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.”

Neighborly Courtesies in a Wild World

What if we were to extend our notions of neighborhood to the nonhuman natural world? We’re familiar with the courtesies and manners appropriate for our human neighbors (whether or not we accept them). But what about the heron, the salamander, the fox, the speckled trout?

I had a wonderful opportunity to meet and hear Wendell Berry — front row, center, why not? — as this year’s recipient of the Martin Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion. There he posed this question, which resonates like a cello in my soul. Add countless other earth-wise moments of earthy wisdom in that lovely interview with Norman Wirzba, and I had a full-blown orchestra humming.

AWP Surprise Highlight

Stephen Dunn, poet extraordinaire. Among my favorites, a riff on the Leviticus scapegoat. It’s a prose poem in which God sympathizes with the goat and calls this method of atonement yet another human sin. I’d love to write it out for you here but haven’t asked permission. Do check it out yourself (I bought What Goes On, in which it’s featured with other best and selected of Dunn’s poetry). I got to hear SD read twice(!) at the AWP conference this past week, once during a tribute to him (great presentations by all — thanks, Kathleen Graber, for the Deadwood recommendation!) in which I learned that he never ever pointed his shotgun at a student, but he did blast bad poems out of the air over the campus pond. I’m off to practice my shot.

Palm Sunday confusion?

Today, Christians celebrate Palm Sunday — the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to great “Hosanna!” acclaim. But just exactly how did he do it? The stories disagree in a puzzling way… unless you know something about the conventions of biblical Hebrew and that the New Testament writers (Matthew, especially) often looked to the Old Testament, for ways to understand Jesus. 

Old Wine in New Wineskins

Or “old texts in a new medium.”  For a thoughtful blog about ancient Hebrew poetry, with links to some other great resources, too, you may be interested in checking out this one by John Hobbins (just follow the link)!