THIS SUMMER, in Mississippi, I sat by my father’s bed for three weeks and watched him die. After that, I drove one of my kids from Kentucky to New England for a college visit. Along the way, we climbed a mountain and spent the night in a rest area when we couldn’t find a motel room. Then, with five-sixths of my family and three weeks’ worth of camping gear packed into (and onto) an aging minivan, we drove to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Along the way, in British Columbia, we went through an active wildfire and saw a tree explode into flames about 50 feet from our van. At Banff we saw a moose, two grizzly bears, and the vast acres of gravel left behind by the rapidly receding Columbia Icefield.
On every step of this long, strange trip, I carried with me a big, fat, well-worn paperback book, its margins filled with my youngest son’s class notes. So, what did I do this summer? I read The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Every night—well, most nights—I spent 15 or 20 minutes accompanying the poet of the early 1300s down into the depths of Hell, up the winding mountain trails of Purgatory, and on to the beatific vision of Paradise.
On April 10, Columbia University presented 21 Pulitzer Prizes for achievements in journalism, literature, and music. Notables from the list of social justice-oriented works that received a Pulitzer Prize include: New York Daily News and ProPublica receiving the Public Service award for reporting on evictions of mostly poor minorities carried out by police abusing the law —
The Gospel isn’t simplistic, and its representations shouldn’t be, either. If The Shack were created with this creed in mind, perhaps it would be a better work of art. Instead, sadly, it’s nothing more than a religious tract.
Where do we find quality stories for children about a diverse world? Not books that preach, but that evoke empathy and curiosity and different perspectives through good stories and/or art? As is the case across all publishing categories, books by and about people of color (or people who are not able-bodied or citizens or middle-class or otherwise conforming to a mainstream standard) are in the minority.
NOT LONG AFTER graduating college, I read everything I could find about various expressions of Christian community. Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon the stories of Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and the other Catholic Workers who would follow in their footsteps. I remember being immediately captivated by the Catholic Worker vision for hospitality houses that were community hubs for both action—growing food, feeding the hungry, protesting American militarism—and learning—cultivating conversation and reflection on radical Christian faithfulness and the socioeconomic vision that defined the movement.
Although perhaps more widely admired for their activism and works of mercy, the Catholic Workers have long published a newspaper that is a catalyst for their social vision—fusing the stories of scripture, saints, and literature with the ubiquitous challenge to live faithfully in an age marked by greed and violence. In the words of Maurin, an essential part of their mission is to make “workers out of scholars and scholars out of workers.”
Pulitzer-Prize winning author Marilynne Robinson draws a wide fan base that spans lovers of serious literature, including many conservative Christians. This fall, she will release “Lila,” a follow-up to her earlier novels “Gilead” (2004) and “Home” (2008) about a 1950s-era Iowa town that won her many accolades.
Robinson’s diverse fan base was described in The American Conservative as “Christian, not Conservative.” As the author noted, Robinson is far from holding up ideals put forward by the religious right. But that doesn’t stop conservative Christians from engaging with her writing.
Before giving an address at Union Theological Seminary this spring, Robinson spoke to Religion News Service about a variety of social issues. In the interview, Robinson explained why she thinks Christians are fearful, why she loves theologian John Calvin and whether she’ll join Twitter.
95 seconds of 90s television nostalgia – Mike Birbiglia and Ira Glass prepare for the release of their first feature film Sleepwalk With Me – Arrested Development set to film in one month – Earnest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms releases with 47 alternate endings. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
On Monday evening Wendell Berry delivered the 41st annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, sponsored by the National Endowment of the Humanities, at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. According to the NEH, this is “the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.”
In front of hundreds, Berry took his place among former recipients (Walker Percy, Toni Morrison, Arthur Miller, John Updike, and many others) to deliver a resonating essay on the beauty of place, imagination, and pleasure, titled “It All Turns on Affection.” The title hinges on E.M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End, which Berry said, takes some of its thrust as a “manifesto against materialism.”
Experience the Hunger Games... a history of dystopian literature, tips for surviving the environmental apocalypse, a spoof Coca-Cola ad, soundtrack music from Arcade Fire, fans of the games depicted in charts, American voices respond to the film, and a longer, slightly more accurate book title.
Taking a look at Valentines Day with clever recipes, cards, stories, and clothing items. Videos of love across language barriers. A couple of sentimental mixtapes. The greatest kisses in literature. And finally, nothing says romance like a tour of an NYC sweage plant.
A loop of 19 television shows referencing one another. Interfaith musical collaboration on the old hymn, "The Lord Will Provide." Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie talks to Terry Gross about his work on The Muppets film. The first look at the new trailer for Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. An amazing trick performed with an excavator, and more!
Groundhog's Day 101, five-year-old on advertising logos, more on the Puppy Bowl, and dogs delivering receipts to customers at a veterinary clinic. Plus several posts on books, including Jonathan Franzen's thoughts on eBooks, and a look at 2012 Oscar nominee The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmorin. Click to see more.
Sing along to the news with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Vermin Supreme, and Newt Gingrich. See what happens when things that shouldn't be put in the microwave are cooked. Read about Dwight Schrute's new television endeavor. Listen to an acapella mashup of Bon Iver and Bon Jovi. And more...
When Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis departed on his three-month sabbatical at the beginning of January, I sent him a list of books, films and music that I thought would nourish his mind and spirit in, perhaps, different ways than the media he normally consumes do.
Jim's sabbatical — a true Sabbath in the literal sense — is designed to be a time of rest and, more importantly, rejuvenation. It will also be a creative time when he will be working on a new book.
Jim is a creative. A writer. A visionary. He regularly digs deep into his heart and soul, breaks himself open and pours out his passion, hope and faith for the edification of others. If creatives aren't diligent, though, we can work ourselves into the ground. Our wells can run dry.
In sending Jim this list of what I like to think of as "soul food," I hoped to inspire his imagination and give him new fuel for the fire, if you will.
President Obama wishes Betty White a happy 90th birthday, Will Farrell's homemade commercials for Old Milwaukee, contest for Anne Rice's new novel, Megadeath bassist to become ordained Lutheran minister, and more.
Polaroid camera are back on the market, apocalypse survival guide, Jack Kerouac for bros, the NBA begins using 3D graphics, the hit show Portlandia, James Franco's new film, classic album covers are given a clip art makeover, and more.