Scott Cairns and his Idiot Psalms

Guest Post

By Angela Doll Carlson

W.H. Auden has said, “A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the work of Scott Cairns. Whether they are the words from his poem, “Loves”:

I have kissed
his feet. I have looked long
into the trouble of his face

Or those he’s translated and adapted from the writings of the early saints in Endless Life:

The soul that looks
finally to God, conceives
a new mouth-watering
desire for His eternal beauty

Cairns’s work is at once embodied and ethereal, finding its roots in the ancient soil of rich language and reaching its branches into the lives of the common man. His poems greet the reader with a familiarity that allows the poet to draw us ever nearer so that at any moment he might whisper one great truth into the ear.

[Read more...]

God For Us An Interview with Beth Bevis

Image, the sponsor of this blog, played a central role in the publication of God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, released in December. Co-edited by Image editor Gregory Wolfe and Image board member Greg Pennoyer, God With Us features meditations for every day of Lent by some of the most highly regarded spiritual writers of our time, including Richard Rohr, Kathleen Norris, Ronald Rolheiser, Luci Shaw, and Scott Cairns.

Here Paraclete Press interviews contributor Beth Bevis.

Paraclete Press: How does the title God For Us apply to the weeks preceding Easter?

Beth Bevis: I think the title serves as a reminder that the disciplines associated with Lent are not only (or even primarily) about denial; rather, like the events of Holy Week and Easter, these disciplines are meant to achieve something “for us.” Those words, “for us,” shift the emphasis from the negative—what we deny or give up during Lent—to the rich, full life that Lent makes possible when it is directed toward the grace of Easter.

PP: Why is the observance of Lent spiritually necessary?

BB: I would say that it’s necessary because it calls us not only to repent from sins that are easily recognized, but also to examine areas of our lives about which it is very easy to become complacent—destructive habits and thought patterns that keep us from fully experiencing grace in our daily lives. But Lent is also necessary because it’s part of a cycle and therefore sets a limit on this process, which for some people can be quite spiritually grueling.

[Read more...]

Blaze: David Wilcox Opens the Heart, Part 2

This interview with singer-writer David Wilcox, whose new album blaze released this week, is continued from yesterday.

Shannon Huffman Polson: So many people are writing—and reading—dystopia right now, at least in the world of literature. “Oil Talkin’ To Ya” has a more positive vision of the world. How have you been able to transcend what seems to be in vogue of the hopelessness relating to the current challenges of the world?

David Wilcox: The idea I tried with “Oil” is from someone who lives off the grid and charges his car from solar panels—he feels different because he lives in possibility, the possibility that if we make a lot of really good decisions things could be different, we could get along with the energy economy we see in the natural world. Being around him I saw that he has access to a hope I don’t because he switches on a light pulling energy from a grid he is both giving to as well as taking from.

I do love a song that has done something with the information, that’s not just watched the news and reacted in fear, but has made some emotional alchemy with the material. Songs need to do the work and get to a place beyond a fear response. It’s still my job to consider how I’ll react to this. It’s entertaining or at least distracting to look at life as a series of terrible things, but I don’t like the experience of being in that space as much as the space where I’ve taken the time to think it through.

[Read more...]

Blaze: David Wilcox Opens the Heart, Part 1

David Wilcox describes himself as a “father, a husband, a citizen and a songwriter…a traveler—an adventurer at his core, always on his way somewhere.” The celebrated songwriter and creator of more than eighteen albums began his career with a bike ride through North Carolina when he was a teenager and has called Asheville home ever since.

Wilcox’s latest album blaze debuted Tuesday. I talked to him about narrative and responsibility, creative process, and how songwriting opens his heart and teaches him to engage with the world.

Shannon Huffman Polson: Your lyrics have a very real narrative element to them, sometimes even writing songs from the perspectives of different characters. Where did that idea come from and what does it do for you?

David Wilcox: I love the experience of being carried along by a story and having it open to another layer like a good parable does. This can surprise me with an emotional experience that’s a surprising compassion or reframing of a circumstance. A good story can do this—I love stories that walk beside you and gradually walk you to a place you might not have gone otherwise.

Those are the songs I love to have in my life. That’s what I aspire to. The songs I write I write because I want to learn from them, I want to see the world the way they see it.

[Read more...]

God For Us: An Interview with James Calvin Schaap

James SchaapImage, the sponsor of this blog, played a central role in the publication of God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, which has recently been released. Co-edited by Image editor Gregory Wolfe and Image board member Greg Pennoyer, God With Us features meditations for every day of Lent by some of the most highly-regarded spiritual writers of our time, including Richard Rohr, Kathleen Norris, Ronald Rolheiser, Luci Shaw, and Scott Cairns.

Today we interview James Calvin Schaap. [Read more...]


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