I love etymology. Tracing a word back to its earliest known origins makes a writer feel like an archaeologist, anthropologist, and genealogist. Etymology can help recover the ideas and shades of meaning that have been obscured by the sediment of centuries. Breaking a word into its component parts often releases a tremendous amount of latent energy. What’s interesting is that I now I live in a house where sign language is often used. I’ve learned that the sign for “orange” looks a lot like someone making homemade orange juice. The signs for “king” and “queen” involve tracing the line of a sash across your torso. And the sign for “shower” looks like someone standing under a shower head. Sign language often seems to be rooted in the material world, which strikes me as a kind of etymology. I find it endlessly fascinating and hope to learn more.… Read the rest
Here it is! The cover design for the “Slow Church” book, coming Spring 2014. Chris and I think the design team at IVP/Praxis nailed it! We couldn’t be more pleased.… Read the rest
I made this image today on a lark. What the pencils say, and their inspiration:
1. This Machine Kills Fascism – Woody Guthrie’s guitar
2. This Machine Surrounds Hate & Forces It To Surrender – Pete Seeger’s banjo
3. Practice Resurrection – Wendell Berry’s “Mad Farmer Liberation Front” poem
4. Lose Your Mind – Same as above
5. All Will Be Well – Mumford & Sons / Julian of Norwich
6. A Sign To Mark The False Trail – “Mad Farmer” poem again
7. Hootenanny – Because I want to have one… Read the rest
[Author’s Note: A couple years ago I was asked to contribute to an article for Relevant Magazine about “five things we wish our pastors knew.” Other contributors included Anne Marie Miller, Enuma Okoro, Matthew Paul Turner, and Jason Boyett. I wrote my piece as a kind of open letter to our church’s new pastor. I’m reposting it here because it was written during, and inspired by, Holy Week.]
Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday represent the hinge of human history. We celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday because they make everything else possible. But I think it’s a mistake to miss Holy Saturday altogether. Since sentences are my stock-in-trade, I sometimes think of Good Friday as an exclamation point (full-stop), Easter Sunday as a colon (momentum) and Holy Saturday as the important ellipsis between them. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are dramatic answers; Holy Saturday is about as-yet-unanswered questions. This is why I relate so much to Holy Saturday. It’s also the reason I’m writing to you: because I think you should know I’m living with more questions than answers.
I bring this up because I don’t want you to assume—and I doubt you do—that everyone in the congregation is in the same theological place.… Read the rest
Kate snapped this photo on the way into town. Grammar nerds unite!… Read the rest
Note: Over the next few days, I’m going to start posting some of my old poems here, part of a larger project to gather all my writing in one place. Here is the first poem.
Dominant Male, requires adoring and
obedient submissive for strict discipline
and body worship.
Vintage-model SWM, 50, looking for
experienced driver with well-kept garage who
prefers smooth driving for possible long-distance
adventure. I handle mountain roads well and
still have juice in the battery.
Voice Mailbox 50235.
She circles this one with her felt-tip
pen and mumbles a kind of voodoo
mantra, willing the red ink,
this unbroken circle of her own blood, to
keep out the others. She saw him first.
She claims 50235 for herself and they consume
each other with the fierce, impetuous
hunger of books she is too proud to read.
She calls and leaves a message
whispering semi-erotic shop talk
about garages and tools and classic cars and
how she is getting hot. Mmm, so hot.
Now they are zipping through the Sierras in 50235’s
Cadillac – a convertible – his platinum
hair impervious to the wind
and he is so dashing. He smiles
this disarming smile – shockingly white teeth (all real) –
and his bronze skin a leather landscape –
and they listen to good jazz as they drive –
and, god, she is so witty.… Read the rest