Oh the Glory of Selma!

The movie Selma is a must see. The theme song "Glory" by John Legend and Common is a must listen.
The movie Selma is a must see. The theme song "Glory" by John Legend and Common is a must listen.

I just returned from watching the movie Selma with my friend Petrea. Coincidentally we had agreed to read The Warmth of Other Suns about the great migration of Black Americans to the north and west to escape the violence of Jim Crow. Then we scheduled our girls night out to see Selma and we had an urgency to finish this terrific non-fiction book.

Isabel Wilkerson's wonderful account of three individuals who amplified the experience of 6 million Americans fleeing an intolerable situation, sometimes leaving everything behind, to seek freedom and opportunity for a better life. They often met the same racism though less formal. It helped us understand the climate of fear that Black Americans in Selma faced as they asserted their right to vote.

I braced myself for what I thought might be more of history lecture and was wonderfully surprised by Selma's power as a story, beautifully photographed, and expertly acted by great actors. Selma was riveting. I had chills for the last third of the movie.

I recommend this movie even to people outside of the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a model of leadership that should resonate with everyone.

The other sobering aspect are the echoes that still reverberate today. A defenseless young black man is shot by a state trooper in a restaurant. People are ridiculed for marching and "creating a civic disturbance." It takes place in Alabama and we could not help notice the parallel with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn ban on gay marriage in Alabama and the Alabama  Supreme Court Justice's decision to defy the court's decision.

It would be easy to shake our heads at those poor close-minded people in Alabama. Instead we tried to think of something we could do to make a difference for race relations and equality in Davis. We tend to be smug intellectuals who think we would never partake in anything so vulgar as what happened in Selma. But this is the town where a The Daily Show correspondent grew up and felt rejection because his family was from India. And where campus police sprayed mace directly into the eyes of student protesters. And where we never have our values tested, so we do not know if we have the courage of our convictions.

It was a Wednesday night so we did not expect a crowded theater. We had it all to ourselves. Go to the theater this weekend and see this powerful and important movie.


This blog post first appeared on Redesigning49.com.

Being Present in New York City

I planned this trip to New York City months ago. My main objective was to spend time with my friend Ray and I timed it to coincide with Vogue Knitting Live. Then a business trip to Nashville came up and I had to scramble to change flights and find someone to stay with Lulu. Just before the trip I finished an extensive goal setting exercise and realized it was paralyzing me, not inspiring me. I literally tore up the goals while UK Sarah watched via Skype! I replaced it with a recommitment to being present as much as possible. Then I flew to Nashville.

Nashville was a whirlwind and deserves its own post about what I learned there. On Thursday I continued on to New York City and enjoyed a great evening with Ray and his partner Jim.

With Ray Hippolyte in New York City

In the middle of the night I became seriously ill. Everything I ate that day came out violently. I felt like a truck ran over me, turned around and ran over me again.

I had plans! I had places to go, Sesame Street retrospectives to check out. Instead on Friday my big achievement was walking outside my hotel to get a vente hot tea at Starbucks. I slept a lot. I could not even claim to read or write a tweet or write a blog post. I had just enough energy to laugh at the irony: I had just reread the chapter in Steven Pressfield's War of Art about resistance to creativity. Illness is a common form of resistance.

Maybe it was food poisoning from cheese pizza at the Newark Airport, or may be it was the flu. Either way it was a great teacher. The only productive choice was to pass through it and put my diminished energy to getting better.

By the next day I felt washed out, yet considerably better. I spent some time at the Vogue Knitting Live event and met Ray for coffee. I wrote a little and ate carefully.

With Carrie Pieper, kindred spirit

Fortunately today I was okay. I said yes to meeting up with my cousin Carrie Pieper. We are the same generation of Pieper and I am 20 years older. She is delightful! She moved to New York City 3.5 months ago to seek her fame and fortune behind the scenes on Broadway. Already she has a self-supporting job, an apartment, friends, and a second job with Classic Stage Company. Gumption. (Sandy and Marty have every reason to be proud.)

We went for coffee at her workplace, Amy's Bread. We bought some pastries to take to Ray and Jim's for brunch and it turned out to be Jim's favorite indulgence. We enjoyed a classic New York City brunch at their spacious mid-town apartment, one guest even sang for us! Four and a half hours later we sloshed out into the rain feeling like cousins.

This weekend, with its wonderful connections, was made possible by living in the now.

Finding a Devotional for 2015

When I traveled I tore out the pages I needed and returned them to the book when I got home.
When I traveled I tore out the pages I needed and returned them to the book when I got home.

One of the challenges of following Christ for 40 years is a bad case of "been there, done that".  It is easy to start reading something about a Bible passage and check out because I have heard it before. I wanted to mix up my morning routine and figure out a devotional habit I could stick with all year. Will Schwalbe mentioned a devotional his dying mother had by her bedside: Daily Strengths for Daily Needs, by Mary Tileston. I bought it and every day I read another entry. I sustained the practice and I have just one entry left.

It has been short enough to make it impossible NOT to read everyday even though a lot of the entries are in old fashioned language that is hard to comprehend. Here is an example of one of four parts of December 27: "Whatever we are--high or lowly, learned or unlearned, married or single, in a full house or alone, charged with many affairs or dwelling in quietness--we have our daily round of work, our duties of affection, obedience, love, mercy, industry, and the like. And, that which makes one man to differ from another is not so much what things he does, as his manner of doing them." --Cardinal Henry Edward Manning.

I started searching for a replacement last week. Stephen Mattson mentioned Rob Bell's "What is the Bible?" found on Rob Bell's blog on Tumblr.  I checked it out and I love it. Posts are a perfect length. Enough to provide some inspiration or insight, not so much I have an time-limit excuse not to read. I have read 7 entries already because I love the perspectives.

If you are not part of the parallel universe of American Evangelical Church, Rob Bell is controversial. He wrote a terrific book called Love Wins that alienated him from the orthodox evangelical church. It must drive them crazy because he is a very gifted theologian, trained at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a great writer. He is a postmodern so he is approaching worship and following Christ differently. The main beef seems to be that he is not willing to condemn homosexuals to hell, or anyone really (hence Love Wins!).

I have read many Bible commentaries and devotions where I did not agree with everything the author wrote, so I do not mind exercising my discernment muscles. Plus I am more alienated from American Evangelicals and more aligned with Bell.

Most importantly it is reconnecting my intellect and my heart and the Holy Spirit.