Friday, March 26, 2010

Green Bible

I ended up sitting in the car for an extra ten minutes this morning listening to an interview with Dr. Matthew Sleeth, who has written several books discussing how the Bible focuses on caring for the earth. It's wonderful to hear people talking about how intimately connected being a Christian and caring for the environment are--I'd like to read his book! Find his website here, or read the write-up from his website about his new book The Gospel According to Earth below:

"As an emergency room doctor, Matthew Sleeth saw a disturbing increase in asthma, autoimmune diseases, cancers, and other environmentally related health issues. Although he considered himself an environmentalist, he lacked the commitment to do anything about it. One slow night in the ER, Sleeth picked up a Gideon's Bible in the waiting room. Although raised in a Christian home, he had long ago abandoned his childhood beliefs. Reading the gospels that night, Sleeth became a Christian, and to his shock, he began to uncover in the Scriptures an enormous wealth of environmental answers that he had been seeking. As a result, his family took an account of their lifestyle, drastically reduced their reliance on electricity and fossil fuels, and began sharing their inspirational journey with others. Here, Sleeth invites you on his family's journey as they realize that one cannot be a Christian without recognizing the Bible's call to care for God's creation.

"From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is filled with instructions on how we can demonstrate our love for the Creator by caring for the earth. Sleeth leads us on a highly creative journey through Scripture, visiting some of the most important characters in the Bible and discovering what they can teach us about issues such as stewardship, caring for our neighbors, and pollution. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden teach us the importance of physical work in relation to discovering fulfillment and a sense of human purpose, the prophet Daniel calls us to question our dietary habits, and the story of Noah addresses key issues for life on earth: how do we relate to the Creator, to others in the human community, and to the rest of the natural world? With passion and faith, Sleeth provides a new green lens through which we can read the Bible to discover answers to our biggest questions about the environment and how to care for it."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

spring has sprung!

Over the last week and a half in Menomonie, we've had 4 days that hit 60. I've seen a crocus or two, and the daffodils are up 4 inches. But, that's not the sign of spring around here. I'm now finally free to say it's spring, because

the clunker has gone through the ice!

Every winter the Lion's club parks an old car ("the Lions clunker"), stripped of seats and engine, etc., out on the ice. I hear they take bets on when it sinks through, but you have to be a member or know someone for that. Yesterday at 6 PM the car's tires had sunken in, and this morning at 7 AM it was gone. Hurrah! (They'll haul it out and use it again next year.)

So, let spring begin!

Speaking of, Govin's farm in Menomonie, which opens up its barn to visitors who want to see the darling new lambs, etc., just had goats born last night. Apparently, the kids were too weak to nurse that first night, but they still were trying to climb up the ramp in their pen. Adventurous...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

a little Lenten contemplation

The story of the final hours leading up to Jesus’ death (the Passion of Christ) is nearly always told as a story of suffering and sacrifice, of what Jesus allowed to happen to him, since arguably he had the power to prevent be handed over from mob to mock trial to mob to the cross. Our focus during Lent is encouraged to be on how Christ suffered for us and the world and how through all of that, sin was forgiven.

But, what if we looked at it the opposite way? What if we considered what Christ did? How even those last few hours extended what he had always been doing?

In the last few hours, he
• Shared a communal meal with the friend (Judas) who would betray him
• Prayed with others, including the friend (Peter) he knew who would deny him
• Prevented violence (rebuked Peter for cutting off a guy’s ear)
• Healed one of the soldiers out to arrest him (put the ear back on)
• Resisted the desire to fight back or even label the slander for what it was
• Told the truth
• Saved Barabbas’s life dying in his place
• Forgave a convict sentenced to death
• Prayed for the forgiveness of the world

Barabbas's story blows me away. Here is a man who was part of an insurrection, a violent attempt at freedom from the Romans. Many of the Jews were hoping Jesus would lead a rebellion, too, that his "new kingdom" went only to the extent of "Jewish land without Roman occupation." Here is a man fighting to free his people, jailed, sentenced to death...whose life is literally saved when the crowd decides to release him instead of Judas. Yet another recipient of Jesus' grace. And I love the name: "bar" (or ben) = son, "abbas" = daddy.

I have a poem in his voice in my chapbook. I'll post it here soon.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

creative advertising, continued

My friend Swati Avasti had her first young adult novel _Split_ come out today. Check out her description of book release day here.

And, as promised, here are pictures of my display at the Menomonie Market Co-op. :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

creative advertising

I am proud to announce that I am the Artist of the Month at the Menomonie Market Co-Op. When you first walk in, just over the sample table and next to the produce aisle, you will find a series of seven original photo-and-poem pairings, mounted on lovely colored paper purchased at the local art store. It was a major project last week; hopefully it will sell some chapbooks (or posters!).

Here's what's fun about this town. I was trying to find flat thumb tacks for hanging my posters. The down town art store was out. I walked into the bead store down the street, who told me, as I feared, that my only in-town options were Walmart or K-mart. Another woman in the store told me to try an office supply store: clearly she was not from town, as the nearest non-Walmart office supply store is almost 30 miles away. But HERE's what's fun: as I was hanging the posters in the co-op, the woman from the bead store walked in and said "so that's why you needed the tacks." And the man from the art store said he'd look for my work--it's just down the street, after all. Hurrah for small down town where people talk to each other.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


It’s March, and here that means snow on the ground, 12 degrees when the sun is down and high 30s by mid-afternoon. I am beginning to remember spring. Not that I ever entirely forgot about its existence, at least not the concept, but now I remember what it feels like. Specifically
• Birds. The way the two-note whistle of the cardinal interrupts whatever you are doing and makes you suddenly look around.
• Puddles. The big ones that block the side walks, forcing you to walk on the muddy banks of the sidewalk.
• Puddles, freezing and melting. The feel of a huge ice block under your feet when it has spent the whole day considering melting, at the top sheet of ice, just barely thick enough to support your weight, slides. How my car leaves frozen tire tracks in the parking lot ice.
• The sun. How it can beam you directly in the eyes, and not just because it’s bouncing off snow. How warm it is. How bright the windows are at certain times of day. Unlike in January, a bright blue sky does not mean it’ll be -20 out anymore.
• The sun, with us longer. It is already bright when I wake at six. I had forgotten that. For days I was confused that I was coming home at 5:15 and it still looked like day out. I thought, “how am I supposed to cocoon myself when it’s still day out?” I’m not out of my cocoon yet.
• 30-degree swing. There will be a point in spring where we wear coats only in the early morning and at night. Where I can tell whether I was last in the car in morning or afternoon based on whether my dial is set to hot or cold air.
We’re not quite to spring yet. The Lion Club’s clunker is still out on the ice, as are many people’s ice houses. We’ll probably get another snow storm or three. But after so much winter, I can remember spring. And that is the first step.

Word Count
February’s word count comes to 3,286, which is about 13 pages. A low total for the month, but we’re into revision rather than creation now. I deleted about as many pages. A more important measure at this stage is page number: how far have I gotten in the book? The first 20 pages are solid, and the beginning was one of the places that needed work. Twenty pages is about 10% of the novel, I rate, again, that I hope to speed up. Hopefully this month, if I can ever find my way out from under this pile of grading. 100 students is an overwhelming number when you teach writing(or, possibly, ever).