With Bruce Springsteen in the country at present (although, sadly, I’m not going to one of his concerts) I thought it would be good to feature an excellent and thoughtful interview with Springsteen. The interviewer is Marc Maron, and the audio was released 2nd January 2017.
This is a YouTube recording of the audio.
“…Two Jersey guys hanging out, talking about dads, depression, fear, fulfillment and the future. Bruce tells Marc how and why he constructed "Bruce Springsteen" and what he's learned about the struggle we all go through to become who we really are.”
The downloadable podcast can be found here.
Today, a post in its entirety from Chris Erdman (Thanks Chris. His blog can be found here). I reminded me of a conversation with good friends a couple of weeks ago. One of those friends was Gareth Higgins, and one of his contributions to the conversation included talking about “Porch circles…” In “Porch Circles” a small group gathers for 90-minutes around food and four questions:
What's most alive in me?
How could my life be better?
What opportunities have I had in the past week to embody my purpose to serve the common good?
How can we help each other?
More from what Gareth’s up to in my next post:
And here’s Chris:
“…Feeling passionate but alone? Here's a way to contribute to the common good
Circles of Strength are small, intentional gatherings of people drawn together by a desire to co-create the kind of world we wish to live in. We gather around two essential goals:
We identify our desires to improve our world, and together, we grow our sense of strength so we can make a difference.
Around us, millions of Americans are rising up to meet the environmental, social, and political challenges of the 21st century.
Rather than feeling disempowered or disillusioned, people like us want to do something useful to transcend barriers, overcome hostilities, and create programs, products, movements and opportunities that contribute to the common good in our neighborhoods, cities, nation, and around the planet.
Circles of Strength are small gatherings of 3 or more people (no more than 5). They are intentional in that they meet at least every other week for at least an hour to check in with each other around a series of questions like:
What am I feeling passionate about? And why?
What is a problem or injustice I cannot allow to remain unchallenged?
What would I like to do about it?
What gifts do I have to address it?
What gets in the way or holds me back?
What progress have I made since we last met?
What do I need to take the next step?
Circles don’t need a trained leader, but they do need a common commitment from each other to listen more than give advice, and to help others find their passion. Through meeting together and talking about our desires for a better world, we help foster accountability, hope, and follow-through. (And when we fail or repeatedly bang into walls, we help each other find new direction.)
Find a few other people, create a circle, and begin to change your world.”
This post follows on from my most recent one to this point. The School of Lifeis committed to developing emotional intelligence. It was founded by Philosopher Alain de Botton. I have been aware of the school through their book series, which have included a wide range of titles.
What I discovered yesterday evening was their YouTube channel ("How to Live" / see short introductory video here) and the wide-range of short-educational films they've produced on a really large range of subjects.
So, given that yesterday was marketer-invented Valentines Day, I decided to illustrate their film-style by posting their short educational film entitled: How Romanticism Ruined Love. I also include a link to a paper of the same title here.
If Philosophy is more your interest you can check out a short film on Michel Foucault, or this one on Jacques Derrida.
“What if the first question we asked on a date were, “How are you crazy? I’m crazy like this”? Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton’s essay “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” was, amazingly, the most-read article in The New York Times in the news-drenched year of 2016. As people and as a culture, he says, we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. How might our relationships be different — and better — if we understood that the real work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after?”
You’ll find the podcast here. The NY Times article can be found online here. I also recommend Susan Quilliam’s How to Find a Partner (from The School of Life series. It has useful and interesting insights on the basis of relational love,whether you're in an established relationship, or looking for one)
I’ve been listening to Bangladeshi-born Australian Doctor/Psychiatrist Tanveer Ahmed quite a bit this year. He’s a young man who’s had his fair share of controversy (plagiarism), but to me he remains a fascinating and oftentimes compelling commentator (for some he will be controversial or just plain wrong in his assessment) on what is happening in Australian culture, and as a corollary, with men. I’ve never been much inclined to gather around my self people and commentators who will affirm what I already think. I like to be stretched intellectually.
One of the small delights of a New Year is wondering about who my conversation partners might be over the coming year. But, when I say “conversation partners”, I’m not just talking about the people I might physically talk with, I’m also thinking about the books I’ll read (or listen to), the films I’ll watch, and the online interviews and conversations I will listen to.
I also took some time to review all the conversations I listened to on On Being with Krista Tippett. Listening in on her conversations has been a practice of mine since her early days on Speaking of Faith, and the range and depth has been such a gift.
Here are my Top 7 conversations from her show over the course of 2016. They’re not in any order, other than they’re the seven conversations that have stayed with me, and particularly nourished my own journey and exploration.
“On Being - Taking up the big questions of meaning with scientists and theologians, artists and teachers — some you know and others you'll love to meet.”
I have reflected much on politics / ethics over the course of 2016. Avoiding politics has been nigh on impossible, with ISIS, Brexit, the US Primaries and Presidential Election, and of course the resignation of our own Prime Minister. I’ve read and thought more about politics and ethics (and the consequences of politicking and political-ethical decision-making) this year than in any other year. I’ve listened for alternative perspectives across a wide spectrum of disciplines, and I’ve mined the past for insights and hopefully wisdom. Commentators (and commentary) included: ABC Radio National show The Minefield (here); ABC Religion and Ethics; Luke Bretherton; John Milbank; Slavoj Zizek; Stanley Hauerwas; Rowan Williams; and a whole host of diverse others including Susan Sontag, Rebecca Solnit, and Don Watson in his thought-provoking essay Enemy Within: American Politics in the Age of Trump (see the comments section attaching to this post); Robert Manne; A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Era of Trump; Noam Chomsky; Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. I’ve read numerous articles including this recent one (if you can still call “November 2016” recent / Things don't only get better: why the working class fell out of love with Labour, a talk by Maurice Glasman).
Glasman ends with these lines:
“…The identity crisis that confronts us is generated by this breakdown of relationships and of our ideology. We have lost our ability to understand the world and act within it with predictable results. For many people the world has gone mad and no longer makes any sense. We need to understand where and why we went wrong, in being far too naïve in our understanding of the demonic power of capitalism, and far too sanguine in its effects on the working poor. Human beings are not commodities and free movement treated them as just that…As we know that things don’t only get better we can prepare for the hard work in the decade ahead. To renew our tradition and ideology around the centrality of family, place and work. To renew our covenant with the working poor and build a coalition that can defeat fascism, resist the domination of capitalism, and deepen our democratic way of life. That is why I believe that the past shapes the future that tradition mediates the merciless demands of modernity, and why I believe that our best days lie ahead of us.”
I hope he’s right about our best days lying ahead.
In her July 2016 newsletter NZ author Joy Cowley announced her latest publication:
“…A very different book, newly launched is a collection of spiritual reflections for couples. It is called Made for Love is without gender and is especially for people whose love is outside tradition. I was asked to write this book by a man who produced some alarming figures. In 2012 over 350 gay men committed suicide in New Zealand, many of them young men who had experienced discrimination and bullying. At an early stage in the writing I realised this book wasn't just for gay people, but for all couples living a commitment of love. "Made for Love" has fine art work by Aucklander Miranda Brown and is being published by Pleroma Press in Otane, Hawkes Bay.”
Made for Love: Spiritual Reflections for Couples is available from Pleroma Press in New Zealand. Also available is her small format gem, Notes to a Friend. Published in 2013 it is a series of poetic 'letters' (Dear friend...) written around a number of themes including, devotion. simplicity, discipline etc.
It was reviewed in a recent edition of NZ Independent Catholic publication, Tui Motu. You’ll find the review here. And my own reflection is that it’s a really lyrical and thought-provoking collection of reflections, which I will dip into often.