Update: Long Division, Vineyard Scholars Conference

Since my last post was almost two months ago, I thought I’d check in with an update:

First, presales for Long Division ended on June 23rd. If you didn’t get a copy but would still like one, you’ll be able to order directly from me or via Amazon and other book retailers when the book is released; the current release date is August 18th. I’ll keep you all posted. Thank you to everyone who helped Long Division meet its goal!

design by Dusty O’Connor

Second, I had an excellent time presenting at the Vineyard Scholars Conference, hosted by Yale in New Haven, CT. The trip was logistically ridiculous – three cities in five days, two of which were us carrying around everything we brought to the East Coast with us around New York in a backpacking backpack, several Airbnbs, Greyhound buses and Subways to get from NYC to New Haven to Boston and back to see family and friends – but it was perhaps my favorite trip that I’ve taken as an adult.

At the conference, there were so many stimulating papers and presentations, it was hard to choose just one per time slot to attend (there were three panels of two or three related presentations each, occurring at the same time, except for the reception the first night, where everyone could go: Miroslav Wolf spoke and then I and another poet got to read). For my seminar, I read from my manuscript, Church in the Decaying Shipyard,which I wrote during my first (and only) year of seminary a few years ago, about the loss of our church community, primarily, but also about other churchy/God/Christian stuff. Each poem was a question and many of them had footnotes; someone who attended my seminar, which also included an amazing dance performance, asked if I’d heard of David Foster Wallace (he’s my favorite writer!) and two of my favorite presenters (one on Christian anarchism and one whose paper was called “Dear God: Will I be Black in Heaven?” chose to attend my seminar!). This is Mark and I exploring Brooklyn the day we flew back to Seattle last Sunday.

Mark and I in Brooklyn last week

We clearly don’t take selfies very often…

We have recordings of my presentation and the feedback portion afterward with the dancer who was paired with me so I’ll update again with where you might be able to see those.

 

 

Culture is like Traffic

I haven’t had a car for over ten years – I gave up my 1986 Volvo when I moved to Seattle and have been reliant on public transit ever since – but even I know how bad traffic has gotten in my city in the last few years. I mostly know because everyone is constantly complaining about it. Public transit is subject to traffic, too, though, so I also experience the rush-hour-levels at 1:30 on Sunday afternoons or at 8 o’clock on a Monday night. I was thinking about this on the ride home recently; it’s actually not that we “experience” traffic, we are traffic. And the same is true for culture.  Continue reading Culture is like Traffic

How to Be Healthy: The New Uncertainty Principle

plastic-spoons-and-forksI’ve been doing a fiendish amount of research into health lately. Many of the people I’ve encountered in the irksomely named health and wellness “space” got there because of a personal health crisis. They had a crash-and-burn-level health problem that forced them to quit their sugar-laden, sleep-deprived ways and start respecting their bodies. I started this journey (another irksome word, sorry!) because I was freaked about getting sick after the second of my two parents was diagnosed with a serious cancer before age 60. And, in the process of discovering some pretty great resources that have been able to answer some of my questions, instead of getting well – or, better than I was, which wasn’t catastrophically ill – I got sick.

Continue reading How to Be Healthy: The New Uncertainty Principle

Anyone Can Be President

sealRecently, a Facebook post has been making the rounds listing some good things that have come out of the Trump administration so far. Things like people getting more involved, people knowing more about Hitler, the Constitution, people different from them, etc., than ever before…Trump’s election proving that “anyone can be president.” I appreciate the attempt here but to me, it feels like meager anesthetization. For one, democracy requires constant, committed work so it’s a little bittersweet for me that people are just now becoming more involved…maybe if they had been all along, we wouldn’t have gotten to this point of utter disaster. Two, I don’t think ignorance of the Holocaust or of the Constitution caused the mess America and consequently the world are in. I think Trump and his appointees are the cause, honestly. And I don’t believe they have no idea what they’re doing. But, the point on this list that worried me the most was that “anyone can be president” was being said as a good thing. Continue reading Anyone Can Be President

“I Love Jesus But I Hate the Church”

handI’m avoiding writing about politics. I’m trying to limit my intake of the news, too, because there’s really no use in “staying informed” if it makes you sick and paralyzed with anxiety. I’m also just tired of the constant shock and awe. Maybe people keep being surprised because the media reported 45 as a serial liar and they’re learning that he intends to keep every one of his planet-ruining, livelihood-decimating campaign promises. Or maybe it’s because we were all taught in school that corruption in government is always “there” (Africa, Asia, Russia), that it could never be here. 45 always acts in character, though, and the never-ending “did you see what he did NOW?!” is exhausting and, quite frankly, naive.

Continue reading “I Love Jesus But I Hate the Church”

Donald Trump May Be Mentally Ill, But It Isn’t Helping to Say So

trumpThere’s a flurry of posts and articles swirling around calling Donald Trump mentally ill, speculating on various disorders he might have or outright diagnosing him: sociopath; narcissist; oppositional defiant disorder. While it’s clear that he’s temperamentally unfit for the presidency, I think we need to be aware of how accusing Trump of being mentally ill is making things much worse for people who are already really vulnerable and who Trump’s administration is only going to make more so: those with so-called ‘mental illness.’ Continue reading Donald Trump May Be Mentally Ill, But It Isn’t Helping to Say So

Please Stop Saying People Aren’t Perfect

perfect-10My last post was angry and sad complaining against the Church. Not a day later did a staff member of the church I’m attending inform me of their holiday tradition of giving to those in their congregation who could use a little extra help. It’s doubtful she saw my post. The point is that I feel bad about complaining, not because my problems are magically fixed and not because, in this particular case, it was premature to assume that the church I go to doesn’t look out for its own, but because I just don’t want to be that kind of person. So what follows is not done in the spirit of criticism, but hopefully in the spirit of hope and encouragement.

Continue reading Please Stop Saying People Aren’t Perfect

Can We Please Talk About How We’re Talking About Stuff?

typewriter-keysWe hear a lot about how narratives are powerful, that if you want to move someone, tell them a story, that we are creatures of story. As a writer, I’d like to eat all that up. But our culture is rapidly composting story into gossip and substance into insincerity. Journalists claim to “go where the story takes them;” what if that story is of a dangerous hate-spitting buffoon who doesn’t even really want to be president but gets himself elected anyway? Is there no moral obligation to do more than repeat ad nauseum atrocious and odious things he does and says, thereby normalizing them and desensitizing the public to them? Continue reading Can We Please Talk About How We’re Talking About Stuff?

We Don’t Have To Calm Down

no-evilThere is a time to be peaceful, a time to let go of arguments and agree to disagree. This is not one of those times. Those of us who care about justice, equality and love more than power, vengeance, winning and getting ahead not only have a right to be outraged; we have a duty to be outraged. Those of us who are Christians not only have a right to be disgusted by claims that God appointed Donald Trump, we have a duty to speak out against such unbiblical falsities. It is not only the right of those of us who have been made much more vulnerable by this election, it is entirely appropriate.  Continue reading We Don’t Have To Calm Down

Vulnerability, A Definition in the Trump Era

foot-stompThe only response I have to America’s election results last Tuesday is this. Those who are against everything Trump stands for can show it by looking out for all who this election has just made much more vulnerable. On some level, who that is is obvious; these are people whom Trump has specifically targeted – pretty much everyone but straight, cis, wealthy, white men (which, no, is not “just as sexist and racist” as Trump. If I see only white men doing something, it’s not sexist and racist for me to call out white men; it’s speaking the truth. Also, reverse racism is not a thing and reverse sexism is not a thing. It’s the epitome of privilege to demand that the term sexism or racism be applied equally without fighting for actual equality among all). But, really, if we truly mean it when we say “we have to look out for each other,” we need to start paying attention to those who are silenced, endangered or invisibilized when: Continue reading Vulnerability, A Definition in the Trump Era