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Today’s entry is not an opinion piece but a hodge-podge of things I want to make sure our readers are aware of. One might even call most of these items commercials, but I can assure you they are commercials with pure intentions. We’ll be back to the regular blog tomorrow. In the meantime, do click on these links.
Have you listened to our poetry podcast? I am proud of it, in a non-seven deadly sins sort of way. I dabble in poetry by trying to write a poem now and then, but I do not consider myself a poet. I have met several poets and count one as a dear friend, and know that I am not wired the way they are. True poets, I believe, not only possess inspired abilities with language, they also have the ability to read other poetry and find enlightenment easily. That doesn’t happen with me. I muddle through when I read poems. Over the years I’ve discovered it helps to read poetry out loud, and it helps to read it more than once. Now a new way to enjoy poetry has emerged. Every Tuesday, our poetry editor Rose Postma not only gives us a couple of new poems, she also posts the poetry edition of our podcast.
Each episode runs about ten minutes and features three things: the poet reads the poem, Rose asks how the poet came to write it, and the poet reads the poem again. For me, there is a dramatic leap in appreciation between the first and second reading. I think you will enjoy this. I’m so excited about this I’ve been telling countless people, most of whom indulge me with sort of a disbelieving look. Please, please taste and see. Here’s a representative episode.
Last year, I posted about the first two documentary films by David Schock focusing on the life of A. J. Muste. Muste is arguably Hope College’s most interesting graduate. He was one of the 20th century’s tireless crusaders for peace and social justice. Films number three and four, “Welcoming the New Left” and “Say not the struggle naught availeth . . . ,“ fill in the rest of the story of Muste’s remarkable life and conclude with his death in 1967. These are PBS quality documentaries, very well-made and worthy of your time and attention. All four documentaries may be accessed here. When you visit the website where the films are posted, there is a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., that captures Muste’s legacy: “I would say unequivocally that the emphasis on nonviolent direct action in the civil rights movement is due more to A. J. than to anyone else in the country.”
I mentioned I dabble in poetry. Some a my dabblings were included in a recently published anthology called Busy Griefs, Raw Towns. The book was published by the independent bookseller Schuler Books and contains the work of 29 poets in response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Most but not all of the poets are from West Michigan. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to the International Rescue Committee to support continuing Ukraine relief efforts. My friend G. F. Korreck worked non-stop to make this happen, and I am very appreciative of his efforts. The first print run of the book has sold out, but more are being printed, and may be ordered by clicking here. Why not give poetry a chance and do something good in the process?
Jim Bratt set off a storm of comments with his “Stewing Over Synod” blog post on Friday, in true Jim Bratt fashion. I am glad people are engaged enough to comment, but noticed that some of the comments regarding Friday’s post have come pretty close to the line where we would not allow them. We won’t silence someone for disagreeing. Blog posts are supposed to generate conversation and disagreements are expected. But we will pull the plug on a comment that is more personal attack than disagreement. Let’s be civil, dear Reformed friends. Also—I was tickled to see the Reformed Journal called “CRC elite.” I am not quite sure I know what that means, but both Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell and myself, who are the editors of the Reformed Journal (in addition, Rose Postma, as previously mentioned, edits poetry, and Deb Van Duinen and Keith Starkenburg are our book review editors), are ordained in the Reformed Church in America—in my case for 34 years. We are hardly CRC. As for being elites–I was schlepping through the supermarket Saturday afternoon, thinking, “If this what elite feels like, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”
That’s it. I feel better. We will return to normal blog opinionating tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the collection of post-Roe prayers by women ordained in the CRC and RCA that we also published today.
Thanks for your note, Jeff, and I agree about the language of some of the comments…but would also say that it extends to the post itself. You’re the editor, and if you choose to keep insulting and inflammatory language in a post, don’t be surprised if, well, people feel insulted and get inflamed. Could have easily been avoided, unless insulting and inflaming was the point.
“Muste is arguably Hope College’s most interesting graduate”. That’s saying something considering that Sufjan Stevens graduated from Hope!
Nothing against Sufjan Stevens, but Jeff is right considering the sacrificial witness and moral courage of Muste, and the quiet influence of his witness. We were not worthy of him.
I don’t doubt it! I’m not super familiar with Muste, but I know a little bit about him through his influence on Bayard Rustin. Look forward to checking out the documentary!
Of course I am so grateful for your affirmations of poetry. The only places where I have said that I am a poet, and I am, are outside the United States. For over fifty years now, I have tried to restore what poetry actually is, but it feels like a lost cause except to those I work with. Students are still mostly taught that it’s only what Shelley, Dickinson, and Eliot wrote. They never find out that it’s written in their own language. They never meet Ross Gay, Lucy Shaw, Rossemerry Wahtola Trommer, William Stafford, Naomi Shihab Nye and and and And they are asked to lay the poem on the lab table and cut its insides to find out what it “really” means when contemporary poetry is primarily ontological, affirming the mystery of being itself and offering an enrichment and enlargement of the ways we perceive the world’s life. Yes we can see. But can we notice? Oh and I didn’t find Bratt offensive; however, the response was mean-spirited. Don’t worry; it was expected.
It is impossible for me to read your thoughts you share with all of us and not smile, let alone the occasional laugh… out loud! I try not to access this in public spaces. Thank you!