October 31, 2012
As Franciscan (or Jewish, Or Muslim) As We Wanna Be (#francisforpresident)My name is David A. Zimmerman, and I approved this post.
My friend Jon Boyd turned me on to the following story from a recent IVP publication.
You might reasonably assume that this story would be found in one of our Likewise books, which has as its theme Jesus' punctuation of the parable of the Good Samaritan: "Go and do likewise." It's actually from a recent release in our IVP Academic line--The Unfolding Mystery of the Divine Name, by Michael P. Knowles. I suppose it's worth reiterating that Likewise Books has not trademarked the phrase "Go and do likewise"; the more in the public domain the phrase is (along with its allusions to loving your neighbor), the better, I always say. (I've never actually said that.)
Here we see the phrase attributed not to Jesus in the first century but to the voice of Yahweh, in conversation with Abraham, the original patriarch. Knowles traces the provenance of the story, quoting t from a 1657 book by an Anglican cleric, who had apparently lifted it from a 1651 publication by a Jewish writer in Amsterdam, Solomon Ibn Verga. He in turn had borrowed the story from Muslim poet Saadi, who lived and wrote in the thirteenth century. The broad utility of the story demonstrates the common lineage of Jews, Muslims and Christians. Father Abraham, it seems, did in fact have many sons.
Jon thought I would like the story because of Likewise, and I do. But I was also a little bummed, because I really wanted the story to trace back to the Franciscans, so that I could tie it in to my campaign to get St. Francis of Assisi elected president next week (#francisforpresident). But what is a campaign without a little spinning of facts? Change the name Abraham to Friar Angelo, perhaps, and change God to St. Francis, and the whole story would fit quite comfortably in Little Flowers.
Such deception is a tactic with considerable precedent in presidential campaigns. But I don't suppose we have to resort to it. The truth is, the spirit of the story is transcendent: as we've already seen, Jews, Muslims and Christians alike have repeated it approvingly, and it certainly aligns comfortably with Francis' approach to hospitality. I alluded to it in an earlier post, but here's Jamie Arpin-Ricci's full retelling from The Cost of Community.
So, attribute it to St. Francis and call it a Christian story. Or attribute it to God and call it a Christian story. Or a Jewish story. Or a Muslim story. It really doesn't matter: the point is to read a nice little story of loving your neighbor, whoever that neighbor may be, and then go and do likewise.
October 29, 2012
Friends Are Friends Wherever #francisforpresidentA sappy little post by David A. Zimmerman
My friend Sarah Cunningham is running a nice little campaign right now that she's called "The Great Big Friendship Blog." Its premise is simple: We get too busy (often with our own self-promotion) to celebrate or even acknowledge the impact of people on our lives, so why not schedule it?
This little experiment of Sarah's was on my mind when I got together with Ben, an old, old friend--a former roommate and part of my wedding party--whose life no longer regularly intersects with mine. Turns out Ben has been thinking about friendship a lot lately too. In fact, I told him he should get in touch with Sarah, because he and she are thinking in similar ways, and he might want to get in on the neighborhood-by-neighborhood movement she's trying to start. And then he and I brainstormed some ways our lives might start intersecting more regularly again.
I've always thought friendship was weird. It's such a loaded concept--"Friends are friends forever," and all that--and yet it seems so ephemeral, tied as it is to where we happen to live, how our time happens to be scheduled, what circles we happen to be running, how heavily our work and family and other demands weigh on us.
Friendship is particularly ephemeral now; we change jobs and churches and neighborhoods and even states or countries a lot more these days than our parents and grandparents used to. When we hear friend anymore, we don't think of a noun meaning "someone engaged in a deep personal relationship"; we think of a verb meaning "to network; to extend one's personal brand." Thanks, social media.
In that respect, a blog--technically a social medium--seems a strange place to celebrate friendship. But subversive acts often seem strange. To celebrate friendship via social media is to defy the gravitational pull of superficiality that social media seem to exert. It is to colonize territory that has been hostile to our classic concepts of friendship. It is to shout a new rallying cry from the rooftops: "Friends are friends wherever!"
So I'm happy here to celebrate some of my wherever friends--including Sarah, whose clever brain came up with the whole experiment.
I'll celebrate Ben, who reached out to me for no other reason than he thought of me, because he's like that.
These friends and more are distributed all over the place, and some of them I may never see face to face again. But they're still friends--wherever, whenever, forever.
How about you? Any friends you want to brag on?
Get the full details on Sarah Cunningham's Great Big Friendship Blog campaign here.
Since we're still campaigning for St. Francis of Assisi to be the next president of the United States (join us: hashtag #francisforpresident), let me here suggest that friendship is a significant plank in Francis's platform. Francis values friendship so highly that he refers even to people who robbed his order as "brothers": "Let whoever may approach us," he told a fellow friar, "whether friend or foe, thief or robber, be received kindly." (Jamie Arpin-Ricci tells the story behind this quote in his book The Cost of Community.
Also check out Lynne Baab's lovely little book Friending, which explores the challenges and opportunities facing friendship in the digital age.
And finally, to colonize the divide between economic classes in the name of friendship, read Friendship at the Margins by Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl.
Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 3:09 PM
October 25, 2012
Team Francis! #francisforpresidentYou've seen the ads, gone to the rallies, heard the debates. The clock is ticking, all you undeclared and undecided out there: who's going to get your vote?
Let me make a modest suggestion: St. Francis of Assisi for President!
Sure he's long dead, but Francis would have made a great president. He had good credentials:
That's Francis: the Teflon Kid.
Meanwhile, the time is right for a Franciscan presidency.
Francis's platform is available online, or you can read it in the tell-all book The Cost of Community by Jamie Arpin-Ricci. I hope on November 6 you'll remember Francis as you head to the polls. Between now and then, you can help our campaign by telling your friends and followers about Francis's platform, using the hashtag #francisforpresident. Sure, he's got a weird name and his American citizenship is in dispute, but pesky details like that shouldn't get in the way of a leader whose time has come.
Posted by Dave Zimmerman at 12:47 PM
October 19, 2012
Walking into a Strangely Dim Future
A farewell post from Lisa Rieck
Way back in June, July and August, when the trees were not the beautiful reds and oranges that they are now and the Halloween decorations were not yet out (thankfully), we did a series here at Strangely Dim on calling. I intended to write a personal post, reflecting on my own sense of calling as I have discerned it/am discerning it thus far. But alas, that didn't happen; all you got from me was reflections on mourning (so fitting, no?).
I suppose this, my last words as an official Strangely Dim blogger, is that post. As Dave mentioned, I've taken a job as a writer/editor/proofreader at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Madison, Wisconsin. This admittedly large step has come out of my sense of God's calling on my life at this time and place, as I've paid attention to my soul and to what makes me feel alive, and as I've sensed God speaking to me about fear and trusting him and writing and community and change (among other things). And I think, when it comes to calling, that's really how it is: we pay attention, we listen, we explore, we step out in faith.
I make it sound so easy, I know. Change and stepping out in faith and trying new things never are; following God's leading rarely is. But even in the midst of the stress of wrapping up at IVP, the sadness of all the goodbyes, the deep concentration it's taking not to pack my car keys in a box--it's good. I sense God's presence and leading, and have seen his confirmation and grace in so many ways in the process.
I don't think every change will be that way. Sometimes, perhaps, the road is not as clear, and our sense of God speaking and leading is not as tangible. Those steps are even less easy. But even in those changes God is good, as he is now, and we can trust him to be near, to lead, to hear us when we cry for help. The goodness of God I'm experiencing so richly now will be a stone of remembrance for the times when I can only believe--but perhaps not sense--that he is near.
My prayer for you, sweet readers, is that you too would know God's goodness and nearness--always by faith, but also in tangible ways as you pay attention and come to see him at work more and more in you and around you. Here's to living and moving and having our being as we're called and led by God. One last time, I'm raising my cup of hot tea to you.
Posted by Lisa Rieck at 9:49 AM
October 15, 2012
Acid Free Forever?!? In Search of a Book Lover's Rallying Cry
A rant and broad appeal by David A. Zimmerman
How is it, twenty-some years now since the rise of digital music, that you can say "Viva Vinyl!" to a teenager and they'll know what you're talking about? Sure, you can show a kid a picture of a record or a record player, of an LP or a 45, and they'll stare blankly at you, but shout "Viva!" and wait for them to fill in the blank, and dollars to donuts they won't shout back "la Revoluçion!" They'll shout "Vinyl!" in a defiant and self-congratulatory tone. You might even get a fist bump out of them.
For whatever reason, musical purists have been able to keep the dream of analog musical recordings alive long past their supposed time of death. Maybe some cabal of music snobs got their heads together early enough; maybe they played so many records backwards in search of satanic messages from their favorite rock bands that the march of progress through time ceased to have any power over them. Maybe there was enough fear of the rise of the machines, enough rage against said machines, in the zeitgeist that they were able to drop a needle on this anachronistic technology and keep it spinning. However it happened, you can still find LP records, still find 33-1/3 record players, still find people of all ages who prefer their music delivered via petroleum byproduct rather than bits and bytes.
High time you took a lesson from this, all you literary purists out there. Enough waxing eloquent about the smell of books, the feel of bound pages, the utility of dog earing and whatnot. The early adopters of ebooks are far too busy and distracted by their tweets and pinterests to listen to you go on and on about it. You don't need odes and jeremiads; you need a rallying cry.
Trouble is, books don't lend themselves to rallying cries. "Acid Free Forever!" for example. What does it mean? It's an allusion to the industry standard that all books be printed using paper with a pH value of seven or greater, which extends the life of each printed book and the machines that make them. Acid-free books don't yellow the way really old books do; their pages don't get brittle the way really old paper does. But ask the average person on the street what "acid free" means and they'll be highly unlikely to talk about book manufacturing. They'll probably talk about drug rehab.
So, I'm at a loss, book purists. But at least I'm trying. And now I'm providing a forum. Take your best shot:
What's your rallying cry to keep print books alive?
October 12, 2012
Lament for a Lyricist: The Best of Lisa Rieck
Our little Lisa Rieck is leaving our little nest. She's taken a job in a whole 'nother state: Wisconsin, home to cheese, fireworks and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Lisa will be writing and editing for our parent organization (working closely with Adam Jeske, coauthor of the recent Likewise book This Ordinary Adventure), and we wish her well in it. We'll miss her here, of course, but we're hoping that we'll still get to enjoy a post from her every now and again. In the meantime, here are some of Lisa's greatest hits, focusing on her unique poetic stylings.*** Good readers, I want you to know
I've missed your bright comments, your glow.
I cried for a while
I missed your great style
and my heart was filled with much woe.
But joy fills my heart up today
and beams out like a soft sunny ray (which, I might add, we haven't seen here in a while)
Yes, I can't wait to read
your own rhymes, for I need
to know what you all have to say!
--from "There once was a girl who missed blogging . . ." October 27, 2009 *** Ode to Boca Chik'n Meatless Patties
easy and quick,
of frozen food options
these are my top pick!
They're tasty, and healthy,
and kind to the chicks
(not a feather was harmed
when these patties were mixed!).
They go well on salad,
in wraps or on bread.
Add dressing and cheeses,
or mustard instead.
Packed full of good soy,
then breaded and cooked,
just one taste of these and
I bet you'll be hooked.
Ninety seconds on high
in a good microwave
and you're ready to eat--
oh the time you will save!
So rush out and buy some
they're worth every buck.
(If I beat you there,
you might be out of luck.)
Try them with couscous,
make one for a friend,
the options are endless.
Soon you will depend
on Boca's fine patties
for dinner each night.
Even if you can't cook
they'll turn out just right!
I'm confident soon
with me you'll agree
they're simply fantastic--
just try them and see!
--from "We Interrupt Our Lenten Reflections . . ." March 12, 2010 *** Sum folks may claim (I wont name names)
that editing need, we don't
I; ofer you hear
ode an that makes clear
why survyving without it--we won't
Things are A miss (I promise u this)!
without a good editor's eyes
we labour for. You
to make errorrs few
so all of your books are good buys.
Idaes shine threw and words becomme new
when editing! work is done well
And what the is test
of an editors best ?
Reader, you are the one who can tell!
--from "Ode to Editing," December 3, 2007 *** Oh moto, you charm me:
threading through Phnom Penh streets
with grace and ease, your rubber meets
both cement and dirt, sidewalk and road
with ease and grace, whate'er the load
(you carry mattresses, balloons,
five men at once 'neath suns and moons,
or babies in their parent's arms,
papaya, ladders, rice from farms--
there's almost nothing you don't hold,
this, more than once, our team was told.)
Your riders drive with confidence
(and generally with less expense.)
You hardly ever have to stop
unless you see a watching cop;
at red lights you can simply slow
and weave amidst the coming flow
of traffic, people, ox-pulled carts.
Your feats did stop our sheltered hearts
more times than I can here recount.
For you, moto, respect did mount;
you're moving up among the ranks--
but I'll still drive my car with thanks.
--from "Kudos to Motos," November 27, 2007 *** Please post your farewell odes, limericks, free verse or even prose to Lisa as she heads to the great cheesy north.