1) Just Us, by Yale professor and award winning poet, Claudia Rankine. The homonym for justice makes a dual truth out of a central word to all human striving for fairness. A reviewer referred her to the origin of “Just us” in the wit and wisdom of Richard Pryor. “You go down there looking for justice, and that’s what you find, ‘Just us.’” (Only black people are down there seeking justice, only white people receive justice.) This is a provocative and prophetic work on ending racial inequity that stays lodged in the conscience. She ends by quoting the wonderful epigram from Cornel West, “Justice is how love shares itself in public.”
2) My Octopus Teacher. Netflix documentary from South Africa. We felt awe, felt our anxieties calmed, felt our souls grow deeper by an experience of “the sacred.” A profoundly moving depth of reverence for nature and the delicate balance of the environment fill conversation that follows. Our daughter Kate put it on our must watch list weeks ago, at last we took the plunge with Craig Foster, a diver off the southern cape of Africa, to go into the kelp forests and learn from the most intelligent of marine creatures. Say no more until you see through his eyes in this 120 minute poem for the eyes as well as the ears.
3) The Good News According to Jesus, is Senior Professor Don Blosser’s recent book that is providing grist for a Bible study in our home base church. It is provoking lively and appreciative conversation in our zoom services after each person has wrestled with some of the best of Don’s teaching from many decades on the faculty at Goshen College. His insights on resurrection lift our spirits in the midst of fire, flood, quarantine, illness and death. Heavy stuff, Don, yet Jesus has the right words to cut through our confusion. We got our pile of copies from firstname.lastname@example.org. We mailed them to every member. The Postal Service returned some. We don’t give up.
4) There, There. Follow Tommy Orange trace the experiences of twelve intriguing persons from Native American communities traveling to the giant Oakland Powwow. The reader is empathetically immersed in the plight of urban peoples grappling with the tragic and painful history of an American genocide. Written with a beauty and spirituality Orange reveals strengths of character in a different key that cut through the cacophony of the city. This was one of Leann’s book club choices that got thrown in my lap, and opened my eyes. Last Monday was Indigenous Peoples day in the US. This book is a powerful way to observe Indigenous Peoples” Day, yes, it was last Monday, but it is never too late for an eye-opener, soul-stirrer.
5) Meatball Celebration. Last month the Big Creek Wildfire cancelled our week at Huntington Lake in the High Sierras. Now we are unpacking all our gear and thawing the prepared rations. The meatballs from Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations are perfect, but we swallow twice at the word “celebration” as we dish them up. Instead we grieve for lost natural habitats, cindered cabins and homes, and most of all for souls lost in the wall of flames. Creation Care is a primary calling (beginning in Genesis 1) and Creation Concern is a primal call to prayer and action before Earth becomes a cosmic cinder-ball with sea water sauce.