good God, Lousy World, and Me: The Improbable Journey of a Human Rights Activist from Unbelief to Faith, by Holly Burkhalter. Convergent Books. Decades in political and human rights work convinced Holly Burkhalter that there couldn’t be a loving God—until she became a believer at age 52.

Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write, edited by Marybeth Christie Redmond and Sarah W. Bartlett. Orbis. I was in prison, and you listened to my story. Moving works from inside a Vermont prison.

God on the Rocks: Distilling Religion, Savoring Faith, by Phil Madeira. Jericho Books. Nashville songwriter, producer, and musician Phil Madeira offers lyrical, wry observations on faith and life, from his evangelical roots to musing on a God who “knows she’s a mystery.”

My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, by Christian Wiman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Wiman, a poet and the editor of Poetry magazine, tells of his harrowing illness and a return to faith.

The Geography of Memory: A Pilgrimage Through Alzheimer’s, by Jeanne Murray Walker. Center Street. A moving, honest, and often surprisingly hopeful account of a writer and her sister accompanying their mother as she experiences dementia.

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'The Hungry Soul in Pursuit of the Full Soul'

‘The Hungry Soul in Pursuit of the Full Soul’
On Proverbs 8

My saints won’t be named by a church.
Their sainthood won’t stand as statues. Listen.
Voices
calm as cooking directions
play continually—

If any thing’s resurrectible, it’s memory:
those eyes,
song-haloed, so full of lightness
nothing could stop their flight;
not a Thomas who peers into pupils’ darkness,

not a ravenous soul left grounded.
We are born, yin-yanged, of lightning
with saints and putti the lightest of all.
But love-rumpled faces, quick limbs, and pierced hearts
are unstable, done only in clay.

If Wisdom, God’s darling, still lifts voice to play
on this earth, and if (how could it be?)
she delights in mankind, may hunger hollow
this body to nothing but ear—which, night or day,
hears continually—

Muriel Nelson, author of Part Song and Most Wanted, lives near Seattle.

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Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: April 26, 2012

Zenaida Macroura (Mourning Dove) painting by John J. Audubon. Public domain imag
Zenaida Macroura (Mourning Dove) painting by John J. Audubon. Public domain image.

Happy 227th Birthday to ornithologist and painter John J. Audubon -- find your voice with the public radio name generator -- a rescued collie dog's survival story -- Australia's duck fashion parade -- the cast of 30 Rock plays charades -- new music from J. Tillman and The Welcome Wagon. Read these stories and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...

 

The Sacred Rite of Hunting Bald Eagles

Bald eagle via shutterstock.com
Bald eagle via shutterstock.com

We often hear that there’s a “war on religion,” that certain expressions of Christianity are under attack by secularists seeking a new age of post-God. And while things may or may not be easy for Christians, our rituals are not prohibited by law, like some of our Native American neighbors.

Until recently, it was illegal for Native Americans to acquire bald eagle feathers and parts – relics used for a variety of tribal rituals and ceremonies – by any means other than family or the National Eagle Repository in Denver. 

For Gulf Coast Residents, the Oil Spill Nightmare Continues

For three months last year the Gulf Coast oil spill was the major topic of news reports all over the world. From the explosion on April 20, 2010, until the capping of the gushing well on July 15, 2010, the headlines were consumed with images and dialogue about the tragedy unfolding before our very eyes. Shortly after the news of the capping, the government reported that “most” of the oil was gone, and that things were getting back to normal. The camera crews packed up. The reporters turned in their hotel room keys and gathered their deductible tax receipts. And they all left. Kumbaya, the oil was gone, and the world was normal again. The world could move on to other, more pressing interests. That is … the rest of the world could move on to other, more pressing interests.

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