Tag Archive for: Tiny Letter

Childhood Identity (Politics)

In this month’s Tiny Letter, I used last week’s nostalgic post as a jumping off point to discuss childhood, belonging, and identity politics. In it, I write:

That evening, we gather around the television in my grandfather’s home and watch the presidential debate shape up. President Ronald Reagan—a man whose name I’ve never not known—and Walter Mondale—a man whose name I never can remember—engage in some sort of gentlemen’s fight. I pour a second bowl of cornflakes, spoon on heaps of sugar, and notice my family, sitting in the dark, hanging on President Raegan’s every word. They are the Spanish moss to his  presidential cypress. I am the heron hunting food.

Between spoonfuls of flakes and sugar sludge, I try my best to stay inside the lines of my Return of the Jedi coloring book. My mother turns from the living room, asks whether I’m paying attention, tells me I could stand on a stage like that one day. I look at the television and hear the president’s voice as gentle as a grandfather’s, and I look back down to my Ewoks. Why can’t I color like my childhood best friend, Adam Sills? If I were president, maybe my mother and teachers would hang all their hopes on my Ewok colorings.

To read the piece in its entirety, sign up for my Tiny Letter. And if you’ve already signed up, check your inbox for more.

***better than coffee, and cheaper too***

Do you like the content here or in my bi-monthly Tiny Letter? Do you read it over morning coffee? Want to help defray the costs of the veritable coffee plantation that fuels my writing? Then JOIN ME in the lab, the fun factory, the place I try out new things to see if they’ll stick. (Ahem… my Patreon community.) What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

powered by TinyLetter

 

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

Are you Israel or Pharaoh?

In 2016, I met Steve Wiens, a pastor in Minneapolis. I knew I liked Steve from the beginning. I didn’t know that Steve would become one of the rarest gems of the human experience—a friend.

In his new book Whole: Restoring What’s Broken in Me, You, and the Entire World, Steve invites us to stop reading the scriptures. Instead, Steve invites us to experience the scriptures. Experiencing the scripture changes our paradigm, it allows us to imagine the many ways God dances in our modern context. It provides a mirror, showing us when we are the villain, when we are the exiled, when we are the oppressed, and when we are the oppressor. It shows us what shalom might mean, what it might require.

Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from Steve’s book Whole, an excerpt that touches on experiencing the scriptures in light of the racial tensions in modern America. It’s an important read. Come along?

***

I am Pharaoh“Oh no,” Dee said, sitting across the table from me at Breaking Bread Café in North Minneapolis.

“What?” I asked cautiously. I had been talking to her about the Exodus as a broad theological concept that I was interested in writing and preaching about.

“I always get nervous when white pastors use the Exodus narrative and act as though they’re the children of Israel instead of the Egyptians.”

Dee and I are both church planters in our denomination who are learning what it means to see to the shalom of Minneapolis. Dee is one of the best preachers I’ve ever heard. She’s prophetic, wise, funny, and passionate, and she’s more than six feet tall. She’s a powerful presence, and she’s becoming a good friend.

And Dee is black.

To continue reading, sign up for my Tiny Letter. By signing up, you’ll receive my bi-monthly reflective newsletter. I think you’ll enjoy it. 

***LOVE THE WRITING?***

Do you like the content here or in my bi-monthly Tiny Letter? Then join my Patreon community. What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

powered by TinyLetter

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

An Invitation

I’ve found myself in lighter days, days with shining, luminous edges. Silver linings are real, I’ve found, and I can say this with some certainty–this life ain’t so bad.

I suppose I’ve found my way through a hole of sorts. It’s a hole that took a while to dig, one that involved a marriage, a career, the slow realization of the unimportance of a life, a little sickness, a little liquor, and a hell of a lot of my own stupidity. The odd thing about the hole I dug was that I dug it–for the most part–without realizing it. Is this the way we all do? Does anyone set out to lose themselves six-feet-under, buried by their own ambition, or pain, or penchants for addiction? I don’t suppose. I suppose most of us die by way of involuntary diggery.

You know this, right?

There’s an equal and opposite truth, though. I don’t suppose I pulled myself back into the light. Sure, I showed up; I did the work–yadda, yadda, yadda. But how was it that I climbed up the slickery, mudden sides of my own hole? If I’m honest, I feel as if I were pulled from it, predestined as that may sound. I feel scooped, maybe like the way God scooped the first man from the earth. Who knows. And though I call this the hand of God, a few of you might not believe in God the way I do; you can call it the long reach of the universe, or karma, or whatever, so long as you realize that I’m writing of the transcendent grace, that grace I find myself incapable of. Wherever you are and whatever you call this pulling, this grace, doesn’t so much matter to me. What matters is that I extend a little invitation to you. (Please know you’re all invited.) The invitation goes something like this:

Come and see. 

That’s how all the good stories start, and I started telling this story yesterday in my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. Here’s the introduction:

There is a disquieting stillness when you sit with a holy man, a proverbial oracle. There—in his office, on his back porch, in his bedroom, wherever—stillness is acute, sharp, maybe a needle point. It’s the stillness that pushes through skin, muscle, bone, and marrow into the very center of something (The heart? The soul?). The holy man, the oracle, he knows who he is, and he rests in the way and shape of his life. The student, or novice, or receiver (in this instance, me) does not know the way or shape but instead fumbles to hold the weight of any wisdom. Holy men and oracles smile at this fumbling. They know that fumbling leads to holding, at least over time.

“Remember the child?” they ask.

I could have started the first Newsletter of 2017 two thousand and seventeen different ways, but this is the only way that seemed right. I broke words for weeks before scattering them on the page like breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs seem about right. How else should I lead you to my friend—my friend—John Paine?

If you’d like to meet the man who’s acted as a sort of rope and pulley in my life, I hope you’ll read the full piece by signing up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. I’ll be letting this story unfold in serial fashion over the coming months, and only my monthly newsletter subscribers will have the opportunity to follow along. I hope to see you there.

***The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgiving***

It’s a noisy world, a world in which it can be difficult to find rhythms of quiet, restful, prayer. In this five-day email experience, I’ll provide you with prompts designed to lead you into prayers of thanksgiving, prayers that push out the noise, worries, and anxieties that can so often haunt. Sign up below receive this daily email plan, and you’ll also receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter.

And, if you enjoy this website or my Tiny Letter consider signing up as a monthly content supporter.
Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

Dust and Light

Before my sixth sense died at the tree of knowledge, I was as carefree as any child, any bird, any flower of the field. I was the new creation of every morning. All children are.

Only four, I tasted fingers inked with mulberry blood and powdered with Texas dust. I rested in the shadow of squat trees, gnarled as old men’s fingers, and cut grass with the swish of a mesquite switch I’d plucked from my canopy. These were my friends: the roadrunner; the scissor-tailed flycatcher; the grayed woman at the end of the road with the black cat and a room full of fish tanks. They were lake fish, I think, monochrome and meaty. Everything in her house was steel-blue, best as I recall…

To continue reading, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter.

***TINY LETTER***

Thanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. If you sign up, you’ll receive my free eBook, Coming Clean|Austin OuttakesAnd, if you enjoy this website or my Tiny Letter, consider signing up as a monthly content supporter.

powered by TinyLetter

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

Staying Sober-ish

You can sneak this drink, this peek, this pill. One little thrill won’t hurt, especially if the spouse is away.

If you don’t hear these voices, move along, move along; this conversation might be beneath you. But if these voices come calling from time to time, I suppose I’d like to tell you this: welcome to the human experience.

Do you wrestle with the haunting addictions, with the voices of the human experience? If so, I’d love to hear your two cents. How do you kill the demons that don’t seem to die? It’s a personal question, I know.

This is a tiny excerpt from this month’s first Tiny Letter–my bi-monthly newsletter. It is a more personal Tiny Letter, one in which I write openly about the struggles of maintaining a sober-ish life. It’s also a Tiny Letter in which I’m asking you to give a little feedback. I’ll collect this feedback, and will repackage it in the hopes of shedding a little light on the human experience of addiction (to alcohol, pills, puking, shopping, the internet, whatever) and sobriety.

If you aren’t a Tiny Letter subscriber, would you consider subscribing today? And if you subscribe, would you consider throwing your thoughts into the ring? And once you’ve subscribed, once you’ve given a little feedback, would you invite your friends? Sober-ish is, after all, a community effort.

CLICK HERE to subscribe, and I’ll send you the Tiny Letter. And for those of you who are already subscribers, I hope you’ll consider sharing the Tiny Letter with your friends and family; I hope you’ll invite them into the conversation.

(As always, this post on addiction, recovery, and healing process is brought to you by Coming Clean: A Story of Faith, a Christianity Today 2016 Book Awards winner.)

***TINY LETTER***

Thanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. If you sign up, you’ll receive my free eBook, Coming Clean|Austin OuttakesAnd, if you enjoy this website, or my Tiny Letter, consider signing up as a monthly content supporter.

powered by TinyLetter

 

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.