The Healing Power of Dogs

I don’t always know what to do with all the media options available to us now.  It’s a contradiction, I know, because I have very recently complained to friends and to myself about the lack of good things on the internet.  I’m always skating very near the edge of the end of internet, like Francis Fukuyama with much smaller stakes.

Then I find myself as wrong about communication as he was about history.  The cycle hums, the weekend comes, and these days are yours and mine, these happy, happy days.

I have OCD, so sometimes I get stuck in loops.  Sometimes I’m just loopy.  But what happens is this: I fall in love with WordPress or Twitter or Reddit for awhile.  I start again with poetry and prose.  By the time I go to bed I’m embarrassed by my enthusiasm.  There’s some kind of chemical remorse for having celebrated life.

Which is odd, because this is not how I live any other part of my life.  There are loops and loopiness, but never nagging guilt at having spent time on good things.  It’s tough for me to figure out, though I understand some of it.  A lot of it has to do with sometimes just not wanting to be bothered.  OCD is an anxiety disorder, and there are others, and if you have them, you know they love playing with each other.

This morning I was sick.  I had plans to write and work and clean, but my stomach felt in a mood to drive the balance of the action.  I laid down, and my German shepherd and my cousin’s beagle, whom I have adopted, laid on top of me and let me sleep for hours.  The sick part of feeling sick never, ever came.  The healing power of dogs.

Nothing against cats or their people.  My cat has done this, too.

Rested and busy (busy writing, busy reading, busy with the details of ministry and business and all the snow we’re having) I have today seen some great things on my WordPress feed, and so I share them.  One is a poem by Robert Okaji.  Another is this drawing by Luther Siler. He was sick today, too, but drew a fox, and it is awesome.

The healing power of (goats and cats and) dogs.

 

 

 

 

Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter

Lava is an evocative image.  In the last week, I’ve seen in it three poems. One in a bookstore, one I wrote partly in response, and now this from Robert Okaji, published at Vox Populi: Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter.

It’s used very precisely and sparingly and at the same time almost jarringly Okaji’s beautiful piece. Steeped as I often am in pastoral imagery (that is, of things having to do with land and animals and farming),  I also found myself pleasantly surprised at how effective the image of the goat is here.  A beautiful poem, and very well done.

 

On Uses of Your Time

Before I became a pastor and a food trucker, I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and taught writing for a season at a college in the Bronx.  Before I did that, I went to Yale Divinity School and got my MDiv there.

I write a lot.  Every now and then, I submit old or new fiction or poetry to various literary journals.  I’ve been doing this long enough to have watched the submissions process change from mostly postal to various electronic formats to the now-standard service at Submittable.  I’ve watched the rise of submission fees, and I refuse to pay them. I try to spend more time writing than writing about writing.  I’ve had various plan Bs.

There are more journals now than ever.  They all say variations of the same thing.  Send us your best work.  We are picky.  We want to highlight emerging writers.   And we do, and they are, and they do.  At the same time, there seem to be more small presses than ever, which is a good thing.  There are also more writers than ever, and here I mean very talented ones.

It is always tempting to start a new journal, edited and curated by me, reflecting only my tastes.  It is always tempting to do that, until you realize that means your own work gets pushed further and further to the back.

The key, I think, is persistence.

That’s not a revelation.  It may be a reminder.

No matter your vocation, and I really mean this, no matter your vocation, you will be tempted to give up because you’ve tried so hard, so long, because life or people aren’t fair, because the meritocracy has failed, because you hold current tastes in contempt (too much or not enough), because you are too revolutionary or your politics too nuanced.

The key, I think, is perspective. Live your life, take care of your family.  Take care of yourself, and let people help.

The rest will come.  Or won’t.   It’s not up to you or your talent. In the end, it doesn’t matter.  There are millions of talented people, and you are probably one of them, whether I know your name or don’t.  Bless the people around you.  Be talented in that, and build that talent up in you and other people.

 

 

 

Deep Fried Mozzarella Sandwich; Huffington Post Shuts Down Submissions

I’m not going to lie.  This looks really good.  I’m not a doctor or dietician, but I’d also say probably not for anyone struggle with heart disease.

The Huffington Post believes it has done all it can to democratize the the internet via its contributor platform, which has now been shut down.  It’s funny that this email came when it did, given that I’ve been thinking about the proliferation of markets, many of which are niche, the popularity of submission fees (please), and the reality that so few very talented writers get through.

Here’s the email from HuffPost:

Dear HuffPost Contributors,

When HuffPost launched in 2005, it introduced a group blogging platform that revolutionized and democratized online commentary. It allowed teachers, parents and protesters to share space with celebrities, politicians and CEOs while trading ideas on the pressing issues of the day. Over the years, more than 100,000 contributors have posted on the site, with many of you posting from the start.

Today, with the proliferation of social media and self-publishing platforms across the web, people have many more opportunities to share their thoughts and opinions online. At the same time, the quantity and volume of noise means truly being heard is harder than ever. Those who are willing to shout the loudest often drown out new, more-deserving voices. The same has proven to be true on our own platform.

It is with this in mind that we have made the decision to close the contributors platform on our U.S. site. Going forward, when you log in to the portal at contributors.huffingtonpost.com, you’ll see that you are able to access your previous drafts and published posts — and unpublish those posts if you choose to do so — but you won’t be able to post anything new. We won’t be taking down or making any changes to previously published content ourselves.

We’ll still be publishing commentary on the site, we’ll just be doing it at much smaller scale, collaborating with writers to share smart, original ideas and making sure that we’re lifting up the voices that have been left out of the conversation in the past. We hope to keep hearing from many of you in the future, and more information about how to pitch us your ideas will be published on the site.

Thanks for being an integral part of the HuffPost community. Your bold, thoughtful contributions to HuffPost’s contributor platform have helped to make us what we are today, and we are so grateful and proud to have had you with us in this endeavor.

Sincerely,

The HuffPost Team

The Big Bang and the Personal God

I think I’d heard of God’s Crime Scene before clicking through a link on reddit this morning, but I don’t know very much at all about the work of J. Warner Wallace.

With that caveat, I share this post: A Personal God is the Best Explanation for the Beginning of the Universe.

I found this part to be especially interesting:

“Big bang cosmology, often referred to as the Standard Cosmological Model, demonstrates that everything we see in the universe (all space, time, and matter) had a beginning and came from nothing. If this is true, the first cause of the universe must itself be non-spatial, a-temporal, and immaterial.”

Wallace goes on to say that the first cause must also be personal (with respect to personal force, which can choose when to act, and impersonal forces, like gravity, which cannot). I’m not sure how convincing I find that part of his premise, but I like his point about the Standard Model requiring a non-spatial, a-temporal (timeless), immaterial first cause.

Christians believe, of course, that God is personal, and that God chose to incarnate (to step out of the immaterial and timeless glories of eternity) and come to us as Jesus.  Regardless of how creation happened, that’s how Christmas happened.

Have a Merry one!

Tom Petty

Look at the release dates of all those amazing singles. Every single time against the grain of popular culture. He somehow propelled traditional rock into forward-thinking music for adults that was at once readily accessible and deeply meaningful. It was familiar and at the same time totally new. It was comforting and challenging. It was unassuming and irrepressible, just like the man who made it.

Love you, Tom.

I rolled on as the sky grew dark
I put the pedal down to make some time
There’s something good waitin’ down this road
I’m pickin’ up whatever’s mine