“An ultrarunner’s mind is what matters more than anything.”
I was intrigued to read more about ultrarunning, from an accomplished racer. Many people think that running a marathon is a mammoth achievement. But that’s only 26.2 miles. Ultrarunners do 50k runs, they do 50 mile races, they go head-to-head in competitions that span 100 miles….and more. And they even compete against each other in 24 hour races – round and round a track for 24 hours. Read more
This is my first Barbara Kingsolver novel, and she is now at the top of my favorites list. She is a magnificent story teller, and I really feel like I could just listen to her stories for hours and hours, for days and days on end. She picks away at the essence of the human experience, all without any need to announce it or explicitly tell us that she’s exploring the deeper meaning of it all. She just tells stories that unearth the treasures of our existence. Read more
“Everything that seems empty is full of the angels of God.” – St. Hilary, fourth-century Bishop
I’ve got deep family ties to South Dakota, so I decided to explore the state through the eyes of an acclaimed writer and fellow contemplative and mystic. Kathleen Norris moved to South Dakota from the city, after she inherited her grandparents home. Her reflections on her home state are deeply wise as well as folksy. The land is in her blood, and reading her book is a privileged opportunity to understand the deeply holy nature of the place. Read more
Reviews of The Great Gatsby talk about how it captures the spirit of the jazz age. I think it is better to say it captures the spirit of America, a people striving for a survival and a sense of purpose within a system of class. But deeper still, The Great Gatsby, like the American story, like all human stories, is ultimately about love and wonder. Is there a deeper mystery to existence than what we find in the brute and harsh economic gears? And how can we find some sort of love when our own sense of identity is wrapped up in the American mythology of rags-to-riches? Read more
Alice Walker wrote The Color Purple (a Pulitzer Prize winner) to convey her own journey from the “religious to the spiritual.” The novel reads like a spiritual journey, a deeply human narrative, set in the context of the oppressive weight of racism and the abuse of male domination. The story gradually moves from brutal and harsh to redemptive. Read more
Having read a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., I wanted to explore the other current in 1960s movement for African American freedom. While MLK represented an attempt to work within the system to reform the U.S. democracy, Malcolm X spoke to a different spirit. Malcolm was an expert on the psychological damage to the black man’s self esteem, inflicted by hundreds of years of racism and slavery. It would take more than civil rights legislation, jobs, etc. to really save the black man, and traditional black organizations could not do what needed to be done. In fact, for a good deal of Malcolm’s life, he advocated for a separation of blacks from white society. Read more
“Truly, if someone were to renounce a kingdom or the whole world while still holding on to themselves, then they would have renounced nothing at all. And indeed, if someone renounces themselves, then whatever they might keep, whether it be a kingdom or honour or whatever it may be, they will still have renounced all things.” – Meister Eckhart, The Talks of Instruction
Note on photo: Glacier Bay National Park, summer 2012
“In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost.” – Dante Alighieri
Note on photo: Taken about a week ago on a hike along the Bartlett River. It is a remote and refreshing hike, where I usually have at least one bear sighting.
Here in Alaska, the king salmon runs are low, forcing emergency fishing closures for commercial fishing, sport fishing, and perhaps most controversially, closures for subsistence fishing. Many villagers, mostly Alaskan natives, are defying the closure order and fishing anyway. Alaska State Troopers were sent in to seize fish and even to seize nets, leading to some very ugly YouTube footage of white troopers seizing the subsistence food of natives and other small villagers.
Fishing politics is extremely complex, and it is a very intense issue here in Alaska. I do know, however, that without government regulation, the fish would have been wiped out long ago. Commercial fisherman want longer openings and bigger catches, sport fisherman want access to rivers, and many natives and other villagers survive largely due to what they can fish from the waters. It’s difficult not to get the feeling that big money interests have encroached on the ability of subsistence fishing, and it is difficult for me to support the seizure of fish and nets of villagers. Frankly, I find it appalling.
Read more at Alaska Dispatch: State Officials Try to Contain Western Alaska Salmon Revolt
“You save the world when you save yourself.” – Stephen Mitchell, commentary in his Second Book of the Tao
“If I were permitted to write all the ballads I need not care who makes the laws of the nation.” – Andrew Fletcher
“There are men whom nothing but a physical punishment will bring to reason, and with these we shall have to deal at some time in our lives. A lady is insulted or annoyed by an unwieldy bargee, or an importunate and dishonest cabman. One well-dealt blow settles the whole matter….A man therefore, whether he aspires to be a gentleman or not, should learn to box….There are but few rules for it, and those are suggested by common sense. Strike out, strike straight, strike suddenly; keep one arm to guard, and punish with the other. Two gentlemen never fight; the art of boxing is brought into use in punishing a stronger and more imprudent man of a class beneath your own.” — 1859 British author of The Habits of a Good Society, cited on p. 82 of Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature.