To Work with Heart

quote Marc-Chagall_I-And-The-Village_HD_768x432-16x9May the work of this day bear the print of your heart. Ah, Marc Chagall, thank you for this and for so many wonderful paintings! Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised to find Gibran’s The Prophet illustrated by Chagall, as it was Khalil Gibran who said, “Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”

Friends, Partners, and the Creative Life

What is it about an other that can be so… well, whatever you wouldn’t come up with yourself? When it comes to creativity — making something new whether on canvas, with sound, in writing, or out of clay – most people work alone. It’s a solitary life, the way of an artist, isn’t it?superhero partnerships-istock-000016837868 Then again, maybe not.

When I read Joshua Wolf Shenk’s Atlantic piece about the creative collaboration of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, I admit feeling a mix of envy, nostalgia, and gratitude. What a partnership those guys had! But it’s not easy to come by. Psychologist Susan K. Perry parses the ingredients. Others like Bob Kodzis, who observes the power of difference as well as basic trust, weigh in on how.

Health Care and the Creative Life

Just thinking: Obamacare may well raise America’s creative capital — from the arts to invention, entrepreneurs to public intellectuals.

I’m hearing a lot these days in reaction to a CBO study showing that one effect of national health care is that fewer people will work full-time. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say that they feel hobbled, tied to a job they dislike or even hate because “at least it gives me and family health care.” It’s no surprise to me, then, that without having to worry about signing on with a huge business in order to get affordable health care some people will elect to leave such jobs.

A Babylonian New Year

And so we’re off! — 2014, a new year, ready or not. Resolutions or not, there’s something about recognizing the end of a year and the beginning of a new one that’s downright refreshing.

The earliest public celebrations that we know about are Babylonian, dating back thousands of years. I’ve been spending a lot of time in ancient Babylon (in my head) these past few years, and it occurs to me that for all our distance from an Iraq of the B.C. years, we share some things in common. Take New Year’s. Sure, there are loads of differences. For one thing, the Akitu New Year festival happened around the time of the spring equinox and went on for days. But at its heart was this sense of putting aside the old and beginning anew with hope and possibility.Marduk

Jazz Riff on Genesis 1

It was a great honor to be invited to give the Dillard series of lectures at Trinity United Methodist Church this year. Wow, what a turn-out! and what wonderfully warm, hospitable, and thoughtful folks I met there, people deeply invested in the pursuit of understanding, committed as much to the humbling business of query and investigation as to a rich faith.

My part was a small one — to deliver four lectures on the general topic “The Power of Story and the Greatest Ever Told.” By way of beginning and end, I offered this wee meditation:

New Year’s Lament

It’s not worth listing why I can’t complain. I can’t (complain; or make lists, for that matter). Yet, while everyone else seems to be embracing the new year with the energy of clear purpose and PowerPoint-able goals, I’m having drinks with Lord Languor and Princess Peevish. I know it’s time to sober up and show them the door; but alas, I’m weak. (Jan. 2).

Toward the end of the last year, which I will nostalgically refer to as 2012, I was humming along. Finished a rough draft of Novel #1, and,… Ok, that’s about it. But then, like some backcountry alpine skier, who snags an errant boulder, I flipped. Now I’m filing my nails, reordering the cupboards, and walking in circles. Literally. (Jan. 3).

Biblical Imagination and the Creative Process

If most people don’t get the biblical references, why do the creators of popular tv, movies, music and lit still use them so much? Pondering this question over iced tea with a novelist, Ph.D.-candidate friend, we decided: it’s tough to say. Here are a couple of ideas that we bounced around:

1) Audiences do recognize the biblical language, themes or characters and that’s enough because the Bible continues to resonate or at least suggest something greater than what immediatley meets the eye.