Harriet Tubman, Unlikely Patriot and American Icon

Who’d have thought that words such as “hot” or “trending” would refer to Harriet Tubman? Yet, there they are. Hers may be the face that boots Hamilton from the ten dollar bill, and her words graced Viola Davis’ historic Emmy speech. Friends knowing how my preoccupation with Harriet Tubman led to writing a screenplay Tell Mister Lincoln have been kindly quick to point out that – look! – she’s not so obscure after all. She shouldn’t be. Not now, or ever. Never mind that I’d forgotten about her for decades.

Portrait of abolitionist Harriet Tubman

Portrait of abolitionist Harriet Tubman

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:

Sexy Spring Comes ’round Again, Just Like Back in Biblical Times

A version of this post first appeared in Christian Century‘s “Theolog.”

The Kindness of Strangers,… Friends, and Family

Bible Babel‘s been getting some good love lately. Now a national best-seller, thanks esp to the good folks I saw in MN and wonderful readers at Politics and Prose in DC! Many thanks to Martin Sieff for bringing an open mind and sense of humor to his Washington Times review yesterday. Meanwhile, spring is bustin’ out in Charlottesville, and my Richmond garden promises tulips soon to come,… whether or not I peel the winter’s mulch away. How generous, all ~

Book Talk and Signing Tonight!

Please come to Fountain Books in Richmond’s Shockoe Slip tonight Feb 8 at 6:30 pm for a BIBLE BABEL book talk and signing!

You-Tubing a Bible Babel Interview

A hot summer day, slow river, cooler of bevs, swimsuit, and a few good friends — ingredients for a lazy day of tubing. At least that’s what “tubing” brings to mind around here in Richmond. Drinking, chatting, napping your way through an afternoon on the James in July. In cold weather places, tubing is a winter thing, too. But qualitatively different. You take that great big inner tube like the ones that go inside semi-truck tires, hike it up an icy hill, climb inside, and with a push, commit yourself to fate. Bouncing, whooshing, and careening down the hill, tubing inevitably sends someone to the hospital. The responses I’ve received from posting my interview with Virginia Currents host May-Lily Lee to Youtube some time ago have been a little like winter tubing. Most were really fun responses and exchanges with people interested in the stuff of Bible Babel, but there was also a great krr-smash(!) — inevitable, I suppose, when dealing with the Bible. In the interview itself, I got a bit brain-and-tongue twisted at one point. Meaning to note how ancient the biblical texts are, but recognizing that they don’t all date to the same ancient period, I fumbled around for “…years ago.” I suspect that was where the trouble started, sort of like hitting a tree root that sent me barrelling against a guy who totally misunderstood me. The especially bonkers part of it is that he was furious with me for exactly the opposite of what I think or do. He thought that I was taking particular biblical texts and plopping them down in our time and place as immediately applicable, with no appreciation for their ancient historical or literary context… oh, and that I think I have all the answers. If only I did! But I know that I don’t. Besides, I love the questions, the conversation and multi-faceted interpretations. That’s where it’s at. And when it comes to talking about the Bible, there’s no clean slate. Everyone’s got a “take” of some sort on it, so we trudge our tubes back up the hill for another wild ride.