Tag Archives: poetry

‘Our Ugly Failure to Evolve’ — On the Mystery of the Incarnation, after Newtown

160229699212188623“On the Mystery of the Incarnation”

It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.

-Denise Levertov (h/t Andrew Foster Connors)

Image source

Friday Link Love

Away we go:

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Winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest — The Atlantic

My favorite:

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New Orleans Pastor Known as ‘Da Condom Father’ Couldn’t Just Watch People Die — Nola.com

According to the article, black people are 32 percent of the Louisiana population but, according to the state Department of Health and Human Hospitals, account for 73 percent of the newest HIV cases and 76 percent of the cases that progressed to AIDS. So this pastor hands out condoms to his parishioners and community. For him the ethics is clear:

Is such the Lord’s work? Davenport is convinced it is. What is he supposed to do? Stand back and see his people die ? Preach to them about sexual purity — then stand back and see his people die?

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Julia Child Visits Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood — The Fred Rogers Company

A video from the archives, in honor of that wonderful dame’s 100th birthday:


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The ‘Open’ Office is a Source of Stress — Time

The modern open office was designed for team building and camaraderie but is mostly distinguished by its high noise levels, lack of privacy and surfeit of both digital and human distractions. And indeed, several decades of research have confirmed that open-plan offices are generally associated with greater employee stress, poorer co-worker relations and reduced satisfaction with the physical environment.

Do you work in an open office environment? What do you think of it, dear readers?

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War Some of the Time — Writers Almanac

A great one from Bukowski:

when you write a poem it
needn’t be intense
it
can be nice and
easy
and you shouldn’t necessarily
be
concerned only with things like anger or
love or need;
at any moment the
greatest accomplishment might be to simply
get
up and tap the handle
on that leaking toilet;

More at the link.

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Why Be Grateful? — Jana Riess

There’s actual science between the practice of gratitude:

In one experiment, students were given different topics on which they had to write a paper. Some students were then given scathing criticism of their papers, while others were praised lavishly.

Then all the students were given the opportunity to go up against their teachers/ graders in a computer game. Not surprisingly, the students who had been sharply criticized retaliated in kind during the game, blasting the heck out of the perpetrators who had made their lives miserable. The ones who had been praised were not aggressive in the game.

And then things got really interesting. There was one exception to the rule about students who had been criticized turning around and retaliating.  This was a small group of the mocked students who had been assigned in their papers to enumerate the things they were grateful for in their lives.

Here’s the thing: those students who had written about gratitude didn’t react negatively to the criticism they received on their papers. They did not retaliate in the computer game.

Apparently, the simple act of counting their blessings had given them enough positive reinforcement about their lives that any criticism of their papers just rolled right off them.

I’ve been working on gratitude this week. It’s been hard. I am very concerned for a family in our church whose little boy is battling ALD and he continues to struggle. I feel very weighed down on their behalf. But I’m trying.

Videos like this help:

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My Own Rice — Church World Service

I love Church World Service. They are a modest organization but very effective, with low overhead. Remember that old Cadillac slogan, “quietly doing things very well”? That’s CWS.

Here’s a story of a young boy in Myanmar who was one of two survivors of a flood in his village. He received a micro-loan and is now growing his own rice.

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Peace be with you, friends.

Bonus Mid-Week Link Love

Friends, thank you so much for your support for my book. I cherish your can-do attitude and your willingness to write reviews, make connections, suggest it to your friends… and pre-order.

One thing I forgot to mention—there will be a discussion guide for groups, Sunday School classes, etc. Stay tuned!

Last night I finally finished an article for the Journal for Preachers that was due a week ago, and I’m wiped. Meanwhile, I’ve found a lot of candidates for Link Love this week. So here’s a little bonus, one silly, one sublime.

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The Anthem Olympics — Grantland

A “competition” between the different national anthems. A fun sendup of NBC’s Olympics coverage. Regarding the United States anthem:

We can only admire the wisdom of the American people for selecting as their anthem a song that directly confronts the single most painful moment from their history: The time when Francis Scott Key didn’t know who had won the battle for Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The chord progression might be stodgy, the melody might be hard to sing, but the words — words about not being able to see very well when peering over the side of an 18th-century sailing ship — remain as true today as they were the day they were written.

Bob Costas’s Take: ”Here’s an amusing story: It’s being said that many members of Team USA didn’t like the food in the Olympic Village … and then they realized there was a McDonald’s right there. Pepper?”

Pepper Bohannan’s Take: ”You know, Bob, the U.S. doesn’t have a reputation as an anthem country. It was a surprise to many people that they made the medal round at all. Up next, we’ll talk about this perception with each American anthemer individually for 20 minutes.”

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The Real Work — Wendell Berry

Perhaps you saw this one too from the Writers Almanac:

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Spectacular.

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Image: Gold medalist in judo Kayla Harrison of the United States reacts as the national anthem is played.

Back from the Conference

Someday I Will Forget These Things

There was the quote
I had to scribble down,
quickly, the pen faltering like a toddler’s dragging-mad footsteps.

And the wisdom,
shared in a tumble of tweets,
a paper chain across the universe.

And the poem that exploded the room,
or made the air leak out in a sigh.

There was the certain conviction that words matter.

And there were hands to receive, and offers of help.
There were people
who saw the door open a crack,
who pushed it wide
to allow others through.

And there was the tree dusted with purple
and a yellow hydrant kneeling underneath.
I could not bear to take its picture.

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(Door image came from Sue Baller-Shepard, a new friend.
Check out her wonderful Spiritual Book Club site.)   

Friday Link Love

The First Supper by Jane Evershed

Perhaps the World Ends Here — Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

Susan Olson recently linked to this poem and it’s been echoing in my mind. Reminds me of Bruce Cockburn’s song “Last Night of the World”:

If this were the last night of the world
What would I do?
What would I do that was different
Unless it was champagne with you?

I’m thankful that our family is in a season in which all five of us eat together at least six nights a week.

It will not always be thus.

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The Most Astounding Fact — Neil deGrasse Tyson

This has been making the rounds, but if you haven’t seen it:

Bonus link: Listen to physicist James Gates’s interview on On Being. I didn’t understand a lot of it. But I liked it nonetheless.

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The Six Secrets the Girl Scouts Have Kept for a Century — WSJ

How is this single-sex organization based on principles begun before the first World War able to remain vital in the twenty first century? How much of it would Juliette Gordon Low recognize? What are the secrets to the continued success of Girl Scouting?

One thing that was not mentioned in the article is that the uniform is updated regularly. I’m not kidding. That seems very superficial but it is a huge symbolic statement that the Girl Scouts are not stuck in the past.

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Do As Franzen Does. Do What You Like — Roxane Gay

Alas, there’s been yet another installment of Famous Author Disparaging Social Media. I love this response:

Is anyone really using Twitter to craft complex rhetorical arguments? What does responsibility have to do with chattering online? It’s like Franzen is saying, “I cannot swim in my car and therefore my car is not useful.” He doesn’t understand what Twitter is for. Of course he dislikes it. He’s working from a place of profound ignorance. His stance is one of those things where you have to say, “There, there, Mr. Franzen, here is your Ovaltine.”

Heh.

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And lastly, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, my friend Stacey posted this recipe to Facebook earlier this week:

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

I’m still not eating dessert during Lent, but o frabjous day, every Sunday is a mini-Easter! And Oh Em Gee:

These cupcakes consist of a Guinness-chocolate cake base, which has a wonderful depth of flavor and is also supremely moist. The centers of the cupcakes are cut out and filled with a chocolate ganache that has been spiked with Irish whiskey. And to top it all off, the frosting is my favorite vanilla buttercream that has been doused with a serious amount of Baileys Irish Cream.

I’m eatin’ that.

May you too have a delicious weekend.