:::this is the way the world ends:::

Month: September 2007


I have been contemplating this place and time in life–being 33. It is an interesting but hard to define stage. I have particularly been trying to explore the concept of the Jesus Year, as Jesus was supposedly 33 for the bulk of his ministry, betrayal, and death. The concept is that by the age of 33, you should have done something big–perhaps not have saved us all from sin and hell, mind you, but something large in terms of a contribution. Do we die a metaphorical death in this year? And if so, what is on the other side? What does it mean to contribute something, and something big or important, by this age? I’ve been trying to think through this a bit, and write about it in some way as a project.

What does the Jesus Year hold for you, and what do you make of this idea generally, and in terms of your own lives?

For me, I’m interested in finding larger struggles beyond myself, and maybe that’s ultimately what one can do that lives up to, in part, the example of Jesus. And yet. Here, this year, I’ve been given everything–a good life, companionship, good work, and even a more flexible schedule so that I can teach this fall (something I’ve wanted for a long time) and so that I can write (something I’ve always wanted). Why does this still seem like it falls short? Why are my struggles still primarily with myself? Is this part of the experience of being 33, as a sort of crossroads year? A year in which I know many of my peers are far more successful in terms of what the culture says is successful? Why is it that I still can’t eat right, exercise right, balance my life? Maybe the Jesus Year is the year we are supposed to compare ourselves to Jesus, yes, but really what we do is compare ourselves to everyone else?

But more generally, does this stage of life have any common or universal traits among the culture at large? Are most people already married? already married and divorced? having children? getting higher promotions? running for office? changing jobs? moving? taking up some cause?

I thought you would all be interested in this, seeing as, for a little while longer, at least, we’re all 33, our high school and college classmates are, most of them, 33, and I suspect several of our friends, cousins, and others around us are 33. And we haven’t had a larger question posed lately, so it seems like a good time. Any thoughts?

I Miss Music Thursday

Alright, I admit it. I was the one to complain about an inundation of music, but I think I can fairly say I’m ready for another hit. Music Thursday was a nice constant, even if it felt a bit excessive at times. I put a track by a band named Beirut on a cd for J.E. a while back. They have a new one out that I’ve been enjoying called The Flying Club Cup. Maybe a track or two from that would be nice to post. It is, though, a mood album so it might be nice for some of you to hear the whole thing. It has some great instrumentation, though people tend to love or hate his voice. Anyway, Toby, when you feel fully appreciated again… feel free to do the honors. Thanks.

Madeleine L’Engle 1918-2007

Madeleine L’Engle, author of more than sixty books ranging from religion and philosophy to the beloved “Wrinkle in Time” series, died last week. She was an artist in residency at St. John the Divine while Sara and I were in NY. It may be encouraging to note that “A Wrinkle in Time”, which has sold millions of copies, was rejected by 26 publishers before FSG took it on saying that she shouldn’t expect it to do well. Here’s the link to the Times article where you can read for yourself. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/08/books/07cnd-lengle.html?em&ex=1189483200&en=6085d935d8c5c173&ei=5087%0A

A Very Beautiful Book


I received my copy of Shaun Tan’s “The Arrival” in the mail today and “read” it. It’s a graphic novel told totally in pictures about an immigrant’s experience in a strange and fantastic “new world” where he tries to make a living to bring his family with him from their oppressed homeland. Tan’s drawings are exquisite and evocative. It’s one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever seen both because of the art and the beauty of the story. At a time when many people in this country do not want to welcome immigrants, this story seems to have “arrived” at just the right historical moment. I think all of you would really enjoy it, but I especially recommend it to Toby. I’ve been watching Tan’s career for some time now, but this book is sure to cement it. You can view a few images from the graphic novel at his website here: http://www.shauntan.net but in order to really get a sense of the amount of drawing and the consistency of quality you should get a hold of a copy. Anyone interested in illustration and visual storytelling will love it.

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