An article in catapult – On Facebook, social media, and life well-lived

I am very happy to be a part of the most recent edition of catapult with an article titled “And Then He Disappeared,” in which I reflect upon my relationship with electronic life and social media. If you like to reflect on such questions too, you may give it a read here:

The photographs mentioned in the first paragraph of the essay may be viewed here.

Be sure to check out articles from the entire issue which asks questions about the value of progress and its ever forward movement.

of articles and blog breaks – on thrift store shopping and wholeness

Hello, readers/viewers. I don’t know what I ought to call you 🙂 It has been a little while, but more on that in a little bit.

First, I have had an article published in catapult magazine about a coat…well, really about other things, too, but finding an amazing coat in a thrift store gets the ball rolling.

In the current issue, which is all about the issues involved in clothing oneself, I also have two haiku, reprinted from here, about some of the wonders of spring.

Regarding blogging and breaking, well, I am in the process of mulling over a photographic break, both on and off the blog–that is, exiling my cameras elsewhere for a time in order to…well, I am not certain to do what exactly, but perhaps, to riff off the images in the previous post, to let the lake refill. Indeed, the images in that post may serve as an apt image for this time.

I do hope that there will be some activity here, perhaps the posting of an article or two, but, more significantly, I hope to complete an overhaul of The Dassler Effect, with a new look and a section devoted to selling some of my prints.

I am not sure how long the break will last–it has not snowed here and the flowers are as yet to come out to tempt me–but I can be a fickle fellow 🙂 so there maybe some hope that it will be short.

Thank you so much for coming along for the ride however long you have been on board.

Of Twinkies and Fruitcakes – Hostess Holiday Fruitcake

A few weeks ago nutritionists everywhere must have rejoiced to hear of the sinking of Hostess Brands, makers of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Cup Cakes, and Wonder Bread, amongst many other titles. It is almost impossible to conceive that the rights to produce these iconic products will not be picked up by someone else, however bad that might be for the obesity epidemic. I wonder, though, no pun intended, whether anyone will choose to pick up Hostess Holiday Fruitcake?

I got the cake above in a overstock store for the low, low price of $1.49. And, the verdict. Well, I must say that I was surprised at how decent it actually was. The consistency was just right, with a good selection of fruit. With some additional spices (nutmeg to name one) and some brandy added it would actually be quite good. Shock and surprise.

I have written about fruitcake at greater length here.

Ash Wednesday Images and Lenten Poem by Guest Blogger Alice Ellis

Lent: a 40- Day Invitation

Leave behind your brokenness
Enter the simple-plain wilderness
Be marked with palm-ashes
Sing hymns in soft tones of longing
Lean hungry hearts into prayer
Search out the memory of baptism
Hear the ancient cry “Repent,
Prepare the way of the Lord.”
Speak the language of confession
Let the shadow of the cross fall on you
Receive the healing of forgiveness
Take His bread broken for you
Drink His wine poured out for you
Let His love overtake your love
That you may become…
God’s Holy Invitation to Others.

-Alice Ellis, February 2008

“He Puts the Lonely in Families” in Catapult

In this most recent article of mine in Catapult I reflect a little on the life and death of my good friend Anil, who died this past Spring, and about his life in our community. Whether you knew Anil or not, I think you may appreciate the article.

How shall we speak of weight?

In writing for Catapult magazine, I have written about pornography, grieving, conflict, and race, but seldom has the prospect of articulating my thoughts and feelings about a topic been harder than writing about weight. My interior landscape as it reflects on my own external form and also how we talk about such issues with one another in community-or rather don’t talk about such issues-are so complex, involving such depth of feeling, that the task seemed too hard, principally because of the wounding it might cause others. And, consequently, I did not manage to write an article this time. After several failed attempts at an essay,though, I did manage to write a sort of poem which gets at some of what I was after. It is not much, but if it precipitates any thoughts which you would like to talk to me about, please do not hesitate to email me.

This issue entitled “Weight,” is not only about the weight of bodies, but also reflects on other conceptual notions of weightiness, with some very personal writing. I especially commend to you the editor’s piece which encourages us who live in privileged Western contexts to ask God for more, not less, weight in life.

“Grief in the Age of Facebook,” a Fascinating Article

A friend of mine passed along this article to me as my local church community recently experienced the death of a friend and some of our grieving was expressed via Facebook. Our friend did not have a Facebook profile himself, as the very popular girl in the article did, so we did not have that dynamic with which to interact. Also, even though I waited for a good while before breaking the news on Facebook, there were some people who did hear the news via Facebook or email. I am afraid that though that is unfortunate, as the medium does not feel weighty enough to bear or perhaps even deserve the carrying of such news, this is likely an unavoidable reality of our times, just like letters or newspapers or telegraphs or or telephones or radio or television were bearers of such news in other times.

If you notice the progression of media in the last sentence of the previous paragraph (save for newspapers), the technology allows broadcast to more and more people over time. Now the interesting thing with the Internet in general, and social networking media in particular, is that 1) not only the very famous now can have news of their death broadcast to many people (even though newspaper obits did this to some degree), but 2) that many of the people to whom it is broadcast can respond and their responses become part of the broadcast itself. Of course this dynamic is at the center of social media itself and, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. And yet with such personal thoughts broadcast so widely, it should give us such pause with how such communication shapes us and our collective life, yes even our way of being human in some ways.

This line of thinking is similar to an article I just wrote, but is more focused. Now, I am not a Luddite or tremendously old, but still I bring to electronic communication conventions and courtesies learned before its advent. I am very curious to know how new conventions and courtesies are developing amongst those who have always, so to speak, swum in this media. I certainly hope such courtesies do develop, and yet I suspect that any given persons development of these will be, as always, dependent on what they learned in that other little social network, their family, and yet even that network itself cannot help but be influenced by these new media and networks.

At any rate, before I philosophically wandered off, I was commending this article to you. It is a good one.

An Article About Pakistan, Thrift, Abundance, Injustice, Sloppy Joes, and a Loving Heart

landa bazar
-photo by mashriqi_boy

The photo above well illustrates a portion of a story my friend Sophie Blanc wrote for the most recent issue of catapult. The picture is of “Landa Bazaar” in Peshawar, Pakistan, but which has its equivalent in every Pakistani city. Does that first word sound familiar to you? The first syllable “lan” rhymes with “bun.” Yes, “London” it is, which is a sort of colonial stand-in for whatever Western country from which the cast-off clothes came in the first place. Now I understand where my love of thrift stores came from! I once got this great dark, blue wool cardigan with an argyle pattern from the very city, Jhelum, in which Sophie lived in Pakistan…but I digress.

Sophie’s article brings back so many vivid memories of my childhood in Pakistan and Murree Christian School, made all more the poignant by the great trial Pakistan is undergoing just now (please pray, if you are a pray-er). Her story depicts the very real deprivations of living as a child of missionaries, and then drills down deeper and considers the relative abundance missionaries often have compared to the people they serve. Finally, it ends with a cameo of a lovely, loving heart, which I shall not spoil for you.

I appreciate every bit of reflection in this piece, however my favorite part, which may seem rather trivial, is a depiction of time and place, which only people who have shared in it can fully, immersively “see” and re-experience. And, yet, anyone can get the lovely sense of sweet memory, which hopefully is an experience we all have from time to time. Oh, and Sophie also has a very fine blog. Check it out!

I remember the joyous feeling of going up to the dining room with money in my pocket to get a sloppy joe (bolognaise mince meat in a hamburger bun). The taste of sloppy joes in that particular room at that particular time on those particular plates will probably never be able to be recreated. The sweetish taste Pakistani buns, the tang of the mince meat, the sauce dripping everywhere only to be mopped up with the last bits of bun. Incredibly satisfying.