There Are No Unsacred Places

My pastor, Bob Henry, read this wonderful blog post this morning at Silverton Friends Church. The post is called "The Hill" and it was written by Mike Huber, pastor of West Hills Friends, a Quaker meeting in Portland. The blog post reminds me of something Wendell Berry wrote in a poem called "How To Be a Poet (to remind myself)":There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.The apostle Paul says followers of Jesus are ambassadors of reconciliation. That reconciliation work extends to - and is perhaps even rooted in - our particular places. Thus, … [Read more...]

The Taste of the Place

The Pines Vineyard

One of the keys to understanding Slow Church is captured in the seventeenth-century French phrase le goût de terroir, which can be translated “the taste of the place.”Carlo Petrini, co-founder of the Slow Food movement, writes often about terroir as “the combination of natural factors (soil, water, slope, height above sea level, vegetation, microclimate) and human ones (tradition and practice and cultivation) that gives a unique character to each small agricultural locality and the food grown, raised, made, and cooked there.” Thus, a Pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley takes on the t … [Read more...]

The Moral Importance of the iPhone

iPhone

In a 2007 interview with Arthur Boers, the philosopher Albert Borgmann makes the case that television is of moral importance. Borgmann says: "When I teach my ethics course I tell these relatively young people that the most important decision that they'll make about their household is first whether they're going to get a television and then second where they're going to put it."I think for my generation and for the generation coming after mine, the questions could probably be amended to (a) "Are you going to get a smartphone?" and (b) "If so, what limits are you going to place on its … [Read more...]

Brief Remarks at a Tree Dedication

Osakazuki

The arts and craft college where I work sits on an 11-acre wooded campus in Portland’s west hills. It’s a beautiful campus, built on the site of an old filbert orchard, and it bewitches almost everyone who visits.  A few years ago, the college put in two new beautiful, architecturally-significant buildings. Both buildings have been submitted for Silver LEED Certification. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the old filbert orchard was destroyed during construction. (This was not part of the master plan.) Many faculty, staff, students, and alumni were understandably devastated at the loss … [Read more...]

Peak Oil and the Local Church

gasprices

At last weekend's Inhabit Conference in Seattle, I had the opportunity to co-facilitate (with Brandon Rhodes) a conversation on "peak oil and place." It was a lively and fascinating discussion. Near the end I asked a question that I also want to pose here.Cheap fossil fuel energy has underwritten modernity and more than a century of America's rapid economic growth. But the world's oil resources are going into irreversible decline, and gas prices are through the roof. For this reason and others (climate change, high food prices, high debt levels), we seem to have reached "the end of … [Read more...]

Beds and Books: The Hospitality of Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company

Everything that rises must converge. Well, here is a fun convergence of interests.I am writing a chapter on hospitality for the Slow Church book. I have reference volumes stacked ten-high on my desk at home. But in the car to and from work I have been listening to audiobooks by Ernest Hemingway. The first audiobook I listened to is my favorite Hemingway book: A Moveable Feast, which is about Hemingway's time as a young writer in 1920s Paris. In fact, the Hemingway kick was inspired by Woody Allen's film Midnight in Paris - also partially set in the 1920s - a movie I compulsively rent and wa … [Read more...]

Eternal Beings Living in Time: On Wendell Berry’s “Jayber Crow”

wendell-berry

I have an unusually long commute these days, a burden I am taking steps to alleviate. The commute is redeemed somewhat by the opportunity to listen to audiobooks. If someone sets out to be a writer, the first piece of advice they get to is to keep writing. The second is to keep reading. I would append the second bit of advice to say "Keep reading. When possible, read out loud or be read to." There is something special about the way hearing a book, story, or poem read aloud can tune a writer's ear to the music of language and good storytelling.For the most part, I've been using the commute … [Read more...]


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