My attention has been away from this blog for a while, so I thought it might be interesting to collect some links to what I’ve been working on. Over at Faith, Fern, and Compass, for example, I’ve contributed a couple of articles that might be of interest to you:
The Sea in the Skull
Theologians and scientists agree: ritual is good for the human soul. But I don’t like ritual much. It’s probably my Zen upbringing. If ritual is poetry in the realm of acts, then perhaps my poetic-action aesthetic is too used to the haiku or koan: short, unrehearsed, improvised, intentionally subversive. But one thing I do like about ritual is the creation of a sacred space. This is about how I create a sacred space without ritual.
The Land’s Religion: Hold Her In Your Heart
Those of us of European descent who don’t live in Europe — who live, in fact, in landscapes conquered or annexed by our ancestors — do not have a simple relationship with the earth we live on… We are like a branch grafted onto the wrong tree, an organ transplanted into another body. We’re aliens in our own homes. But we cannot go back where we came from; we’d be aliens there, too. There is nowhere in the world that we really belong. So what should our relationship be?
Fun Podcast Episodes
I also want to point you toward some of our recent podcast episodes; we’ve had such a blast making these. (Note that some of these episodes are only available to pro members).
Space, Place, and Sacred Paradox
The first of a sort of two-parter, in which we talk about what it means for a space to be ‘sacred’ if the whole world is holy. We draw parallels with art and the philosophy of aesthetics, and talk about “framing” the spiritual aspects of the ordinary world. What does it mean to say that “everything is sacred”? How does our relationship change when we transform space into place?
Shrines of the Living Land
In this second part, we explore space, place and sacred paradox by looking at the religious symbolism and themes of Chinese landscape painting. Taoist themes of immortality, wise innocence, active non-action and the harmony of the natural world are expressed in the wild mountainous landscapes of artists through the centuries.
The Nature of Placemaking
We check out the many amazing ways that people all over the world are embracing “green space” through architecture, infrastructure and landscaping, inviting the natural world back into our homes and businesses as a vital part of our efforts to live sustainably. In our Pro Extension, we ponder the implications of granting legal rights to rivers and forests; plus, we examine the “religious” aspect of the debate over hydro-fracking.
We explore the infinitely awe-inspiring natural world with a reading of Alison’s article, “The Seven Wonders of the Natural World in Your Own Backyard.” Then I sit down for a fascinating, wide-ranging interview with Brian McLaren, an influential pastor, speaker and author who understands nature’s spiritual dimension and its essential role in the future of Christianity, humanity, and the world. Finally, for our Pro extension, I read Alison’s bedtime story about King Arthur’s search for the mightiest huntsman who ever lived — the Tale of Mabon.
By the way, the interview with Brian McLaren was so much fun — he’s an incredibly nice person and extremely easy to talk to! Full disclosure: we were able to get some time with him because he’s great friends with my aunt Melanie, who was a member of his congregation for years. And speaking of Melanie (who was a National Director of the Sierra Club), she sat for an interview with us as well, where she talked about green spirituality and the changing face of environmentalism. (She’s retired from all that now, and has started an awesome blog about writing and the spiritual life.)
Remember my novel, Mere America? It’s only partly finished, and quite frankly I’ve hit a solid writer’s block on it. (The first part, First Nations is still available for 99 cents as an ebook, and continues to sell reasonably well considering I haven’t promoted it at all! Check it out — I will finish it eventually, and the first part largely stands alone.) I have the next few sections roughly sketched out, and I even wrote about 90% of the second part (“The Withered Hand”), but after thinking about it I realized most of what I’d written would have to be thrown away. I’ve decided to set it aside while I work on other projects for a while.
So what am I working on? Well, I’ve been wanting to write something steampunk for some time; and I’ve had a young-adult sci-fi novel sitting there — finished, but deeply flawed, waiting for its revisions… and there was a bright spark when those ideas came together. I sat down and got to work, and characters and situations just poured out. So…
So yes, I’m working on a young adult steampunk novel! The working title is The Athenium Chronicles, Book I: Leviathan. In which Amy Milton, an orphaned girl with strange powers she cannot control, is abducted to the Athenium: a remote, secret school, where she must succeed — or be driven mad.
Fun for the whole family! (Steampunk often flirts with the edge of horror, and this will be no exception — though honestly my stomach for horror isn’t particularly strong, so I’ll be handling it with a very light, humorous touch.) Over on my writing blog, A Skein of Words, I’ll be posting more about this as I work on it. It’s going to be a blast!
Finally: Alison and I visited the Oregon coast last month, and it was just stunning. Here’s a taste, and a link to a collection of Alison’s pictures over on her blog. Enjoy.