I found myself
staring at the wall. I'd done two- and three-day retreats, but this was four
days alone in a cottage, and the stretch of time was unnerving. I had to go
outside to get cell phone reception and (horrors!) walk a quarter of a mile if
I wanted to get online. At first the disconnection was deafening.
Rash writes stories that have as much impact as any I've read; those in this
collection often left me feeling as if I'd been kicked. Rash lives in and writes
about Appalachia, and his stories never leave that home, even when they're set
at the end of the civil war ("Lincolnites").
In the 1830s most Americans were finding plenty of adventure in their own country. It was just over 50 years old, after all. Some were trudging along the new Oregon Trail; some were pushing Native Americans west of the Mississippi with legislation or guns; others were involved in increasingly volatile arguments over slavery.
"Occupy Wall Street may not come up with solutions, but at
least it is asking the right questions in a nonviolent setting," says Shane Claiborne. "I don't believe
that love can be forced, but I believe it can be provoked."
When I walked into a
screening of The Way, which opens today, I knew very little about the film; only that it
stars Martin Sheen and is directed by his son, Emilio Estevez, and that it
involves pilgrims hiking El Camino de Santiago, a
450-mile historical pilgrimage route across northern Spain.
The world will
always be fascinated with Vincent van Gogh. It doesn't matter that his
sunflowers are on mugs, t-shirts, calendars and billboards, or that
psychologists have spent years studying every facet of van Gogh's emotional and
The Chatelet Apprentice, by Jean-François Parot.
I've been re-invigorating my French with the mystery novels of French diplomat Jean-François Parot.
(Several titles are available in English.) As police commissioner Nicolas Le
Floch works to solves crimes in 18th-century Paris, author Parot expands the plot
with descriptions of the era's culture, political intrigues and haute cuisine.
As Dominique Strauss-Kahn,
former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, tries to find a nicer place to stay than
Riker's Island, the French media are busy unraveling the shock bite that came
with an accusatio
I like the energy and talent in our praise group, but invariably I'm the one who asks if the bass player could turn
down his amp. I've also been known to ask if we could sing more songs that let
Jesus down off of the cross.
While on retreat recently, I picked up Patrick Leigh
Fermor's A Time to Keep Silence. I
was making my own transition from noisy life and noisy mind to four days of
retreat when I came upon Fermor's description of his retreat at a French
monastery in the '50s.
"In the ordinary course of human affairs countries churn slowly.
. . and then there are moments of special upheaval, when empires depart, when
ideologies rotate. . . . India was in the midst of such a moment. The meanings of
destiny, family, love, class--of what it means to be Indian--were being defined
anew by millions of people, all at once."
True Grit has
a lot of competition in the upcoming Oscar award night, February 27. It's not
expected to win big, although it's been nominated for ten awards. Before
the attention fades, however, I want to cast one more vote for the western
remade last year by the Coen brothers.
Eugene Peterson's new memoir, The Pastor, will be out in February (Century subscribers can read the excerpt from the book
in the February 8 issue.) If any pastor has claimed the vocation, it's
Peterson, who has grounded and inspired pastors for many years with books that
include Under the Unpredictable Plant
and The Contemplative Pastor.
a new year, with new opportunities to banter around familiar clichés such as
"taking time on the journey," cultivating "spirituality but not religion" and
"going on retreat." Most of us agree that solitude is key to all of these
endeavors, and that solitude is a good thing.