Thou Churlish Onion-Eyed Malt-Worm ...

The next time you find yourself in a smack-down of Shakespearean proportions, you may want to consult the Shakespeare Insult Kit. I promise you will find this resource inexhaustibly valuable. To my friend Roy, who directed me to it ... I can no other answer make, but thanks/ And thanks, and ever thanks.

I would blog something here about the way even a glance at Shakespearean vernacular highlights the diminished state of the English language in the 21st century, but I'd sound like a gleeking flat-mouthed clack-dish. And really, who wants that?

McCain: The Purple Conservative?

Will Republicans really nominate the maverick candidate John McCain for president?  What a surprising choice in an unpredictable year!   Just a few months ago, McCain’s campaign was suffering a cash shortage and a crisis of confidence.   His candidacy appeared over before the primaries began.  But with more voters interested in independent-minded politicians, McCain became the closest choice to “other”.

McCain has often bucked the traditional Republican party leadership.  In the Senate, he crossed party lines, working with Democrat Russ Feingold to champion campaign finance reform.  In representing Arizona, McCain sensitivity’s to border issues and immigration reform puts him at odds with most Republicans.   He has also taken heat from conservative for sponsoring gun-control legislation.

Strengthen Your Brothers

A year ago, if you were to ask me what I’d be doing right now, I wouldn’t have believed you. I couldn’t have foreseen it in my boldest dreams.  If I shut my eyes and you were to tell me, I could not have possibly imagined what I would be feeling, experiencing, or doing.  
 
I have never had a heart for people beyond our borders.  I’ve always felt a calling into ministry – however much I repressed it or kept it hidden away in a shoebox in my mind - but I’ve always felt called to work among the American church.  Perhaps its because I was one for the majority of the time I’ve been a Christian, but I've always felt that there were enough lukewarm Christians in our churches that needed to be woken up and corrected.  

Aside from feeling that I communicated best within our culture, I think my main reason was that I thought that if we could transform the American church and harness and direct it we could do great things not only on our own soil but in lands whose pain and suffering we romanticize about alleviating before we’re truly exposed to it.  I looked at America as the home base, a corporation, a bank, a secondary end and primary means.  I thought that if we could change it and organize it, we could implement change like a battle plan drawn up in bustling, dark rooms on glass maps with thick dry-erase markers.  
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So Very Lost

I didn’t watch Lost on Thursday night.

Now, I’m a huge fan of the show–have been since the moment Jack opened his eyes on that creepy, crazy tropical island. And I was beyond happy that 8 new episodes were in the can before the writers’ strike. But I didn’t watch it on Thursday because I was on a business trip and didn’t make it to a television in time. Sad, sad day.

I know–watching a tv show when it’s actually broadcast is so passe. With DVRs, downloads, and online viewing options, the number of people actually watching a show during its scheduled time slot on its scheduled day is diminishing. But in the same way that I’m a Luddite about some things, I’m a traditionalist about others–I like to watch a show when it’s broadcast. I really like the idea that I’m watching something at the same time millions of others are watching it. I like walking into work the next morning and saying to fellow fans, "Oh my gosh! Can you believe what happened...?" That perks me up more than a cup of coffee ever could.

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Oprah Speaks and America Reads

So Oprah, America's pastor, has selected the next book for her book club: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. Saying she is "over the moon excited" about the book, Oprah describes A New Earth as an extenson of her life's mission, "to lead people to their higher selves." To make sure she actually does lead (evidently it's not enough just to watch her on television), Oprah has announced that the book will be the subject of her "first worldwide interactive class," a free ten-week course she will co-teach with Tolle on Oprah.com live Mondays at 9 pm EST beginning March 3.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Hey, this isn't The Good Earth by Pearl Buck (a past selection). This is A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. If you haven't heard of this German spiritual teacher, now's the time to do a little research. You can start by nosing around Tolle's website, which will enlighten you to his spiritual journey and teachings. Here's just a sampling of what you'll find. These are actual quotes posted on the site. They pretty much speak for themselves:

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When Preachers become Predators

When Father Joe’s world fell apart, he was 35 years old. He had served at St. Ambrose for five years and had come to love its people. He was thinking about that very thing on that sunny spring day he first violated his vows and began his journey of deceit.  

      Billy was thirteen. He had had been a prize pupil in Father Joe’s catechism class the year before. Since then, he had been coming early for mass and to help his pastor prepare for the service. He had even begun to wonder if God might be calling him into holy orders.  

      The boy was unprepared for what happened that morning and, I suppose it should be said, so was Father Joe. Billy had helped lay out the vestments – the season called for purple -- and was about to leave the room where Father Joe was vesting. Then, as he was about to open the door, Billy turned and bumped into Father Joe, who had turned to pick up a church bulletin from the floor. As they looked at one another in amused surprise, the priest suddenly grabbed Billy’s face, kissed him and pushed his tongue between Billy’s lips.  

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Poetry Friday #4: Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda is among the most celebrated of twentieth-century poets, and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Though he was a controversial character during his lifetime, due to his communist political leanings, his most famous poems are about nature, love, and beauty. They've been translated from the Spanish (Neruda was Chilean) several times, in different compilations.

Here's one of the more famous and one of my favorites.

From 100 Love Sonnets
XVII

No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber como, ni cuándo, ni de donde,

te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,

sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.

From Cien Sonetos de amor
XVII

I don ’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,      
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:         
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,  
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries    
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose        
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or   
from where
I love you directly without problems or pride:   
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way
to love,

except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

—Translated and © Mark Eisner 2004, from City Lights' The Essential Neruda
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New Literary Program to Make Its Home Online

The New York Times is reporting that Daniel Menaker, former executive editor-in-chief at Random House and a former fiction editor at the New Yorker, will be launching a new online literary show called “Titlepage” on March 3.

I’m inordinately excited.

According to the article:
“Titlepage” will combine elements of “Apostrophes,” a popular French literary program; “The Charlie Rose Show” on public television; and “Dinner for Five,” in which a group of actors discussed their craft, on the Independent Film Channel.

Early guests will include Richard Price, Susan Choi, and newcomer Charles Bock.  
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January Reviews

Cassandra’s Dream, Woody Allen’s third film shot during his extended stay in England, is a noose-tightening thriller of concentrated power. One of the few directors in Hollywood still making overtly moral tales, Allen seems obsessively fixated on the workings of chance, fate, and destiny in a world he perceives to be cruel and chaotic. The film feels swift, almost rushed, as though the workaholic Allen were trying to speed through the proceedings so he could move on to the next project. (He averages about one movie per year.) Less of a downer than Match Point, whose fatalistic storyline felt like posturing, the film proves that Allen has the courage to follow his frightened worldview to its logical conclusion. The weight of sin hangs heavily in the air, but this time, he doesn’t let the characters off the hook.
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Tags | Film

PURPLE STATE OF MIND: THE TRAILER




So I will soon be taking my feature documentary, PURPLE STATE OF MIND, on the road. John Marks and I roomed together at Davidson College, twenty five years ago. We've taken our divergent faith journeys as the starting point for a documentary about America, circa 2008. John and I talk about everything friends are supposed to avoid--art, religion, sex and politics. Join us on the road or purchase a preview screener on DVD at: www.purplestateofmind.com

Tags | Film
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