Alright you lovelies,
I write this on the morning of my departure for England with the study abroad group; I wanted to send an update beforehand because I imagine the hits will come quick once I'm there and I shouldn't like to beleaguer readers with some elephantine saga attempting to cover several continents.
So, we made it to Disneyland after all, but Peter's Pan's flight was closed, with Pirates of the Caribbean. It turned out also to be one of the hottest days of summer and one the busiest and the good planners in Anaheim have ripped out all the benches and shade trees to encourage people to buy concessions at indoor tables. "Dispiriting," is how I'd categorize the affair, except that the news Star Wars land is so magical and fun it nearly rescued things. Here's a puzzlement: did you know that Disney has a book imprint? And they make pretty nice hardback versions of Moana and whatever? And did you also know that on Main Street USA there's a shop marked "bookstore"? Guess what they sell in it. Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. Narry a book in sight. Odd, right?
We headed from there down to sunny AZ where we promptly got COVID. All of us, one after another. So after all that driving, I didn't see my parents, sisters, or friends. We just laid about convalescing with my generous in-laws and then went home.
So you can imagine how glad I was to return to the jewel of the Pacific Northwest, where we saw the Wooden O's wonderful production of Midsummer Night's Dream, and started grilling and beach-going and bike-riding and generally making summer in earnest.
On the homefront, my daughter lost three teeth and my son grew three inches. Blessings abound.
Just now, the SPU MFA wrapped up its residency. As guests, we had Mark S. Burrows, Chigozie Obioma, and Christopher Merrill holding forth on topics various and sundry, including, importantly for me, Burrows on Rilke. Lord if that wasn't a refreshing time! And the students! I don't know when last I cried so much hearing these powerful writers' stories, poems, and benedictions and I know for sure I've never laughed so hard. I was wrung quite out. Doubt not, doubters, about the future of American letters. We're in good hands.
And speaking of letters, if you haven't heard, the writer Frederick Buechner died this week. He was the single most influential person on my writing and spiritual life and he led me safely out of my own period of theological deconstruction during the darkest time in my days. I mean this quite practically: we used to exchange letters and I told him what I was thinking and he told me what to read to help sort it out. I owe him tremendously. RIP.
I did a long interview with David Rayburn over at Practicing Gospel. Seriously, you should tune in even for a few seconds just to hear this man's careful southern drawl. I'm not sure I'm a "voice from the Christian Left" (the intended audience for this show), but I couldn't turn down the chance to talk with this well-read and curious fellow. Listen here or anywhere you get podcasts.
Theophobia by Bruce Beasley
The Monocle Guide to London
A Little Book on Form by Robert Hass
Growing Up pt. 2 by PEABOD. Another one that I got for my kids--they're nuts about it--so I hear it 2-4 times a day, which is less terrible than it sounds.
1960 by Soul-Junk. This is a crazy album. Trash-rock whose vocals are mostly or entirely shouted bits the King James Bible.
Wilco. Just various bits from various records to fill in the in-betweens.
(Here's some people I like a lot 👇) (the MFA writers)(I like the ones not pictured too, but this is one of those long, scroll-y photos whose technology is too wonderful for me to comprehend)
That's all for now. Let me know about your life. And go re-read a Buechner book this week.
I've got a plane to catch.