Tag: Annie Dillard

  • Annie Dillard’s Writing Life

    Annie Dillard’s Writing Life

    It’s hard for me to overstate how much of an influence Annie Dillard has been on me over the years. A short story about weasels in her essay collection Teaching a Stone to Talk is a big part of my call story. The one about a man pursuing her as a child through the snow […]

  • Finding the Music of the World

    Finding the Music of the World

    “Take away the words to the song and hope will take up humming;” I’m not sure how the Rev. Paul Escamilla wrote those words on his manuscript before delivering them in a sermon some some weeks ago. There’s usually a little poetry in sermons, even if you’re not aiming for that old sermon structure of […]

  • #4-One Long River of Song-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    #4-One Long River of Song-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    I like to keep a magical writer by my morning reading chair. For a few blessed months this year and last it was Brian Doyle, whose brief essays in the collection One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder sing. His observations have the attention of a nature writer and the lilt of an Irishman […]

  • Starving to See Every Bit: A Review of Brian Doyle’s One Long River of Song

    Starving to See Every Bit: A Review of Brian Doyle’s One Long River of Song

    There’s a special kind of glory in the writing of those who bring extraordinary attention and a capacious spiritual vocabulary to the business of describing the world as it is. The Irish seem to have such glory in spades, even in the diaspora. And it certainly touched the late Brian Doyle, whose essays have been […]

  • Why You Need to Know This Bitter Southerner: Heartlands Interviews Chuck Reece, Part 1 of 3

    Why You Need to Know This Bitter Southerner: Heartlands Interviews Chuck Reece, Part 1 of 3

    I was standing in a cemetery near Onancock, sweating in the mid-July heat, when Chuck Reece asked me how I got from radio journalism into ministry.  I was supposed to be interviewing him, but Chuck Reece, even over the phone, is a master at sniffing out stories and he trained his curiosity on me before […]

  • Tinder Mercies – Poetry

    Tinder Mercies – Poetry

    ‘But everywhere I look I see fire; that which isn’t flint is tinder and the whole world sparks and flames.’ —Annie Dillard, ‘On foot in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley’ ‘I have found the dominant of my range and state— Love, O my God, to call thee Love and Love’ —Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘Let Me Be to […]

  • The Most-Read of 2017: A Heartlands Retrospective

    The Most-Read of 2017: A Heartlands Retrospective

    2017 began with a quaint and quixotic belief that one more blog might be helpful in addressing the Great Divide.  Post-election I was casting about for a way to explore this strange, new world we all seemed to be living in.  Were we really as divided as we seemed?  Had we forgotten how to talk […]

  • Taking Hospitality Out of the House (& Keeping Worship Weird)

    Taking Hospitality Out of the House (& Keeping Worship Weird)

    Preachers are fond of quoting Annie Dillard’s devastating critique of worship as she experienced it in a traditional church: On the whole, I do not find Christians outside of the catacombs sufficiently sensible of conditions.  Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke?  Or, as I suspect, does no […]

  • “A Grace Wholly Gratuitous”

    “A Grace Wholly Gratuitous”

    ‘Cruelty is a mystery, and the waste of pain.  But if we describe a world to encompass these things, a world that is a long, brute game, then we bump up against another mystery: the inrush of power and light, the canary that sings on the skull.  For unless all ages and races of men […]

  • How to Preach a Bad Sermon

    How to Preach a Bad Sermon

    Yesterday, I preached a bad sermon.  I quoted and misquoted Mark Twain, King, and Ghandi without attribution.  I cruelly mocked my child by telling stories of his misdeeds.  I violated the privacy of a parishioner with health issues to highlight my prowess in pastoral care.  And I managed to talk far more about myself than […]