When I went to see Shane Claiborne speak at Lipscomb University last night he showed a clip from this film where a kid from Orange County, CA won $30,000+ and he sold the prizes and went to Africa to help an orphanage with the money. Pretty awesome. You can purchase a DVD in their online store here.
From the book, The God Factor, by Cathleen Falsani…
“The thing that did it for me is when the churches on the rez – The Catholics, the Presbyterians, and the Assemblies of God – all got together and had a book burning. On a rez! On a reservation!” he says indignantly. “In the late seventies and early eighties there was that sort of popular wave of burnings. It was rock music albums and books. My rez really got into it. The Assembly of God leader at the time was really charismatic. And I loved books. I loved music. And they were burning Pat Benatar! What the hell’s wrong with you? You’re burning Pat Benatar! I grabbed my books and ran home and thought, That’s it. I wasn’t exactly atheist, but I certainly wasn’t going to buy into a God that allowed that to happen.” – Sherman Alexie, Writer
This is another book that I started reading forever ago and am finally getting around to finishing. It’s not because it’s a bad book, either. In fact, quite the opposite. The God Factor: Inside The Spiritual Lives Of Public People is one of the most fascinating reads I’ve come across in some time.
Cathleen Falsani is a religion writer for the Chicago Sun Times. She is a graduate of Wheaton College, and holds masters degrees in journalism and theological studies. I have been a fan of her blog, which I was reading before I picked up this book. It’s called The Dude Abides (a reference from the movie The Big Lebowski, of which I am a enormous fan!) and you can check it out at falsani.blogspot.com.
The God Factor is essentially a collection of over 30 interviews Falsani conducted with public figures regarding their faith with commentary from the author. And it’s a broad range of people from all different arenas (film, dance, jazz music, authors, actors, etc.). She has conversations with everybody from Hugh Hefner (Playboy Magazine), Bono (U2) and Anne Rice (Vampire book author) to Senator Barack Obama. I would have to agree with the Chicago Tribune, quoted on the book jacket that Cathleen is definitely a “exemplary conversationalist.” Without exaggerating a bit, I can say these are some of the best interviews/stories I have ever read. Just completely engaging, entertaining and inspiring!
I don’t think it is necessary to agree with everybody in the book in regard to theology or belief (many of them, I would disagree with – especially regarding embracing all faiths as truth). But that really misses the point of finding God and inspiration from folks who are from various backgrounds and upbringings. In case that is lost on the reader, Cathleen lists the lessons she gratefully learned from her subjects at the back of the book.
Falsani’s newest book, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide For Grace, looks like another winner. I hope to get around to picking it up and reading it before the end of this year. I’m also going to be posting 5 questions and answers from her after I do. So many books, so little time!
This week is like a forest fire burning out of control. Each passing day is burning into the next and I’m starting to lose track of what direction up is. Have you ever had one of those? Well here’s a quick rundown of some stuff.
Monday I drove over to Grimey’s here in Nashville where David Byrne of Talking Heads was signing some stuff and shaking some hands. I shook his hand and said “hello David, it’s nice to meet you.” I’m not sure what he replied, but I think it was “yes.” Lisa (my Warner rep) took our picture with my iPhone which I posted here. I found out later that he rode a bicycle from downtown to the store for the event. That’s pretty kick ass, if you ask me.
Last night I went with a bunch of kids from The Booie to see Henry Rollins do his spoken word gig at TPAC. I think this is the 5th time I have been witness to the unrelenting fury that is Rollins. As usual, he did not disappoint. He gave the lowdown on his travels to Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and other places. He spoke for nearly 3 hours without a break or even a sip of water. For a guy approaching 50, that is pretty damn impressive! I picked up Henry’s latest book, A Dull Roar which is basically his journals from a Rollins Band tour he did in 2006. Looking forward to checking that out. He also talked about a new movie he shot with Cuba Gooding Jr. where Henry plays “a priest who guards the gates of hell.” Ha. And he also mentioned some documentaries he has been involved in, including one called H For Hunger (you can check out a Day One Rough Edit in the middle of the front page on the right hand side) that he is personally investing money in. All good stuff. If you get a chance, you should definitely check out this tour. Henry always makes me want to travel!
Here’s the rest of the dates of his current “Recountdown Tour”…
Sept. 25 Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse
Sept. 26 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues
Sept. 27 Fort Lauderdale, FL Revolution
Sept. 28 Fort Lauderdale, FL Revolution
Sept. 29 Tampa, FL Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
Oct. 1 Cullowhee, NC Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University
Oct. 3 Stafford, TX Stafford Centre
Oct. 4 Dallas, TX Lakewood Theatre
Oct. 5 Austin, TX La Zona Rosa
Oct. 7 Albuquerque, NM Kimo Theater
Oct. 8 Tempe, AZ Marquee Theater
Oct. 9 Las Vegas, NV House of Blues
Oct. 10 San Diego, CA 4th & B
Oct. 11 Santa Barbara, CA SoHo Restaurant & Music Club
Oct. 13 Portland, OR Newmark Theatre
Oct. 15 Missoula, MT Wilma Theatre
Oct. 16 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory
Oct. 18 Bend, OR Midtown Ballroom
Oct. 19 Vancouver, BC Centre for Performing Arts
Oct. 20 Calgary, AB Jack Singer Concert Hall
Oct. 21 Edmonton, AB Winspear Centre
Oct. 23 Duluth, MN Sacred Heart Music Center
Oct. 24 Minneapolis, MN Pantages Theatre
Oct. 25 Chicago, IL Vic Theatre
Oct. 26 Detroit, MI The Fillmore Detroit
Oct. 27 Toronto, ON Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Oct. 28 London, ON Centennial Hall
Oct. 29 Buffalo, NY Town Ballroom
Oct. 30 New York, NY Town Hall
Oct. 31 Albany, NY The Egg
Nov. 1 Boston, MA Orpheum Theatre
Nov. 2 Philadelphia, PA First Unitarian Church
Nov. 3 Alexandria, VA Birchmere
Nov. 5 Louisville, KY Headliner’s
Nov. 6 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
Nov. 8 Boulder, CO Boulder Theater
Nov. 9 Aspen, CO Belly Up T
Nov. 10 Salt Lake City, UT Murray Theater
Nov. 26 Seattle, WA Moore Theatre
My awesome wife is going on a Women’s Retreat this weekend with ladies from The Village Chapel where we go to Church. I’m going to watch the 1st big debate on Friday night (if it happens!) and Saturday I’m doing volunteer construction at the local Habitat For Humanity build site. That is going to be a first and hopefully I will not kill myself or anybody else with my chronic clumsiness.
Finally, I got 2 copies of the book Churched by Nashvillian Matthew Paul Turner in the mail this week. I’m going to be reading and posting a review in October as part of his “blog tour.” I’ll also be giving away a copy. I guess I better figure out how to do that. A contest perhaps?
I really appreciate the way Jim was able to show himself, warts and all, throughout the book. You could tell he has really been through the wringer of life (childhood abuse, divorce, job loss, depression) and has come out on the other side. I enjoyed taking a journey with him as he “sheds religion to find God” through ordinary experiences with a hip-hop artist, Waffle House waitress, tire salesman and other “nobodies.”
I enjoyed the humor (well, my sense of humor anyway) and brutal honesty Palmer expressed in regard to suffering from depression while at Church:
“But after all, lying seems to be consistent with church rules of engagement – pleasant questions, pleasant answers, even if they are untrue. What am I supposed to say to ‘Hi Jim, how are you?’ Funny you asked. Well, I’m at this place where I just don’t think I can go on with my life anymore. It all seems so pointless, including your asking me that question, because I know you don’t really care to know about it. I’m not faulting you, because I don’t even care that you don’t care. I pretty much don’t care about anything right now. I’m just trying to say that I feel utterly desolate inside and caught in the clutches of some unrelenting darkness that won’t let me go. Not to worry, in a short while I’ll be in bed and this hell will be over for a few short hours, but anyhow, there’s always tomorrow…So, how are you?”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all be so candid and honest in our responses to “how are you doing?” It’s true that we often are not equipped to deal with people who are broken and desperately in need of an ear or a shoulder.
I was also particularly struck by the story of a father (coincidentally named “Bill”) in the book. “Bill” loses his wife of 16 years to a freak horse riding accident. He is left to care for 4 kids on his own. In the aftermath, his teenage daughter attempts suicide. The response and faith of this father is really hard to fathom. When most become bitter and angry at God through similar circumstances, this man was somehow able to be faithful and trusting that God was there with him. Incredible.
If you enjoy reading stories of faith that are about real people with real struggles and are not wrapped up in a bunch of theological jargon and “christianese” that you cannot understand, then this would be a great book to check out.
Jim also has a great blog. You can stop by there at divinenobodies.com.