All posts tagged “culture

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Create Dangerously

In a collection of essays called Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, the French philosopher and journalist Albert Camus writes, “Art cannot be a monologue. We are on the high seas. The artist, like everyone else, must bend to his oar, without dying if possible.”

119938730Art and death are two things that have shaped the life and writing of the acclaimed Haitian novelist Edwidge Danticat, whose book Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work borrows its title from Camus.

Though Danticat emigrated to the United States with her family as a child, and while she was not among those in Haiti at the time of the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, the gravity of it is something she carries with her every day. Just as it has done for so many others in the Haitian diaspora, the earthquake’s destruction has come to define her.

During Haiti’s earlier era of prolonged dictatorships—a state of affairs that led many Haitians like Danticat to flee—artists, authors, and other cultural “creators” were often silenced and killed. In an especially poignant passage in Create Dangerously, Danticat writes:

Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them. Coming from where I come from, with the history I have—having spent the first twelve years of my life under both dictatorships of Papa Doc and his son, Jean-Claude—this is what I’ve always seen as the unifying principle among all writers… Somewhere, if not now, then maybe years in the future, a future that we may have yet to dream of, someone may risk his or her life to read us. Somewhere, if not now, then maybe years in the future, we may also save someone’s life, because they have given us a passport, making us honorary citizens of their culture.

For more from Danticat on the “dangerous” creative contributions of her fellow Haitians, see this talk she gave at University of California Santa Barbara in 2004, several years prior to the earthquake.

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Repaso: June 6, 2014

+ David Brooks via Fr. Chris Schutte: “The purpose of life is not to find yourself; it’s to lose yourself.”

+ Mark Galli: “But the more I get to know myself, the more I see layers and layers of mixed motives.”

+ Last weekend Katie and I enjoyed a mini-vacation in southern California. We read some books, ate some food, and spent good quality time with her side of the family. I especially enjoyed a little excursion to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, the largest of the historic California Missions.

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+ I agree with Brian Brenberg here: “Flourishing societies need talented people in all sorts of fields—nonprofit and for-profit alike.”

+ Dayo Olopade in The Atlantic: “The West now finds itself in the unfamiliar position of looking to Africa for technological inspiration.”

+ What nonprofits need to do in order to harness the power of narrative and networks for social impact.

+ 50 years ago this week, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech at ASU right here in Tempe. The audio recording is here.

+ These newly discovered photos taken in Tiananmen Square 25 years ago—in the days leading up to the massacre—are pretty incredible.

+ I appreciated this clip from David Powlison of CCEF on the spiritual resources in the General Thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer.

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Repaso: May 23, 2014

+ Stephen Woodworth meets his neighbors in NPR’s Borderland.

+ Things started to look up for the D-backs a little bit over the past week. There was of course the announcement that the legendary Tony La Russa would be joining the club as Chief Baseball Officer. Then on Saturday night, against the hated Dodgers, the team scored 18 runs in a blowout win. Best of all, Senator John McCain celebrated one of Goldy’s home runs this way.

+ An interesting conversation in this video between James K.A. Smith and Jacob Thielman of Eerdmans Books, about Smith’s new book, How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor.

+ Entrepreneurship is dead. Long live entrepreneurship.

+ Congratulations to Diane Humetewa of Arizona on becoming the first Native American woman confirmed as a federal judge.

+ The skyline of Tempe is changing.

+ My review of Nina Munk’s book The Idealist is coming soon, but in the meantime here is Bill Gates’ take on it.

+ Studies show that Latin America is the happiest region of the world. In other words, it is the region where Pharrell Williams has exerted his greatest influence. Right?

+ This SkyCam video of Guatemala City is a tad predictable in what it includes and omits, but overall I dig it.

+ Meanwhile, also in Guatemala City, there’s a new ad campaign to end “address discrimination” in the city’s Zone 18.

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Repaso: May 16, 2014

+ During grad school I spent a fair amount of time on Amtrak trains in and near Philadelphia. As magical as railways sometimes are, the environs directly adjacent to railroad tracks often can be fairly dismal. With that in mind, I welcome this effort to beautify things in Philly.


+ W. David O. Taylor is one of the more thoughtful artist-theologians I know about, and I love his new post, Liturgical Art on a Mission. In it he references a fascinating article in American Craft Magazine, which includes a photo essay of worship spaces with really beautiful art and architecture.

+ An upcoming Ernest Hemingway biopic will be the first Hollywood film shot in Cuba in 45 years.

+ We unveiled Lemonade International’s newly articulated mission statement and core values this week. Check out this announcement if you’d like.

+ John J. Thompson reviews an album in which hipster artists cover Bob Dylan’s least hip decade. You can stream said album in its entirety here.

+ Meanwhile, news broke this week about Bob Dylan’s new album coming out this year, including this uncharacteristic cover of a Frank Sinatra number.


+ In a story that repeats itself all over, Christians who flee one place end up revitalizing the church somewhere else.

+ “World-reforming Calvinism is finding its followers… through evidence-based practice.”

+ The beer wars are escalating in Guatemala.

+ Future-oriented NGOs see private sector as a partner for scaled impact, not as a mere piggy bank.

+ Arizona is among the least charitable states in the country. The most charitable states might surprise you.

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Repaso: May 9, 2014

+ “I’ve been to La Guardia and I’ve been to Guatemala, and if I were Guatemala, I’d sue for defamation.”

+ When Justin met Francis.

+ Miroslav Volf’s “modest proposal” for the reintegration of religion in higher education.

+ I owe a lot to Twitter. But are its best days behind it?

+ An excerpt from Ben Myers’ helpful guide on singing in church: “The visitor who sings like a Pentecostal during a Presbyterian service will run the risk of being escorted from the premises and given a referral to a clinical psychologist; while the one who sings like a Presbyterian during a Pentecostal service will be regarded as an infidel and may therefore become a target of Friendship Evangelism.”

+ Cities are learning that planting trees saves dollars and lives.

+ Bob Dylan is famously evasive in interviews, but sometimes interviewers are just oblivious to the obvious.

+ This interview with Andrew White, an Anglican vicar in Baghdad, is a must read.