Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I will not rest until this place is full of sunlight

First off: I wrote something here

Second: If you're coming over from the Slacktiverse site, feel free to poke around!

I've also written about Camden here and here. My friend Andrea, who runs the Camden Center for Transformation, blogs here. My friends Chris and Cassie also have blogs.

Friday, April 22, 2011

pointing to the agony of death and birth

Because every day needs a little poetry, and no less Good Friday:

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

    Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

    The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

    The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

    The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

-T.S. Eliot, "East Coker" IV

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reading List, redux

A long while back, I posted a reading list. I just went and looked at it again, and I realized that I've gotten distracted from the original list. Here's the new one.
If you have any suggestions for my 2011 list, let me know. I like new books a lot.

The Waves, Virginia Woolf  - finished
Kindred, Octavia Butler - finished
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison - finished
What are People For? Wendell Berry - have read bits and pieces (it's a book of essays)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin - finished
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon - finished
The Salt Eaters, Toni Cade Bambara - um, started but then stopped. I'm not sure why I stopped.
My Invented Country, Isabelle Allende
The Cure at Troy, Seamus Heaney
Catch-22, Joseph Heller - finished
Under the Net, Iris Murdoch - finished
The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
That Noble Dream, Peter Novick
Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond
Looting Africa, Patrick Bond
Chasing Shadows, Lucrecia Guerrero
The Rain God, Arturo Islas
George Washington Gomez, Americo Paredes
The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco
Wild Seed, Octavia Butler
Contending Forces, Pauline Hopkins - finished
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel - finished
If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino - finished
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson - finished
No One Belongs Here More Than You, Miranda July - finished
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark - finished
Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee - finished
A Mercy, Toni Morrison - finished 
A Disobedient Girl, Ru Freeman - finished
The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri  - finished
Burger's Daughter, Nadine Gordimer -finished
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides - finished
Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose - reading now

I know there's been more, but I can't quite remember at the moment.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A bit of nostalgia for Survey of English Lit

Ever wake up with lines of poetry running through your head? That was me the other day. Funny thing was, I hadn't read this poem since college. Of course, it's a poem every good student of English knows. If you don't know it, feel free to enjoy for the first time...

Dover Beach
Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Agaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

...And its parody, The Dover Bitch.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

what I think about when I think about faith, part 2


After spending 12 years in public school, I decided that I wanted something different. When I started researching schools, I focused mainly on Christian colleges.

I ended up going to Eastern University for a few reasons. The first was practical: I got a full-tuition scholarship from them. I also got into their honors college, which was, in part, a Great Books program. Plus, every other Christian college I visited had some sort of chapel requirement, as in "you must go to chapel x many times per semester." Eastern doesn't have that; whether you go to chapel or to any other group is entirely voluntary.

And then there were the other reasons. Eastern has a reputation for turning out alumni who tend to be on the...I guess you'd call them the radical side. I actually had friends whose churches warned them against coming to Eastern, because it was too "liberal" (I snicker at this now). When I started college in 2002, Tony Campolo was probably the school's most famous alumnus/professor. In any case, they have a focus on social justice and social action, which is what I wanted.

In general, college was tumultuous for me. But, besides that, it shaped me in important ways; I think it would be safe to say that I'd be in a very different place now if I hadn't gone to Eastern.