Category Archives: Link Love

Ten for Tuesday: Joy, Inspiration, and Tough Conversations

Here we go!

1. Robert E. Lee Worshipped Here: A Southern church wrestles with its Confederate history.

That church is St. Paul’s Episcopal in Richmond, where I am preaching all week as part of their mid-day Lenten series, a 120-year old tradition. (Wow!) It’s been lovely to get to know these people, and as it turns out, they are featured in Sojourners Magazine this very month about their efforts to come to terms with their past. Article link is above; below is a short video:

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2. Breathe Easy, Repeat.

The alumni magazine of Rice University had a great story about how Rice professors and students have helped saved the lives of preemies in Malawi through a cheap, sturdy CPAP machine made from a simple aquarium pump. Improv at its life-saving best! Proud of my alma mater.

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3. Artist Replaces Billboards with Photos of the Landscapes They’re Blocking

visible-distance-second-sight-my-jennifer-bolande-for-desertx-1When life hands you lemons, err billboards…

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4. These are the top 37 things you’ll regret when you’re old

Number 1 is travel. Some expected ones and some surprising ones.

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5. A Mendelssohn masterpiece was really his sister’s. After 188 years, it premiered under her name.

“Easter Sonata” — a complex four-movement piano composition from 19th century Germany — could only have been written by Felix Mendelssohn.

Or so thought many of the archivists, scholars and musicians who encountered it. The sonata was “masculine,” “violent” and “ambitious,” all the hallmarks of the celebrated Romantic era composer.

Written in 1829, the manuscript of “Easter Sonata” was considered “lost” for more than 140 years, until the original turned up in a French book shop bearing the signature “F Mendelssohn.” The collector who bought it concluded the “F” stood for Felix.

It took yet another four decades and a lot of clever musicological sleuthing, but in 2010 a Duke University graduate student revealed what some had suspected all along: “Easter Sonata” was not written by Felix Mendelssohn, but by his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn, herself a musical prodigy.

Fantastic! Now let’s work on identifying all those “Anonymous” works…

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6. Walls and Wells: A Prayer of Confession

Last week’s NEXT Church National Gathering was as wonderful as it is every year. Many of us were captivated by one of the closing readings, a prayer that turned out to be written by a friend, Shelli Latham. So potent for these days:

Creator of All,
of the mountains that cut jagged and purple against an infinite sky,
of the forests that pulse like a heartbeat with an immeasurable collection
of wiggles and squiggles and colors and calls.
Creator of us – Imago Dei . . . made in the image of God.
And so we busy ourselves with creating too . . .
constructing, building, branding, barricading,
policing the sacred with a limited imagination for you unlimited grace.
And so we pray,
that you might overturn our misguided architecture.
For every barrier that should be a bridge,
for every wall that should be a table,
we pray, O God,
when we build them up,
won’t you knock them down?

Click the link above for the whole thing. Turns out confession really is good for the soul.

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7. Five Self-Care Strategies That Aren’t F***ing Mani-Pedis

There’s nothing wrong with a good mani-pedi, but I loved this article and have been working on putting many of these strategies in place for myself. Wise, with some PG-13 language.

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8. Miniature Displays of Contemporary Urban Buildings by Joshua Smith

Courtesy of Colossal. These are fantastic!

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Uh-oh, that’s only eight links!

I think I’ll let that be enough, inspired by numbers 15 and 23 of the regret article above. Haha.

Have a day filled with beauty and ordinary and extraordinary courage.

 

 

Ten for Tuesday

Onward!

1. Liz Climo is an illustrator on the Simpsons, and her cartoons are simply darling:

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2. Bees Are Awesome. This swarm apparently followed a car for two days to try and rescue its queen trapped inside.

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3. The Secret Student Group that Stood Up to the Nazis:

On this day, 74 years ago, three young adults placed their heads beneath a guillotine and prepared to die. Their crime? Speaking out against the Nazis with graffiti and hand-printed pamphlets. Their names? Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst. It was a violent end to a peaceful student movement known as the White Rose—one that used the power of language to resist the horrors of the Nazi regime.

#resist #neveragain

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4. This dude caught a baseball bat as it helicoptered toward him:

In related news, Luis Guillorme is Batman.

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5. Smithsonian Magazine is having a photo contest. Peruse and vote for your favorites here. I love this firewalking one from Binh Duong:

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6. Every New York Times Cover Since 1852. This quick video shows how and when images began to appear in the paper of record. It’s arresting and oddly poignant, to think about all of the news that came and went. We survived all of the things reported there. Perhaps we will survive today’s challenges too.

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7. Eight Changes Made to Richard Scarry Books: to keep up with the times. Love it.

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8. Tilapia to the Rescue!

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9. Your Weekly Wisdom from Mari Andrew’s Instagram: I’m making a habit of this.

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10. The Impact of a Book

A friend posted this to Facebook, a memory from a year ago. I love this art piece by Jorge Méndez Blake.

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What book has disturbed your well-ordered life?

 

Not-Quite-Ten for Tuesday: Book Deadline Edition

The next round of edits for Improvising with God is due on Friday, so I’ve got just a few to share this week in lightning-quick fashion:

1. This quote from George Saunders, shared by my friend Sharon Core on Facebook last week:

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

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2. This image posted by Rachel Hackenberg on Instagram:

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This is #lifegoals.

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3. Pinhole Camera Made from 32,000 Drinking Straws. Because people are fascinating.

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4. Ana Marie Cox’s New Podcast on Crooked Media called With Friends Like These. I haven’t listened yet, but here’s part of the description:

Ana will talk to liberals and conservatives, religious leaders, writers, activists, and people you should know for a show that’s about listening instead of arguing. And this isn’t just about figuring out why some dude in Michigan voted for Trump. Though that’s part of it. We should figure that out. It’s about actually exploring division instead of putting it in side-by-side boxes on television, whether it’s a conversation about politics or religion, race or gender, or belief itself. Ana has accrued a bunch of unlikely friends in politics, and she has strong disagreements with those friends, like this one guy whose name rhymes with “whoa far borough” for example.

*Joe Scarborough.

The first episode is with a Wisconsin pastor who talks about how his community voted for Obama… before voting for Trump. Now doesn’t that sound interesting? And maybe even a little healing to listen to?

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5. 17 Times Texas Was Completely Freaking Badass

A little Lone Star braggin’, but this entry relates to the previous one, actually. Consider #5:

5. When New Hope’s mayor, Jess Herbst, came out as transgender and the extremely conservative town of 600 was like *shrug*.

I heard Ana Marie Cox interviewed about her new podcast, and she talked about the disconnect between how mean we can be to one another online v. how much we take care of one another in our physical communities, even across political divides. Certainly there are exceptions to this, but I’ve found it to be generally true. She said, if we were as nasty to one another face to face as we were online, maybe there’d be no hope for us. But we’re not. So there is hope.

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What has inspired you this week?

Ten for Tuesday: Here’s Your Joy Inoculation!

Let’s get going:

1. All That We Share: courtesy of Denmark TV, the best three minutes you’ll spend today.

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2. Things You Can Control, courtesy of Think Grow Prosper (posted on Improvised Life)

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3. Teen Suicide Attempts Fell as Same-Sex Marriage Became Legal

Teen suicide attempts in the U.S. declined after same-sex marriage became legal and the biggest impact was among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids, a study found.

The research found declines in states that passed laws allowing gays to marry before the Supreme Court made it legal nationwide. The results don’t prove there’s a connection, but researchers said policymakers should be aware of the measures’ potential benefits for youth mental health.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for all U.S. teens. Suicidal behavior is much more common among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids and adults; about 29 percent of these teens in the study reported attempting suicide, compared with just 6 percent of straight teens.

Love wins.

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4. Using Improv to Help Kids with Autism. Yes!!

“What improv really does is create a safe and fun and authentic environment in which to practice, where mistakes really don’t matter,” says Jim Ansaldo, a research scholar at Indiana University.

Ansaldo runs Camp Yes And, an improv summer camp for teens with autism. He says improv-specific programs for children with autism are rare — he knows of about a half dozen — but their number is growing.

He refers to improv as a technology for human connection and communication.

And Janna Graf, Shaw’s mom, says she has seen how it has helped her son.

She says he can ramble, but recently she saw him introduce himself at a church group: “He said, ‘My name’s Shaw; I’m 8-years-old,’ and then he actually took his hands and waved it to the next person,” Graf says. “He’s learning to wait.”

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5. A UFO Abduction on the Streets of Dresden by OakOak

Speaking of improv, I LOVE OakOak’s art, and I share it often in my improv workshops–it’s a great example of taking something mundane or even ugly and “Yes-anding” it. Here is one of his latest:

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6. How Much Do Cats Actually Kill? by The Oatmeal

We like to call Baxter and Rey “God’s Perfect Killing Machines.” Of course our cats are inside cats, so the most they’re killing are catnip toys, dustbunnies and laser pointers. But I maintain that you can tell if someone’s a cat person based on whether they see this quality as a feature or a bug:

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7. Alan H. Green sings “Nobody’s Listening.” 

I’m sinfully proud of my friend Alan Green, Broadway actor. (We were in a show together in college and he graciously calls me his “first leading lady,” but we all pretty much basked in his incredible talent.) Here he is singing a song from a show amusingly called “How to Steal an Election.” Start around 3:00 to get right to the song.

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8. Cookies! I continue to bake my way through Dorie Greenspan’s Cookies cookbook, which is delicious fun. But I’m also keeping track of what I bake each week and for whom–which has been a great way of marking the weeks of this year. Our latest was Two Bite One Chip Cookies, which are fun to make with kids.

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9. Building a Park: Tons of us love Humans of New York on Facebook and Instagram. This one from Brazil touched me especially.

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10. Superheroes! Japanese photographer Hotkenobi has put together some whimsical shots using action figures. Many more at the link, but here’s my favorite:

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Ten for Tuesday: Pure Unbridled Joy and Hope

I hope I’m not overpromising here. But I think there’s especially good stuff this week.

1. Jake Gyllenhaal sings “Finishing the Hat,” and does it well. (Hat tip to Michael Kirby, my source for all things musical.)

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2. ‘I know they are going to die.’ This foster father takes in only terminally ill children

Radiant. Excruciating.

“The key is, you have to love them like your own,” Bzeek said recently. “I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”

The man is a Libyan-born Muslim man, by the way.

This is Islam.

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3. Photos of Waves Crashing in Australia, by Warren Keelan and featured on Colossal.

It’s a beautiful world:

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Many more at the link.

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4. Mari Andrew’s Instagram feed is full of drawings conveying simple wisdom. Her recent rendering of grief is right on:

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5. This Dictionary Keeps Subtweeting Trump and Here’s the Full Story. This is about way more than the Trump administration’s creative (some would say sinister) use of language, and how Merriam-Webster is handling it. It’s about creating a social media presence that’s sharp and authentic. The descriptivist stuff at the end is interesting too.

As anyone who studied linguistics in college may remember, most modern dictionaries embrace what is known as a descriptivist view of language. Rather than insisting on the so-called proper usage of a word or phrase (an approach known as prescriptivism), today most lexicographers (i.e., people who work at dictionaries) study the way words are actually being used and make note accordingly. That’s how you end up with, for example, dictionary entries for “they” in the third-person singular form or “heart” as a verb.

Inherent in this descriptivist approach, then, is the notion that a dictionary is a rather passive creature, monitoring the public conversation but not injecting itself into it.

That, of course, is being somewhat challenged by Merriam-Webster having a Twitter account with such a forceful public voice.

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6. Mary Oliver reads “Wild Geese.” (h/t Brain Pickings)

Make this poem your mission statement. My personal one is The Journey, but this one’s a close second.

“You do not have to be good…”

7. A Longtime Fitness Editor Does Some Soul Searching (h/t my friend Alison)

Our culture is drowning in listicles and fad approaches to nutrition. The truth is, we know what constitutes a healthy life, and the rest is commentary (and maybe even clickbaity propaganda).

In an email, Michael Joyner, a physiologist at the Mayo Clinic, told me that we overcomplicate everything when it comes to health. He then pointed me to an obituary in the New York Times of Lester Breslow, a researcher who, the Times reported, “gave mathematical proof to the notion that people can live longer and healthier by changing habits like smoking, diet and sleep.” Breslow identified seven key factors to living a healthy life:

Do not smoke; drink in moderation; sleep seven to eight hours; exercise at least moderately; eat regular meals; maintain a moderate weight; eat breakfast.

The rest is commentary.

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8. Book Pairings for Every Flavor of Ben and Jerry’s I’ve Ever Eaten, by Tracy Shapley on Book Riot.

Yes, I just posted a link about fitness like three seconds ago. But there’s physical health and there’s spiritual health.

I love that the list is presented without commentary, prompting me to make the connections myself.

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9. How Black Books Lit My Way Along the Appalachian Trail, by Rahawa Haile.

I’m still making my way through this beautifully-written essay about books, blackness, femaleness, and hiking. But I feel confident recommending it because it was recommended by Linda Holmes on Pop Culture Happy Hour and she’s never steered me wrong.

For many, the Appalachian Trail is a footpath of numbers. There are miles to Maine. The daily chance of precipitation. Distance to the next campsite with a reliable water source. Here, people cut the handles off of toothbrushes to save grams. Eat cold meals in the summer months to shave weight by going stoveless. They whittle medicine kits down to bottles of ibuprofen. Carry two pairs of socks. One pair of underwear.

…Few nonessentials are carried on this trail, and when they are — an enormous childhood teddy bear, a father’s bulky camera — it means one thing: The weight of this item is worth considerably more than the weight of its absence.

Everyone had something out here. The love I carried was books. Exceptional books. Books by black authors, their photos often the only black faces I would talk to for weeks. These were writers who had endured more than I’d ever been asked to, whose strength gave me strength in turn.

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10. “Let America Be America Again,” by Langston Hughes. 

Behold, the only version of #MAGA I’m on board with. Excerpt:

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

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Hughes gets the last word this week.