Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Simply Tuesday

Lou Reed once observed of Laurie Anderson that, in a better age, people would be building statues in her honor. This marked one of those rare instances in which, it seemed to me, I knew exactly how Brother Lou felt.
The above recording is just about twenty years old, and it represents a time when Sarah was entering what Joni Mitchell refers to as the star-maker machinery behind the popular songs. She didn't stay there for long, but we still run into people who've paid her heed over the years and said so. One such person is Emily P. Freeman whose blog Chatting At the Sky is drawn from Sarah's song "Tuesday." Today marks the release of her latest, Simply Tuesday, and it seemed fitting to celebrate it accordingly.
Sarah, in the meantime, is still at it with all manner of work that affords delight--much of it completely free--yonder over here. Feel free to take a gander.
And deep thanks, Emily, for noticing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

We Built This City On Rock and Roll

Dear Everyone.
This is a meandering word, a whisper campaign, and a hodge-podge of announcements intended to catch up all interested parties in various goings-on especially if you're one for whom Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are forms of Antichrist.
To begin, I have a new book set to appear early next year. You're looking at the cover. As was the case with the previous three, it's possible that it might rearrange the mental furniture of many a reader. I'm hoping it will.
Dorothy and I also journeyed to Bonnaroo together and chronicled the experience. Our witness can be received here. This particular piece can be meaningfully read alongside my thoughts on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly and a Tom Waits' song on Father's Day.
While I have your attention, I invite you to take in this meditation which includes one of my most treasured stories and a recent attempt to bring Martin Luther King Jr., Peter Case, and Doctor Stephen Strange into conversation with one another.
And...I believe that's it for now.
Thank you for your time and attention.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Reality Scarecrows

Take stock of those around you and you will hear them talk in precise terms about themselves and their surroundings, which would seem to point to them having ideas on the matter. But start to analyze those ideas and you will find that they hardly reflect in any way the reality to which they appear to refer, and if you go deeper you will discover that there is not even an attempt to adjust the ideas to this reality. Quite the contrary: through these notions the individual is trying to cut off any personal vision of reality, of his own very life. For life is at the start a chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is frightened at finding himself face to face with this terrible reality, and tries to cover it with a certain fantasy, where everything is clear. It does not worry him that his ideas are not true, he uses them as trenches for the defense of his existence, as scarecrows to frighten away reality.

José Ortega Y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Most Biblical Question Ever Posed By Sitting President of These United States

"Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?"
This strikes me as the most righteous (biblical, prophetic, Jewish, Christian, evangelical, choose your own affirming adjective) question ever posed by a sitting POTUS. I welcome other nominations. Thank you, John Lamb, for calling it to my attention. 

Friday, October 03, 2014

You Can't Step In the Same Art Twice

Like a wise child whose imagination has somehow survived the pressure of popular conceptions of adulthood, Andy Harding is one of those rare people who's uniquely committed to devoting his adult energy to art, to feeling fascinated and doing something about it. What's more, he knows how to talk about what he's up to, how to invite people in, and how to keep us laughing even as we try to see the world more truly and soberly and beautifully, which is to say, artfully. He's at it this weekend at the Tinney, and you'll be degrading your own genius if you can go but don't. Here's the word on the amazing man's latest The Cygnus Loop (Cygnus, incidentally, is a northern constellation chilling out along the Milky Way. It's all Latinized Greek for Swan):
Andy Harding's work engages in a dialogue between materials and concepts. His process entails drawing, coloring, cutting, shaping, and layering disparate materials into harmonious compositions to explore the dynamic cycle of order and entropy that bears witness to both the emergence of form and its dissolution in the multifaceted processes that make up the natural world. Harding's finished pieces call to mind scientific diagrams, natural forms, and even abstracted figures in their wriggling, writhing shapes. Living beings, materials, ideas, and forces all occupy distinct positions in the grand web of relations, yet nothing is static. In essence, this work is a reflection or a meditation on both the interrelatedness and the unique singularity of all things.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Celebrating Our John Sharp

Today at Centennial Park, friends and family will gather to celebrate the life, the work, and the world-expanding neighborliness of my cousin, John Sharp. In all that he was up to, John schooled everyone and anyone nearby in the work of being righteous stewards of our own enthusiasms. Whether he was describing food, a sound, Dungeons and Dragons, James Blish, a film, a musician, or a neighborhood, he was always inviting us—challenging us--to love people, pleasure, and place more than we feel we’re allowed to under the tyranny of what’s “normal.” If there arose a convention or custom that stands in the way of someone professing or getting animated about what they’re into, John would calmly destroy it with wit and magnanimity. Even his intellectual analysis—and I can’t think of anyone more positively intellectual than John—was a form of love. A few weeks ago, as he both celebrated and critiqued the things that happen on Facebook, he blurted out a quip that betrayed his effortless range: “I wanted George Jetson and I got George Orwell!” As ever, he was looking hard for anything that might aid or obstruct the work of people being good to each other. And in a whirlwind of curation involving books, music, toys, and ideas, he was hell-bent on keeping the things he loved in circulation AS GIFTS. He knew (and artfully demonstrated) that this is how the work of waking up to ourselves gets done. His life was a feat of attentiveness. May we live up to the gift he insisted on being in all he was up to. Love, prayers, gratefulness, and telepathic good vibrations to Terry Sharp, Judith Sharp, and Sarah Sharp Reynierson. Thank you for showing us what it’s all about, John. We miss you badly.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Infinite Everywhere Alive

Folks who follow these matters have been waiting for Charles Marsh’s Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for a very long time. Way back in the nineties, he spied within Bonhoeffer’s witness a whole new way of conceiving the self: “The new being emerges in and out of togetherness…Jesus Christ as life together activates the living consciousness of the other as neighbor” (Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Promise of Theology). From there, as teacher, memoirist, and historian, Marsh took a long and fruitful detour into America’s Civil Rights era, interviewing, recording oral histories, and chronicling a past that isn’t at all dead in God’s Long Summer, The LastDays: A Son’s Story of Sin and Segregation at the Dawn of a New South, and TheBeloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil RightsMovement to Today. Beloved community, the fact of it, the vision of the thing, and the way it's always before us as a possibility is also named in his notion of LivedTheology, a project he exemplifies and enables and seeks to cultivate in others. It’s a vision of holistic gospel which makes Marsh the kind of person who would see a live connection at work where others see different compartments, issues, isms, and fields of study.

Take for example the spirit that moved community organizer John Perkins to return to live and minister in Mississippi in 1960 even when his brother, a decorated WWII war veteran, had been murdered by a police officer there 13 years before, dying in his arms as his uncle searched in vain for a hospital that would treat African Americans. Where does this spirit connect to the motivations behind Will Campbell’s ministry to imprisoned Klansmen or Bonhoeffer’s decision to return to Nazi Germany? Read Charles Marsh to find out.
I’ll mention too that Marsh is the kind of person who would take the time to introduce Jon Foreman to John Perkins to see what would come of it. What comes of it is this sort of thing.
So….I drop all of this on you to celebrate the arrival of Strange Glory (the title of this post comes from a phrase on pg. 13) AND to notify all Nashvillians that Charles is among us tonight (Thursday 6:30) at Parnassus Books. Come on out and be delighted.