Reviews as a dating service

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Reviews and re-republication do for books what dating services do. They match books and readers who might like each other.

Thanks to James A. Cox, publisher of Midwest Book Review and MBR reviewer Able Greenspan for this review in the April 2017 edition:

Synopsis: “Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness” by Gordon C. Stewart (a public theologian and an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA) echoes the call of the Navajo sage and the psalmist who invited their hearers to stop — “If we keep going this way, we’re going to get where we’re going” — and be still — “Be still, and know. . . .”

Like pictures in a photo album taken from a unique lens, these essays zoom in on singular moments of time where the world is making headlines, drawing attention to the sin of exceptionalism in its national, racial, religious, cultural, and species manifestations. Informed by Japanese Christian theologian Kosuke Koyama, Elie Wiesel, Wendell Berry, and others, Stewart invites the reader to slow down, be still, and depart from “collective madness” before the Navajo sage is right.

Told in the voice familiar to listeners of All Things Considered and Minnesota Public Radio, these poetic essays sometimes feel as familiar as an old family photo album, but the pictures themselves are taken from a thought-provoking angle.

Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, “Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness” is a consistently engaging and impressively memorable read from cover to cover. Thoroughly ‘reader friendly’ in organization and presentation, “Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness” is unreservedly recommended and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Religion/Spirituality collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for seminary students and the general reading public with an interest in the subject that “Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness” is also available in a paperback edition (9781532600654, $20.98) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

This Friday, April 28, Day1 will feature “Homeland Militarization,” a chapter from the book.

Day1 describes itself as “the voice of the mainline Protestant churches, presenting outstanding preachers from the mainline Protestant denominations, including the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), American Baptist Churches, and others.” It began as “The Protestant Hour” in 1945.

Thanks to Peter Wallace, Day1’s executive producer and host, for introducing “Be Still! to a new audience. And thanks to Bob Todd of Bob Todd Publicity for making the connections.

And, if you haven’t yet dated “Be Still!” . . . . make a lonely author happy over steak with the paperback for $20.98 or over an expensive cup of coffee with the Kindle/eNook, only $9.99 on AmazonBarnes & Noble or your local bookstore.

Grace and Peace,

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, April 25, 2017.

A Review and a Request

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Today marks the first public review of the book that was born three months ago.

Click “Essays to explain collective madness” to read former Kansas City Star columnist Bill Tammeus’s review of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness. And HERE for his citation from Be Still! in his column yesterday “When the forces of fear rule”.

Then, if you’re feeling kind toward a postpartum depression author dependent on the kindness of friends to help his baby grow up, use your email or FB page to share the review. If you’re on FaceBook, you can also “Share” the review from Bill Tammeus’s or Bob Todd’s FB pages.

Thanks for considering and have a great day!

Gordon in Chaska, MN, April 19, 2017.

 

 

Like a Mustard Seed

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I needed John Buchanan’s commentary this morning. Maybe you do too.

Hold to the Good

I was in a pew with in the Kensington Community Church, United Church of Christ, with our San Diego family last Sunday. The preacher, the Rev. Darryl Kistler, reminded us that Jesus talked a lot about the Kingdom of God and that whenever he was asked about the Kingdom, when it was coming and what it would look like, his answers were enigmatic, not at all what people expected or wanted. “The Kingdom of God is among you,” he said once. On another occasion he said that the Kingdom would be quiet, almost invisible: like a tiny mustard seed or like the yeast that does its important work in bread baking without fanfare.

It was the reminder I needed this morning because I am worried about the particular kingdom I am currently living in. It has not been an easy, hopeful time since the presidential inauguration in January. Not long…

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To all my cheap friends . . .

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display-graeters01With nothing else to say today, I take this anniversary eve (see below) to beg all my cheap friends: “Get out your credit card and spring for Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness, and I’ll buy you a Graeter’s ice cream Sundae next time I’m in a state that has Graeter’s.” Otherwise, I’ll just owe you. I’m as cheap as I am vain.

Be Still! costs $20.98 in paperback or $9.99 on kindle. But if you subtract the cost of a free Graeter’s Sundae ($5.25 + tax), the kindle would only cost you a net $4.74 (even less when including the tax on the Sundae)!

Publishers increasingly depend on their authors’ vanity – the sinful self-promotion that has consumed me since Be Still!‘s release January 6, 2017, three months ago tomorrow.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, begging in vain without apology from Chaska, MN, April 5, 2017.

 

On not becoming what I hate

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These days I get pretty angry and it’s not pretty! I’m in need of a good meditation. Like this one.

“We have the wrong perception that we are separate from the other…. So in a way Trump is a product of a certain way of being in this world so it is very easy to have him as a scapegoat. But if we look closely, we have elements of Trump in us and it is helpful to have time to reflect on that.” – Brother Phap Dung, quoted in “A Zen Master’s Advice on Coping with Trump,” Huffington Post.

It gives reason for the likes of me (or is it “I?) to stop and look within as well as out.

Click Zen and the Art of Activism for a “good meditation”.

Peace,

Gordon

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 30, 2017.

When the hearing aid goes dumb

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I have two hearing aids. I need them both.

All of a sudden there was no sound in the left ear. Nada! The hearing aid just quit while listening to a sermon in church. No idea what was said from that point on.

I went home. Changed the battery. Nada. Changed the little white insert at the end of the receiver thinking it might be clogged. Still no sound.

Monday morning, while waiting at the hearing clinic for a verdict on the problem, an older man and his daughter took the seats across from me in the waiting area. They started a conversation. I pointed to my left ear, saying I couldn’t hear. The daughter said something and pointed to her father who also said something I couldn’t understand. Then I said, “I can’t hear,” and smiled. “Sometimes I like the silence. The world is very noisy.” The man laughed. The daughter nodded and smiled knowingly.

It was a momentary communion of glorious shared silence.

The result? The hearing aid has been sent off to the manufacturer for repair of a twisted wire inside the hearing mold. My left ear now wears a loaner, a rental from Herz until my vehicle returns at the cost of $250. I re-imagine the text of the sermon I couldn’t hear:

“Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” – Proverbs 17:28

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 28, 2017.

Whatever talents I possess

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DylanThomas

Dylan Thomas

“I am at the most transitional period now,” wrote Dylan Thomas to his friend. “Whatever talents I possess may suddenly diminish or suddenly increase. I can with ease become an ordinary fool. I may be one now. But it doesn’t do to upset one’s own vanity.”

In that spirit, I accede to my dear friend Bob’s suggestion to post author “endorsements” of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness on Views from the Edge. “Why not?” I said to myself. “It’s your book! If you don’t promote it, who will? Who cares if you’re a fool! If you don’t do it now, your limited talents may suddenly decrease!”

Be Still! coverAUTHOR ENDORSEMENTS

”As a person who navigates the pleasures and perils of the twenty-first-century campus, having Be Still! at my fingertips will be like having a counselor, a guide, a very present help in these times. This volume touches the pulse of our times with the rare combination of unwavering candor and tender mercy.”
Lucy A. Forster-Smith, Sedgwick Chaplain, Senior Minister in the Memorial Church, Harvard University

”These are lovely, powerful, centering essays–messages from and for a fragile but beautiful planet.”
Bill McKibben, Author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

”This wondrous collection of rich snippets would be of interest and value if only for the rich source material that Gordon Stewart quotes from, as it must be an inexhaustible memory and/or file. But the many words he quotes are no more than launching pads for Stewart’s expansive imagination and agile mind that take us, over and over, into fresh discernment, new territory, unanticipated demands, and open-ended opportunity. All of that adds up to grace, and Stewart is a daring witness to grace that occupies all of our territory.”
Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary, Author of Remember You Are Dust, The Prophetic Imagination, and many other books.

”Gordon Stewart has a way with words, a clean, clear, concise, and yet still creative way with words, a way that can set the reader almost simultaneously at the blood-stained center of the timely–the urgent issues of our day–and also at the deep heart of the timeless, those eternal questions that have forever challenged the human mind. Stewart looks at terror, Isis, and all their kin, from the perspective of Paul Tillich and, yes, John Lennon. He moves from Paris, Maine, by way of the town drunk, toward the City of God. This is strong medicine, to be taken in small, but serious doses. Wear a crash helmet!
J. Barrie Shepherd
Author of Between Mirage and Miracle and many others

Be Still! is needed at this American moment of collective madness even more than the moments that occasioned many of the essays originally airing on public radio and other venues. With a keen eye and a knack for telling the right story at the right time, Rev. Stewart speaks to the pressing issues in our politics, economy, and culture, and consistently, often poignantly, puts them in ethical and theological perspective that clarifies what too often mystifies. Great bedside reading for those of us who stay up at night concerned about where our world is heading!”
Michael McNally, Ph.D
Professor of Religion, Carleton College; Author of Honoring Elders: Aging, Authority, and Ojibwe Religion

Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness, is exactly what its title proclaims: a departure from the frenzy and folly of our times. Each essay offers the reader an opportunity to breathe deep, to fall into the story or idea and consider what it means to be a citizen, a friend, a human being. The topics covered are both particular and universal (usually both at the same time), and the writing is wonderfully concise and open–much like poetry! This is a book you will want to open again and again; it s what the world needs now, more than ever.”
Joyce Sutphen
Minnesota Poet Laureate; Professor in English, Gustavus Adolphus College

”In Be Still! Stewart masterfully spins a counter-narrative to the collective madness that is gripping our world. Like the psalmist, Stewart prays thoughtfully through metaphors and religious tradition, meshing theologians with news headlines to lead the reader to a deeper, more sustained truth. Be Still! reads like part op-ed and part parable. In these troubling and anxious times, may we, who have ears to hear, listen!”
Frank M. Yamada
President, McCormick Theological Seminary, Author of Configurations of Rape in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary Analysis of Three Rape Narratives 

joanna-baillie-1

Joanna Baillie (1762-1851)

Then, after heeding my friend Bob’s and Dylan Thomas’s advice, I heard the reassuring voice of Joanna Baillie speaking from long ago:

“Pampered vanity is a better thing perhaps than starved pride.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 26, 2017.

 

 

America’s socio-psychic health

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Thanks to MinnPost.com for publishing this opinion piece on socio-psychic dynamics of the American political culture in 2017 as seen through the ancient myth of Narcissus.

Click Recalling Narcissus -and the roles of Echo and the pond to read the story on MinnPost. Then, if you choose, leave a comment on the MinnPost page or here on Views from the Edge.

In any case, as always, thanks for dropping by the evaporating pond!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 23, 2017.

Amazon review disappears!

Amazon
***** Striking a blow against willful ignorance, March 15, 2017
By Amazon Customer

This review is from: Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness (Paperback)

This is a powerful book, its essays best absorbed in small doses. I used it as a daily meditation, studying no more than two at a time.

The title suggests a turning inward, a journey toward inner harmony, but it is really a clarion call to informed action against the national perils of collective madness and willful ignorance. The book connects us with threads of thought from seminal philosophers, and my favorite is a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Read this book. Talk about it with your friends. It is important. James Robert Kane, author.

The customer review vanished from the Amazon site.

“Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” I’m guessing either Amazon followed James Kane’s counsel by willfully providing customers with a very “small dose” of this customer review (as in one short hour on the site before the dose vanished) or Amazon is ignorant of the disappearance of “A striking blow against willful ignorance.”

It’s hardly a matter of life or death. But it’s enough to drive an anxious author mad  when Amazon lists 10 five-star customer reviews of Be Still! but posts 8 instead of 10.  Where, O where, are the other two? Wait! Wait! Don’t tell me! I need to get a grip and be still!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 19, 2017.

 

Antidisestablishmentarianism 2017

It’s a big word with a special history, namely, the 19th century dispute in England between the establishmentarians, their disestablishmentarian opponents, and, finally, the antidisestablishmentarian supporters of the establishmentarians, the opponents of the disestablishmentarians!

Back then the issue was whether the Church of England should be the constitutionally “established” church of England. The conservative establishmentarians had answered yes; the more liberal disestablishmentarians argued against the establishment of religion; the antidisestablishmentarians whiplashed the disestablishmentarians back into line. There was no separation of church and state.

In the United States it is different. Because the founders were disestablishmentarians, there is  no established religion. They enacted what was later described as “a wall of separation” between the state and religious institutions. Yet in 2017 the American version of the English establishmentarians speaks and acts as if there.

The American alt-right is a curious mixture of religious antidisestablishmentarianism and governmental disestablishmentarianism, i.e., the strategic elimination of governmental institutions overseen by alt-right White House Strategic Advisor Steve Bannon.

The White House has announced the “re-organization” of the executive branch of the U.S. Government, one of the three branches of the U.S. Constitution. It’s a curious cocktail of religious establishmentarianism without government – but you can’t have an established religion with a disestablished government. Or can you?

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 18, 2017.