Monthly Archives: September 2009

Recommitting…

A few years ago I decided that I was going to stop beating myself up about Not Being A Writer and learn to love being a storyteller. On the whole that’s gone quite well, except that now and then I do actually think of something I’d like to say – and it’s become too easy to dismiss those thoughts because, after all, I’m not trying to be a writer any more.

William Stafford advises poets in Writing the Australian Crawl – when your work doesn’t meet your own standards, lower your standards. Seems like a plan to me. I’m going to try to write about what I’m thinking and reading, for my own edification…unliterary and unorganized thoughts…in short, a blog.

What I’m thinking today – the Revised Common Lectionary readings from the Hebrew scriptures for this winter look like a dim sum cart. A dab of this, a piece of that. I don’t know how to deal with this as a biblical storyteller. I like to work with big, demanding chunks of text. The word for the day: DISMAY.

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‘The Bible in the Public Square: Reading the Signs of the Times’ by Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, and Jonathan A. Draper, editors

This book has all the joys and all the frustrations of any collection of edited readings. It’s an exploration of Richard Horsley’s “empire” ideas with respect to scripture, as applied to the life of the church and the country in – generally – the Bush administration. There are 15 essays, so the reader can identify and go read more of the writers who appeal – and, similarly, feel no special requirement even to wade past the first few pages of the writers who don’t. Very peaceful.

The essays are perhaps more discursive than one might find in a journal, and it’s wonderful to hear what Warren Carter or Neil Elliot or Norman Gottwald is thinking and reading. I had to buy three more books after finishing this book (had to!), and I might have to buy a few more. I need me some more of that good Norman Gottwald stuff.

As a biblical storyteller, I find myself wishing again and again that I could tell stories to some of these scholars, that I could unsettle some of this textiness. Because I’m not a scholar myself, I can read a book like this to inform what stories I study, tell and teach – and how I tell them.

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