1. Flannery O’Connor and her money
When one thinks of the great American artists of the twentieth century, whether painters or poets or novelists or musicians, one would do well to include Flannery O’Connor. And though we like to romanticize the lives of creative geniuses like her, even Flannery O’Connor had to figure out a way to pay the bills. The Billfold sheds some light on how she “did money”:
O’Connor didn’t beat around the bush in her first letter to her first agent, Elizabeth McKee: “I am writing you in my vague and slack season and mainly because I am being impressed just now with the money I am not making by having stories in such places as American Letters.” In her second letter, O’Connor says that the book she’s working on (which would become Wise Blood) would be a year in coming. “I will need an advance for that year,” she writes. At this point in O’Connor’s career, she was certainly a promising writer—a graduate of the University of Iowa’s prestigious creative writing graduate program and winner of the Rinehart-Iowa Fiction Award, she’d even published a few short stories—but here she is straight up asking her brand-new agent to make it rain, please and thank you, and lo, it comes to pass!
2. The Buta Seminary Martyrs
The Work of the People is at it again with another stirring, emotional video interview, this time with someone most of us don’t know—a priest from Burundi—telling a story few of us have ever heard. But it’s a beautiful picture of the gospel:
In the morning of April 30th, 1977, when the civil war in Burundi was at its climax, A group of armed rebels carried out an attack on Buta Seminary. When the rebels entered the seminary grounds, they ordered the students to separate by ethnicity so they could kill the group they considered to be their enemies. The students refused to separate, saying that they were all sons of God. After three futile attempts to make them separate, the rebels opened fire on all the students, killing forty and wounding others. This is an interview with Father Zacharie Bukuru, who was principal of Buta Seminary at the time of the massacre.
3. Poverty and violence are linked
Tom Murphy (@viewfromthecave), an aid and development blogger worth following, met with Gary Haugen (@GaryHaugen) of IJM in New York this week. They talked about the connection between poverty and violence:
Haugen is in part promoting his book that comes out in February, The Locust Effect, but he is careful to say that he does not necessarily have the answers. He makes the case that it is largely a problem of the state, but one that takes investment. Times Square, he points out, was not such a great place to visit only a few decades ago. It thrives today in part because of security… “We need to do a lot more experimentation,” he says. “We need to have a lot more investment in this work, because it’s undermining the other investments we are making.” He hopes that by sounding the alarm to the problem of violence, the investments and pledges made at the Clinton Global Initiative can reach their full potential.
4. The love of God, the love of learning
Thanks to John Mulholland of the Charles Malik Society for Redeeming Reason for sharing the text of a commencement address given by Nicholas Wolterstoff a number of years ago at the Institute for Christian Studies, an interdisciplinary graduate school in Toronto rooted in the Dutch Reformed tradition. Consider this a “conversation partner” for the letter to incoming freshmen by Stanley Hauerwas (of the Anabaptist tradition) that I shared last week. Here’s Wolterstorff near the end of his address:
We in the Reformed tradition talk easily about duties, mandates, obligations, laws, obedience, and the like; we don’t talk easily about love. So I have taken this occasion to talk about what we do not talk easily about—love, specifically, love of learning. When learning goes well, the scholar does it for the love of it—just as the farmer farms for the love of it and the woodworker works wood for the love of it. I have suggested that love of learning takes two forms, the love of producing worthy works of scholarship and the love of understanding, with the latter being the point of the former. And I have set before you a vision of love of understanding as being a love of discerning the intelligence, the imagination, and the love that are manifested in what God and one’s fellow human beings have made.
1. Hymns jubilee
In celebration of seven years of music-making (specifically, “making hymns accessible and known again”), Page CXVI is giving away its entire catalog of 74 songs throughout the month of March. It’s great stuff.
3. Earning a voice
Ever wonder what it would be like to eavesdrop on a conversation between brilliant philosophers like James K.A. Smith and Nicholas Wolterstorff? Okay, unless you’re a nerd, maybe you haven’t. But in the latest edition of Comment, they discuss how the field of philosophy has changed in recent decades, and how Christians have earned a voice in academia. It’s really interesting:
What happened in my field of philosophy was that positivism collapsed… The big programs in contemporary philosophy had all been gatekeepers: the positivists were saying that one can’t even talk about God, the ordinary language people were worrying whether language is being used improperly when we talk about God, and so forth. The collapse of the big gatekeeper programs meant that there was nobody around anymore who was saying, not with any plausibility, anyway, that it’s impossible to make judgments about God, impossible to talk about God, etc. All of those programs collapsed. They did not collapse because of what they said about the impossibility of religious/theological language; they collapsed for other reasons. What this collapse meant was that religious/theological discourse was now open.
4. Bono at TED
Last fall the U2 frontman made some waves at a tech conference when he admitted his “humbling” discovery that business and entrepreneurship have a crucial role to play in poverty alleviation. “The strongest and loudest voice with moral punch [in Africa] at the moment,” he said, “is a nerd.” He’s now taken his “factivist” tour to TED2013. The video hasn’t been posted yet, apparently, but here’s a snippet from the TED blog:
Bono’s passion: countering what Nelson Mandela refers to as “that most awful offense to humanity, extreme poverty.” His weapon of choice? Facts. “Forget the rock opera, forget the bombast, my usual tricks,” he says. “The only thing singing today will be the facts. I have truly embraced my inner nerd. Exit the rock star.” He removes his trademark sunglasses. “Enter the evidence-based activist.” He puts his glasses back on upside down. Bono is now a “factivist.” And he has the infographic-filled slides to prove it.