Poetry Friday: Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman is the quintessential American poet. He's most well-known for his book of poetry, Leaves of Grass.

He also was the impetus for the creation of the park in which I run every morning. Thanks, Walt.

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,

God in a Nashville Bar

It’s Sunday night around 10 pm Nashville time. My work and pent up curiosity have brought me to Nashville, Tennessee for the GMA (Gospel Music Association) Conference. What began years ago as a giant celebration of Christians in the music industry has now become a spectacle of all things Christian-Culture. Today alone I’ve witnessed everything from godPods and godtube, to Convert tennis shoes and yes…even Christian water. I’ve heard song after song sung from Christian songwriters: some famous, some not, and some who aren’t but think they are.

In a moment of pure jet-lag induced exhaustion, I turned around from the acoustic showcase I was supposed to attend, out the hotel doors, and began walking into the brisk, southern air toward the neon lights of Music City. Following the cadence of about 20 different drum sets down one block to another, I slipped inside a bar where acoustic instruments were exploding with electric energy. My ears perked to the sound of dueling fiddles clashing against the rhythms of a double bass as the smell of alcohol and smoke filled the room, a room filled with passion and realness…and more cowboy hats than I’m normally used to seeing.
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Tags | Music

The World That Ought to Be

Christy Tennant and Makoto Fujimura continue their conversation about the evolving “third language…” Here, they discuss five specific terms in the third language: rehumanize, creative catalyst, generative creativity, the world that ought to be and mediate.

CT: Let’s talk about the language itself. One of my favorite words in the third language is “rehumanize.” I find it really insightful that the word “dehumanize” is recognized by SpellCheck, but rehumanize is not. When I type “rehumanize” into Dictionary.com, I am told, “No results found for ‘rehumanize.’” So clearly, this concept is not common. How would you define “rehumanize?”

MF: “Re-humanize,” which I took from Jane Eyre, is, to me, rooted in the biblical theology of shalom found in Isaiah 61, which is also what Jesus quoted when began his public ministry. This passage is God’s re-humanizing vision for the world. It’s also in Romans 8. Creation itself is waiting for the re-humanization of humanity. God has frustrated creation so that it won’t be satisfied until humanity has been restored. I love the way Hans Rookmaaker put it – “Christ did not come to make us Christians; He came to make us fully human.”
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Why My Family Switched to Apple: Five Reasons

My family home schools. That means computers are necessary and everyone in the family has their own. I have been running a home network of seven computers for the last five years. It has been a nightmare job.

One day I noticed that my personal Mac was never causing me troubles. It was older and slow, but always doing its job. Once a hard drive crashed, but I had backups (which are easy to do) and after an evening of work was back in business.

Vista (outside of the marvelous media center application) has been horrid. Only an eight year old computer in the network (now too slow for most functions) did not constantly blue screen or cause other problems. XP by the end was marginally better, but looked like a Mac from a decade ago and was horrible at networking.

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Poetry Friday: Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson - many an American schoolchild's first introduction to poetry. She wrote highly accessible, whimsically capitalized, incisive, rhyming poetry during the mid 1800s, even though she lived a mostly secluded life.

This one was part of the New York City MTA's "Poetry in Motion" project. I read it while riding to work one morning and thought how many storytellers - especially Christians - could benefit from its exhortation.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually

Danny Federici and the E Street Band

Bruce Springsteen’s sound cannot be separated from the E Street Band, especially the evocative keyboards of Danny Federici. I have so many vivid memories of Springsteen shows--from the Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina (1981!) to The Greek Theater for “The Seeger Sessions.” Last year, I had the privilege of catching Springsteen’s “Magic” reunion tour with the E Street Band at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Danny was in the house, commanding the keyboards. So the passing of Federici from skin cancer deserves a serious moment of silence and respect.

Although he created several solo works, Federici’s most distinguished recording remains “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).”  His accordian playing immediately snaps me back to the New Jersey boardwalk and an ocean breeze. Tonight, I play “Sandy” for Danny. As Springsteen sings–

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Tags | Music

C.S. Lewis: Five Books that Changed My Life

Of the Inklings, C.S. Lewis has had the greatest impact on generations of Christian scholars. Inside of the Torrey leadership, I would guess he is the author with the greatest shared impact on all of us.

He certainly changed my life. I am a Christian in great part because of the role his works had in shaping my imagination. I am the kind of Christian I am, because Lewis wrote and lived as he did.

There is no moment I can remember when Lewis has not been one of my primary literary guides. As a child my basement room had a map of Narnia carefully rolled out on a table in the middle of my work space. My first club formed with my brother and a dear cousin attempted a unification of Narnia with all our other favorite writers. We played at Narnia . . . hard enough to scar ourselves with metal swords carefully constructed out of scrap metal.

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Poetry Friday: Billy Collins

Today's poet is Billy Collins, New York City native, U.S. Poet Laureate since 2001 (aren't you glad, in spite of our country's general disregard for the arts in general and poetry in particular, that we have a poet laureate?), and recipient of most of the prestigious fellowships and awards that you can earn as a living American poet. Collins' poetry is simultaneously accessible and profound.

He has a website called Action Poetry, a collection of short films of his poetry, which I highly recommend - especially if you don't "like" or "get" poetry. The poem below is included on the website.

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BANG A DRUM for THE VISITOR

People always ask me, "Why does Hollywood turn out so many loud, abrasive, empty-headed movies?"  Do movies have to insult our intelligence?   Can't we find something life-affirming instead of soul-draining?    The studios suggest that they simply supply what audiences want.  If we supported smaller, independent films loaded with heart, we'd get more of them.   Here comes another golden opportunity.

The most timely and relevant film at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival was THE VISITOR.  It is smart, subtle and filled with sneaky humor.  It puts a human face on the immigration issue and causes us to consider the cost of our post 9/11 policies. The timeless biblical question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" emerges from the movie.   The performances are spot on, brimming with nuance and intelligence. Basically, The Visitor is a brilliant independent film that will likely by overlooked until Oscar time. You can read my complete review here.
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Tags | Film

The Search for Online Truth

If there's one constant about technology that trumps all others, it's this: change. We can be sure that whatever technology is cool and useful and popular today will be replaced by something that's cooler, more useful, and more popular tomorrow. It's just the way it is.

With truth it's different. Unless you're a relativist, truth doesn't change. We need to know that what's true today will still be true tomorrow. We also need to know that the content we access, whether it's on a printed page or in some kind of electronic form, is trustworthy.

At ConversantLife.com, we are committed to both technology and truth. We are using the latest technology to present trustworthy content by a team of passionate and knowledgeable communicators, all the while inviting our users to comment and post content of their own in the form of news stories that have faith implications.

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