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Archive for March, 2011

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity while in Montgomery, Alabama to go and study at a shop called Cafe Louisa in Old Cloverdale. After a few hours of studying the life of Flannery O’Connor, I took a few minutes to snag some shots of this beautiful, quaint, and unique little section of Montgomery. A few at the end are able to be clicked (enlarged) and used as screen savers if desired.






















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I have really been enjoying Typhoon‘s new EP, “A New Kind of House.” Here is a video from NPR of them playing two songs at SXSW. Seriously, watch this and pick up the EP. You won’t be disappointed.

 

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My favorite author, Flannery O’connor, was born on this date in 1925 in Savannah, GA, and died from lupus in 1964. I was going to write a brief biography of her life here, but that will need to wait for another time. I think everyone should read O’Connor, especially Christians and those that live in the South. Her two novels, along with her short stories, are perfection in my mind. When I first read A Good Man is Hard to Find, and Wise Blood, I was shocked not only at her skill in writing sentences and conveying reality, but also at her ability to convey the mystery that there is in the world. By mystery, I mean that which is not merely concrete. In addition to her stories, her writings on the subject of writing and literature have greatly affected my view of writing, the world, and even pastoral care. All of this said, I highly recommend her and am thankful to God for the body of work that she produced.

Here are some links and a few quotes from her lectures and essays to wet your palate. The second quote I have found particularly helpful in thinking about pastoral care, writing, and being a Christian in community.
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1. Flannery O’Connor: Collected Works
This is likely the best volume to get, as it contains almost everything she wrote, besides an essay or two. One of my favorite books in my library.

2. Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose
This short volume is a treasure. It contains lectures and essays on the subjects of writing, literature, her own work, the south, and the grotesque.

3. The Complete Stories
This is a helpful book as it contains all of her short stories in chronological order.

4. Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor
I have been reading through this biography of O’Connor over the last several days and have found it helpful and insightful to her life and work.
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“Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one. To be able to recognize a freak, you have to have some conception of the whole man, and in the South the general conception of man is still, in the main, theological. That is a large statement, and it is dangerous to make it, for almost anything you say about Southern belief can be denied in the next breath with equal propriety. But approaching the subject from the standpoint of the writer, I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. The Southerner who isn’t convinced of it, is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God. Ghosts can be very fierce and instructive. They cast strange shadows, particularly in our literature. In any case, it is when the freak can be sensed as a figure for our essential displacement that he attains some depth in literature.”
(from The Grotesque in Southern Fiction)

“There is one myth about writers that I have always felt was particularly pernicious and untruthful–the myth of the “lonely writer,” the myth that writing is a lonely occupation, involving much suffering because, supposedly, the writer exists in a state of sensitivity which cuts him off, or raises him above, or casts him below the community around him. This is a common cliche, a hangover probably from the romantic period and the idea of the artist as Sufferer and Rebel.

Probably any of the arts that are not performed in chorus line are going to come in for a certain amount of romanticizing, but it seems to me particularly bad to do this to writers and especially fiction writers, because fiction writers engage in the homeliest, and most concrete, and most unromanticizable of the arts. I suppose there have been enough genuinely lonely suffering novelists to make this seem a reasonable myth, but there is every reason to suppose that such cases are the result of less admirable qualities in these writers, qualities which have nothing to do with the vocation of writing itself.

Unless the novelist has gone utterly out of his mind, his aim is still communication and communication suggests talking inside a community. One of the reasons Southern fiction thrives is that our best writers are able to do this. They are not alienated , they are not lonely suffering artists gasping for purer air. The Southern writer apparently feels the need of expatriation less than other writers in this country. Moreover, when he does leave and stay gone, he does so at great peril to that balance between principle and fact, between judgment and observation, which is so necessary to maintain if fiction is to be true. The isolated imagination is easily corrupted by theory, but the writer inside his community seldom has such a problem.”
(from The Regional Writer)

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Music: Seryn

Let me introduce you to the music of Seryn. I listened to their debut record, This is Where We Are, twice today at work and was blown away by their thoughtful lyrics and melodies, tight harmonies, and amazing energy. You should pick up their record or at least listen to a few streaming tracks. Here a video of “Our Love” to get you started. Be patient with this one, there are a few hiccups but it’s worth it.

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Next week, my dear friend Matt Galyon and his wife Sara are moving to Boston to join The Boston Initiative and church planting effort being headed up by lead pastor Juan Maclean. We spent an hour or so on Saturday morning walking around Louiville, grabbing a few shots along the way. Here’s a few I came away with, though time with my friend was the real pleasure.
















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Friday Photo

Here are a few shots I took while walking in my neighborhood last week. I’m thinking of doing a project on my neighborhood and side of town this summer as my schedule will be less demanding. Stay tuned.



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February Records

Here are most of the records that I listened to in February.

2010 Tron: Legacy Soundtrack: Daft Punk
2001 Low Level Own: Vol 1: The Appleseed Cast
2011 The People’s Key: Bright Eyes
2005 Digital Ash in a Digital Urn: Bright Eyes
1959 Time Out: The Dave Brubeck Quartet
2011 Barton Hollow: The Civil Wars
2007 The Trumpet Child: Over the Rhine
2011 Dye it Blonde: Smith Westerns
2010 The Five Ghosts: Stars
2009 God Bless Your Weary Soul, Amanda Richardson: Pearl & the Beard
1967 John Wesley Harding: Bob Dylan
1969 Nashville Skyline: Bob Dylan
1970 Self Portrait: Bob Dylan
1970 New Morning: Bob Dylan
1983 Reckoning: R.E.M.
2011 Zonoscope: Cut Copy
1985 Fables of the Reconstruction: R.E.M.
2011 James Blake: James Blake
2008 19: Adele
2011 21: Adele
2011 Smart Flesh: Low Anthem
2010 The Head and the Heart: The Head and the Heart
2007 Person Pitch: Panda Bear
2005 The Very Best of… : Peter, Paul, and Mary

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