Chautauqua Institution is a really cool, interfaith, historic retreat center in southwestern New York state, and it’s a hive of activity each summer as over 100,000 people converge on the place to listen to lectures, enjoy music, eat incredible food, play sports and enjoy beaches and parkland.
My dad has spoken there many times, and this year they invited me to come and give a lecture on the subject, “Cultivating Friendship and Community in an Age of Anxiety.” Check it out!
by John Ciardi
What lifts the heron leaning on the air
I praise without a name. A crouch, a flare,
a long stroke through the cumulus of trees,
a shaped thought at the sky–then gone. O rare!
Saint Francis, being happiest on his knees,
would have cried Father! Cry anything you please
But praise. By any name or none. But praise
the white original burst that lights
the heron on his two soft kissing kites.
When saints praise heaven lit by doves and rays,
I sit by pond scums till the air recites
It’s heron back. And doubt all else. But praise.
Hey there! Thanks so much for all your interest in my story of coming out of Christianity and into secular humanism. There are three separate ways you can find out more about this:
(1) Mark Oppenheimer’s great piece in the New York Times Magazine, which you can read right away HERE if you haven’t already.
(2) HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins, is publishing a book co-authored by my dad and I in conversation about my step away from Christianity. The release date is February 21st, 2017 for the hardcover edition. The link is HERE if you’d like more info.
(3) Filmmaker John Wright is producing a feature-length documentary with my dad and I which features that same conversation captured on camera. The first opportunities to see it will be coming up in March 2017 and online streaming shortly after that. That link is HERE to watch a trailer and get more information.
Again, thanks for all the interest in this stuff; honestly I’m pretty excited about it.
A few months ago I got a call from my old friend, Tripp Fuller, inviting me to be a guest on his curiously popular theology podcast, Homebrewed Christianity. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance, mainly because I knew that Tripp and his crowd are confident enough in their various versions of faith that I didn’t have to be too careful with them.
The audio quality isn’t fabulous for some reason, and the conversation itself is pretty twisty, but you’ll know if it’s your cup of tea after 10 minutes, and if so, here’s a really nice potful.
I’ve gotten some wonderful emails lately, but I’m sharing this one because the poem at the end of it really does capture the essence of Humanize Me 106. Thanks for paying attention, Polly, and for sending me such a gem.
Just listened to your episode ‘Sitting in a Car Contemplating Finitude’. I mean… dayyum! Made me feel all the feels. The episodes where it’s just you alone are some of my favorites. It feels intimate, and raw and present and alive. You got me with this finitude thing my man. Part of me wanted to hug you because I knew the pain you were feeling and part of me wanted to hug you for expressing such a deep feeling we don’t talk about much. It felt good to hear it spoken out loud. It took some of the sting out of it.
You’re killing it with the podcast, my friend. Very proud of you.
PS- Here’s a poem that really knocks me sideways. I think it describes the way you were feeling in that rental car in Cincinnati, looking at your old neighborhood.
Molly the Brave
by Jim Harrison
Molly was the bravest
In April she would swing out
over the river on a rope
tied to an elm branch. There was still
ice along the bank and one day
her body was found down by the weir
with a bruised head, which meant she hit ice.
One summer evening she hugged me in her wet
black bathing suit after I brought her a milk shake.
My blood became hot and moved in all directions.
When we caught frogs to eat their legs
she said, ”We are animals.” And on the hill
by the river we illegally picked trillium.
All the boys wanted to marry her.
We kept putting the wildflowers she loved
on her grave. More than sixty years
later I see dearly-that no one gets over anything
least of all Molly by the river,
swinging up through the air—
On my bike ride to USC, I often use one ear to listen to podcasts while minding traffic with the other. I love plenty of episodes of WTF with Marc Maron, Science Friday, Freakanomics Radio, On Being with Krista Tippett, Beautiful Anonymous with Christ Gerhard, and Tangentially Speaking with Christopher Ryan, but all of them post the occasional dud. Since the beginning of time, however, This American Life has never let me down. Week in and week out, Ira Glass and company pump out hugely entertaining stories that make you laugh and cry and… think.
If you’re like me, you often finish a book, article or podcast and immediately think of a specific person who would love it, or who you think needs to hear it. A few weeks ago, however, this segment of This American Life, entitled For Your Reconsideration, made me think of virtually every good-hearted humanist in the world, including you.
Simply stated, if you’ve been wondering how we’re going to persuade all those folks who have lost their faith in God or never had any in the first place – but haven’t yet committed to pursuing loving relationships, doing work that helps other people, and cultivating a sense of awe and gratitude for the wonders of life – well… listen up!