Introducing … Merit Badges for Distinctive Acts of Badassery & Aplomb

January 11, 2016

See them all (and get yours, for free!) over at susangrayblue.com.

wings

Why merit badges? Because being bold takes heart, and having heart in this rough-and-tumble world isn’t always easy. Because the road is long and twisty, and you have to bring your own marshmallows. Because goodness doesn’t always just happen – some deliberate assembly is required.

It’s an Emily Dickinson thing. It’s a Ben Franklin thing. It’s a fortitude thing. It’s an inspiration thing.

And it’s a scientific fact that these badges serve both as a reward for a job nicely done and as a magical token to ensure baddassery & aplomb in your future. Also, they’re free! If you want them, they’re yours. See them all over at susangrayblue.com.

Finally! The board game guide to escaping fundamentalism

March 9, 2015

map onlyI hope you love somewhat fake maps as much as I do.

I’m thrilled to introduce A Field Guide to Losing Your Religion … but Not Your Soul. It’s the 20-step plan you’ve been waiting for.

The topography of an un-conversion is wild, and I’m here to guide you through it. (With Dante! And Dickinson! And marshmallows! And Korean taco trucks!)

Completion may take several years, so why not start today?

Or, I’d love to see you over on my new site, which is susangrayblue.com.

Hips are the new butterflies

August 11, 2011
A lady broke her hip in Memphis, so I moved back to San Francisco, putting a new spin on the butterfly effect.

Scenes from the adventure that ensued, documented on Charm to Go.

Chaos theory has a new case study, as if it needed one.

Observe:

Scene 1: A lady in Memphis breaks her hip. Ouch, I say, ouch! She presumably calls my landlord in Nashville, who happens to be her son, to report the demise of said hip.

Scene 2: My landlord perhaps sits in his Adirondack and sighs. He realizes that, while I’m nice and all, I’m not his mother and my bones are all fine as far as he knows and I don’t really need to live right next door to him as much as his mother does.

Scene 3: I see a handwritten note when I arrive home from being a productive citizen and working all day. The note says I must please and thank you go away very soon, but it’s been a pleasure having me as a neighbor and collecting my rent check every month.

Scene 4: I decide that if I have to move anyway, I may as well leave Tennessee altogether and go back to California. I suppose it’s worth noting that I’ve been considering this plan for a couple of years. If you believe that the universe if full of signs just waiting for your personal interpretation, getting kicked out of where you live is surely one of them. “What does it mean,” I queried the universe. “Get out of here,” the universe obligingly replied. (Except the universe also used a curse word for dramatic effect.)

Scene 5: I ponder the merits of not taking my various objects with me. Objects that I’ve curated over my 40 years on the planet. Objects that I’ve hauled around from Iowa to Kentucky to Tennessee to Minneapolis to San Francisco to Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. and back to Tennessee. Objects that I’ve recently acquired. Objects that you can sit on and sleep on. Objects that will fit in an average-sized pocket. Objects that require a truck, if you want to move them more than a few yards. Objects that have histories. Some objects that, while not objectionable, I wouldn’t pick again. Some objects that I love. Objects that are heavy either way, all told.

Scene 6: I decide to get rid of nearly everything. Saying goodbye to both possessions and people commences.

Scene 7: I meet the lady who broke her hip. She asks if she can keep my groovy kitchen table and chairs, the last items remaining that a friend with a pickup was going to help me take to Goodwill later that day. Lady did not use the word “groovy.” Still, lady has taste. Enjoy those fantastic metal vintage cabinets that line the kitchen, lady.

Scene 8: I mail a few things to California, and I pack a few things in my car. I make a run for it but don’t make a scene.

Scene 9: I start a Tumblr along the way to chronicle my adventure.

So charm is now available over there as well, at Charm to Go: an exquisite departure.

Mid-century fantasies, sea monkeys and spies: my domed life

February 10, 2011

Of course, it's an ad for an electric company.


Sometimes life in a bubble looks pretty good, which may or may not have anything to do with Plato.

Nashville’s on-again, off-again interactions with snowishness keep reminding me of this ad in my stash of ’60s ephemera.

“Future homes,” the ad says, “will be able to face in any direction, turned at will by your electricity.”

The optimistic copy goes on to describe the clear dome as a “climate-controlled extension” that allows, obviously, the largely unsung benefits of tending gardens and snowmen simultaneously.

The round walls, the floor-to-ceiling windows, the cheery colors … this dream house is oh-so mid-century, distinctly engineered but also attuned to nature.

Looking at the ad’s appealing mix of domedishness and openness, I started remembering similar images that enchanted me while growing up. Domed wonders through the years:

Cute monkeys? Yes.

Aquarium finery with sea monkeys.

When I was little, those little sea monkey families looked so happy in the pictures that I’m pretty sure I wanted to live with them. I settled for buying some with my allowance money instead, but I found that the creatures (or “brine shrimp,” for you scientists) were not so much adorable as they were unidentifiable.

Also, not huggable.

The carefree picture was, as they say, where it’s at. Do they still say “where it’s at?”

 

Undersea mod? Yes.

Underwater living with Tony Randall.

At some point in my formative years, the 1969 movie Hello, Down There made its way to television. You might want to ask me to sing the theme song for you sometime. In case you missed it, an architect moves his family to an undersea glass house full of appliances that appear at the push of a button. Plot points include a miniature submarine, dolphin visitors and, of course, kids who play in a band. (Spoiler alert: The dolphins love the band!)

Just yes.

 

Romantic escape pod with 007.

Then there’s the scene at the end of The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond and Agent Triple X float away in a deluxe escape pod. This, too, made its way to television.

There was the Cold War, and there was the threat of XXX shooting 007, but then there was also a bar and the bed. It was a most companionable pod.

Telling, yes? Turns out I’m super into pod living. And this progression seems downright fairy tale-like, now that I see these three underwater longings of my childhood and an above-ground, modern one in my adulthood to round things off. Plus, I live in a place now with a totally ‘60s kitchen.

There’s something here in these bubbles about happiness and intimacy. About connecting with the outside world from a solid, comforting place. About wanting to find somewhere to nestle. About generating our own charming metaphoric pods that we can take with us wherever we go. About real vs. ideal. And maybe about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. I mean, if the cave had been really cool with a pop-up bar and maybe rotating walls or whatever. You know what I mean, though — the philosopher’s take on mistaking shadow for form, gaining understanding and recognizing goodness.

I’m not sure what it all means, but I think if I can harness the promise of the sea monkeys, the exuberance of ocean floor living, the sensuosity of secret agent escape pods and the innovation of the ‘60s fantasy house, I’ll be set.

Also, I should probably buy a submarine.

P.S. I don’t really want a submarine.

Zen and the existence of vending machines

December 20, 2010

Wherein the happiness assembly line seems more like a vending machine & furthermore wherein that turns out to be OK because vending machines are so awesome.

Vending machine, metaphor or both?

So I constructed this metaphor a while back about happiness being an assembly line — it takes work to build the life you want. It takes making deliberate choices to embrace what’s good in the world, while not turning away from what’s not so good like an oblivious jerk. Still true.

But it also turns out that life can be all devastating and stuff. I know we all knew that already. But let’s say you find yourself in the most painful, raw experience of your life. The gears of the assembly line get stuck. Actually, the whole thing sort of breaks. You still have to show up for life every day. But your heart might be busy for a while as you reassemble yourself. You might have to settle for a vending machine instead of an assembly line.

Know what I mean? You do what you can, in small pieces. You kick the machine when the things you want get stuck in there. Then you take the other thing that falls out instead.

Or so I decided this weekend when I saw this Santa vending machine. What I love about this temporary change of metaphor is that I love vending machines anyway. I mean, I love the weird ones. I’m assuming you know about the canned bread vending machines, the hot ramen vending machines and the Hello Kitty popcorn vending machines, not to mention the vending machines for unmentionables, umbrellas, fine china and what have you. And I’m assuming you also know that in Japan, you can get, like, tons of varieties of Kit Kats. Which would be an entirely different story except that I decided a long time ago to just go ahead and assume that a Kit Kat-only vending machine also exists somewhere. I guess I don’t need to mention that it’s probably shaped like a cat.

Anyway, it’s not as if I’ve been sitting around the last months waiting for another metaphor. I’ve been doing my best to summon happiness and to deal with my situation by such old standbys as…

  • Sitting with the pain and identifying patterns I see in my life, sometimes while curled under a faux fur blanket.
  • Deciding to be compassionate at every turn, no matter how hard that is.
  • Distracting myself by making art and by watching entire seasons at a time of Veronica Mars and The Wire.
  • Forcing myself to fill my car with gas (um, most of the time) and to walk into grocery stores even though I feel like boycotting life’s details as a way to register my protest with the universe.
  • Letting go of the pain, then picking it up and letting go again. Accepting things as they are, then not and then accepting them again. Repeat.
  • Remembering to live in the moment and appreciate it.
  • Listening to old favorites like Green Day and Spoon when my usual funk-world-hip-hop soundtrack sounds a little too happy to bear.
  • Meditating when I can sit still (brain science!) and saying mantras to myself when I’m about to careen off-track (even if it feels cheesy to admit) (which it does).
  • Wandering outside while appreciating the trees or the night sky.

And I guess it turns out that even if you’re struggling in a way you hadn’t thought possible, you can usually find some change in your pocket for whatever vending machine is in front you — you can muster some interior currency, even if it’s just the choice to get lost in the night sky.

So this particular vending machine that showed up in my inbox is a Santa that walks around with holiday presents inside. And when nothing else all season quite could, this thing registered as nice amid my distress-induced holiday ennui.

I didn’t write a charm-i-days gift guide again this year, but I hereby give you instead a vending-machine-Santa. I think you’re in good hands. Yes, that thing has hands. You’ve been warned.

Two other neat things I’ve recently discovered:

  • Yoshitomo Nara, one of my favorite artists, has a smartphone app. See?
  • A Mary Queen of Scots-themed restaurant opened in New York. See?

A glossary of niceties

July 28, 2010

See letter K. Tastes as good as it looks?

At least one thing that makes me happy for every letter of the alphabet. (Sometimes, a return to fourth-grade formats is in order.)

Ampersands. At once old-fashioned and modern. Efficient and handsome. Sometimes they seem pretentious, and sometimes they seem overly casual. How can all of these things be true of a little symbol? Semiotics. It’s the new “plastics.”

Breathing in the smell of wood smoke in the crisp fall air.

Brain research. Two words: neural plasticity. Good news. (Also two words.)

Cooking. I was staring into my freezer a few evenings ago wondering if it had a meal to offer me when I remembered, “Oh, yeah — I know how to cook.” Suddenly, I was making a roux and unwrapping cheeses. Then 30 minutes later, my cupboards and fridge were emptier, my pans were dirtier and my hunger was gone. All-around satisfying.

DVRs. More focused, commercial-free TV-watching segments of my life.

Experiencing a thunderstorm.

Fonts are fun. Mid-century fonts are perhaps the most fun. Some people enjoy railing against particular fonts. Others simply gaze fondly at the beautiful shapes of certain letters and numbers.

Generosity.

See letter M. And please eat while sitting in pickup truck.

Having time to think about life and stuff. Sometimes while staring at trees, sometimes while driving around, sometimes while cutting out pages from a 1902 Sears catalog or a 1964 magazine and using them for (art?) projects. Sometimes doing those things while not bothering to think at all.

Imitation fur blankets & such. All the softness of rabbits, none of the harming of animals.

Japanese notebooks.

Knowing the center of our galaxy might taste like raspberries.

Loopy. It’s just a great word is all.

Macarons. When possible, by Pierre Hermes. When possible, in Paris. When possible, a box with lots of flavors, such as pistachio, rose, chocolate-passion fruit and salted butter caramel. When possible, also vanilla.

Noticing the place where the sky meets the trees. Seriously, has this juxtaposition ever caught your eye? It catches my breath sometimes, the way it always looks just right. Green leaves against a stormy, gray sky? Yes. Yellow leaves in fall against a bright blue? Yes. Stark, brown branches in winter against white clouds? Yes. I’m telling you — it’s perfect every time.

Orgone, Ozomatli, other funky world music.

See letters P and Z. Me with my brother on our front porch. Yep, it was the '70s.

Oh, what a handy exclamation.

Pickup trucks. Old ones, that is.

Pretty plus. On a childhood back-to-school shopping outing, my brother was miffed that I couldn’t shop in the “pretty plus” section. I explained that it was for people who needed bigger sizes, but he still thought I thought should be able to shop in a section called that. So even though he has no memory of this exchange, he must have thought I was a nice little sister. Sweet.

Queso.

Really sharp pencils.

Root beer floats. AKA black cows. What’s not to like?

Sunlight streaming through a few nearby trees to achieve slight dappling effect. Best enjoyed with eyes closed to feel nuanced interplay of breeze, shade and light.

Things that fit in pockets. Also, pockets.

Underdogs.

Venturing into the unknown.

Waking up to what’s true. Also, waking up to who you really are.

X. Even pirates know it marks the spot.

Yipee, yee-haw and other sentiments of unabashed joy.

Zick it. When my brother and I were in elementary school, we decided to invent our own language so we could communicate privately in any situation. We decided “zick it” was an essential phrase but one that we never would use harshly on each other, as it meant “shut up.” I wish I could remember what “comosito” meant.

Photo credits: Milky Way photo by NASA, macaron photo by Pierre Hermes.

When ‘normal seemed precious’

June 28, 2010

A videographer finds natural rhythms in the mountains again and asks for no other heaven than that.

Eric Rorer's 'I Ask No Other Heaven' captures springtime in northern California.

My friend Eric Rorer lives in northern California, and he’s an incredibly talented photographer, not to mention travel writer. He created a video this spring about the rains returning to Mt. Tamalpais after a drought, and I thought of it again this weekend during a storm here in Tennessee. He talks about how normal things like rain floating in off the ocean can feel precious during uncertain times — and how the return of those natural rhythms makes you want to remember them.

So if you happen to, you know, enjoy nature and stuff, you might want to spend a few minutes watching his video, “I Ask No Other Heaven.” Connecting to the natural world feels so important in our increasingly complicated society, so I was happy to look through Eric’s eyes for a few minutes at wildflowers and mountainsides and waterfalls and mist and the wind rippling through tall grass.

I love that he captures how the mountain’s pace can vary so widely, from moments full of stillness to those that feel quick and eager. And, of course, it makes me think of John Muir, who once wrote:

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

Watch Eric’s video
See his other work

<!–[if !mso]>

A videographer finds natural rhythms in the mountains again and asks for no other heaven than that.

My friend Eric Rorer lives in northern California, and he’s an incredibly talented photographer, not to mention travel writer. He created a video this spring about the rains returning to Mt. Tamalpais after a drought, and I thought of it again this weekend during a storm here in Nashville. He talks about how normal things like rain floating in off the ocean can feel precious during uncertain times.

So just in case you, you know, like nature and stuff, I’m pointing you toward his video, “I Ask No Other Heaven.” I don’t think we can really overstate the importance of connecting to the natural world in our increasingly complicated society, so I was happy to look through Eric’s eyes for a few minutes at wildflowers and mountainsides and waterfalls and mist and the wind rippling through tall grass.

I love that he captures how the pace of mountainside can vary so widely. And, of course, it makes me think of John Muir, who once wrote:

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into

you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

http://vimeo.com/11940949

http://www.ericrorer.com/

Remain on high alert for visionary impulses

January 31, 2010

Four ways to stay inspired, even at the end of January.

William Blake's visions await ...

Navigating the post-holiday, pre-Valentine waters of late January can be tricky. But the solution is quite simple, as it turns out: Just remember how many options you have for staying amused, engaged, inspired and otherwise satisfied.

1. Find visionaries at the push of a button.
As if it weren’t gratifying enough that we can now learn astrophysics whenever we please, as of this month, we can peruse – or even just glance at – William Blake’s notebook on the British Library’s website.

Think of it: the notebook he actually used for 30 years at our fingertips. How amazing is it that so much scholarship is so accessible these days? No one will judge you for feeling breathless.

2. Engage in some artful commerce.
Take your art with you throughout the day instead of leaving it at home on the wall. What have those walls done for you lately anyway?

Hewitt’s darlings

3. When confronted, make no excuse for watching cute animals.
The opportunity for a moment that warms your heart is never farther away than the nearest internet tube. Are there too many animal videos? Yes? Are most of them worth the effort? No. Don’t argue. Don’t discuss with friends. Just watch one now and then, especially if it’s a Japanese commercial with a cat on a business trip or a New York lottery commercial for cuddly animals sleeping or enjoying carnival rides.

4. Let the sandwich be your canvas.
Seriously, have you invented a good sandwich lately? Why, just the other day I mixed mayonnaise with crumbled goat cheese and quite enjoyed the results. Imagine what you could do this time of year if you kept a jar of chutney handy.

The portable art
SFMOMA artist T-shirts, $24.50
Catalina Estrada bowl, $16
Catalina Estrada gel skins, prices vary
Fiona Hewitt small bag, $6.50
Mayonnaise, prices also vary

Charm-i-days: Beyond trinkets

December 19, 2009

Make like Santa without the aid of trimmings or trappings.

Cow-shaped happiness.

While the Charm-i-days gift guide mostly falls on the Things & Totems end of the spectrum, the intent with everything the Charm-o-Matic generates is meaningful celebration. Not the kind of glib obliviousness to the world’s suffering that gives happiness a bad name, but an intelligent way of finding what’s good in the world and making more of it.

Gift-giving also taps into the Activities & Techniques end of the spectrum; sharing is one of the most vital ways of experiencing the world. It’s fun to find little bursts of goodness that appeal directly to each person on your list. And attention, holiday shoppers: Those bursts need not be tangible. If buying presents this year comes from a sense of obligation or creates a sense of budget anxiety, give gifts that don’t cost a dime. Or even a nickel. And while you’re at it, use a few dimes and nickels to help someone who’s hurting.

Finding hope and authentic joy while remaining realistic about the many problems in our world is a challenge. One way to bridge this gap every day is to do small, delightful things purposefully. I hope these trinket-free ideas take you in that direction.

One: Go bauble-free. Last year, the Charm-o-Matic recommended cookie exchanges and homemade coupons to celebrate. You can make those seemingly old chestnuts fresh every year. Consider devising some kind of Friendly Lift of the Month Club. Maybe one month you can cook dinner for someone and another month you can plan an outdoorsy hike for a group of your mutual friends. Gifts that promise togetherness throughout the year highlight (and strengthen) the distinct bond you have with each person on your list.

Two: Go world-wide. Give not only to people you know but also to others who share our pretty little planet.

Heifer International helps families in developing countries. For $20, you can give a flock of chicks, which will add protein-rich eggs to a family’s diet and leave plenty of eggs for them to share or sell as well. For $120, you can give a goat, which supplies milk. Cow-shaped happiness costs $500. If you want to give in the name of someone on your list, you can also send that person a Heifer e-card when you make the donation, which is a sneaky way of giving a last-minute gift. Not that I’m suggesting you would need such an idea. I’m sure you’ve thought everything through, you master planner, you.

Another personal favorite, Care.org has a holiday shop of calendars and T-shirts you can buy to support their work helping women and girls around the world get educated and escape poverty. Dozens of fancy studies show that empowering women and girls creates ripples of positive change around the world.

Finding someone in your community who needs help is also frightfully easy these days. Maybe someone in your neighborhood would appreciate a bag of groceries. In The Hope, Andrew Harvey recommends finding the cause that breaks your heart and dedicating yourself to it.

So baubles or not, happy, merry, sparkly wishes to you … and, you know, the world.

Give animal-gifts from Heifer.org
Give goods from Care.org
Find another cause at Network for Good

Charm-i-days: Two smart, engaging memoirs

December 13, 2009

Dreaming in a new language and dating a transcendent entity: A couple of memoirs for the non-fiction fans on your gift list.

Pretty covers, smart pages.

The general consensus on this year’s best books lists suggests that Lit by Mary Karr is a stand-out memoir, so that one’s going on my personal wish list for the holidays. Two other memoirs of note this year, Dreaming in Hindi and Dating Jesus are also worthy gifts to give.

In Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language, former magazine editor Katherine Russell Rich travels to India after overcoming cancer and then settles into the northwestern part of the country for a year to learn Hindi. She chronicles her experiences – first verbally stumbling at every turn and eventually making jokes and even dreaming in her new language – with a subtle humor and a poetic spirit. Rich also became an expert along the way in linguistics and neuroscience, and she skillfully weaves the latest research about how adults learn second languages into the narrative.

That book won't carry itself.

Rich describes the experiential shock that goes along with the words she’s learning – and the ones she’s missing. “Privacy,” for example, is nonexistent, both in Hindi and in her everyday experience of living in Udaipur. She writes about how geography shapes the psyche as well, and how her senses themselves began to change: “My skin continues to absorb the smell of heat. My ears fill with color…”

Later, she mentions to a linguist, “It was as if in Hindi, I became a different person.” Rich analyzes the research about how language affects thought, but in the end, she’s all about the poetry.

For an extra flourish, pair the book with an exotic-looking fair-trade bag from Ten Thousand Villages.

Another memoir that combines endearing humor and impressive scholarship, Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl preaches the gospel of independence. Journalist Susan Campbell writes thoughtfully about her church-heavy girlhood in Missouri. An irrepressible tomboy, Campbell asked questions sitting in her pew from the start and seemed to always know something wasn’t quite right when she was told that women were expected to remain silent in church. Although she didn’t stick with church, her questions eventually led her to seminary, and she merges her story with the work of philosophers, historians and feminist theologians.

“Fundamentalism broke off in us, didn’t it?” Campbell’s brother once asks her as they attend a church service together as adults. She agrees – it broke off in her like a sword, she muses, and much of Dating Jesus is about Campbell healing that wound.

Balm, not of Gilead.

Recalling her early years, Campbell writes about witnessing door-to-door, playing baseball, taking her fashion cues from The Brady Bunch and singing hymns in four-part harmony. She writes about loving seminary classes many years later, especially when one of her professors says that many of the early Biblical texts subvert the hierarchy. And yes, she writes about dating (and not dating) and dancing (and not dancing) and loving the real Jesus – the egalitarian one – despite what religion has to say about him.

For a little extra flourish, pair the book with a tube of Looking Good for Jesus lip balm and get more “subvert the hierarchy” bang for your buck.

Dreaming in Hindi, $17.16
Hindi-inspired bag, prices vary
Dating Jesus, $10.80
Jesus-inspired lip balm, $5.99

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

Two memoirs for the non-fiction fans on your holiday gift list. Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language and Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl.

The general consensus on this year’s best books lists suggests that Lit by Mary Karr is a stand-out memoir, so that one’s going on my personal wish list for the holidays. Two other memoirs of note this year, Dreaming in Hindi and Dating Jesus are also worthy gifts to give. http://www.amazon.com/Lit-Memoir-Mary-Karr/dp/0060596988/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260499510&sr=1-1

In Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language, former magazine editor Katherine Russell Rich travels to India after overcoming cancer and then settles into the northwestern part of the country for a year to learn Hindi. She chronicles her experiences – first verbally stumbling at every turn and eventually making jokes and even dreaming in her new language – with a subtle humor and a poetic spirit. Rich also became an expert along the way in linguistics and neuroscience, and she skillfully weaves the latest research about how adults learn second languages into the narrative.

Rich describes the experiential shock that goes along with the words she’s learning – and the ones she’s missing. “Privacy,” for example, is nonexistent, both in Hindi and in her everyday experience of living in Udaipur. She writes about how geography shapes the psyche as well, and how her senses themselves began to change: “My skin continues to absorb the smell of heat. My ears fill with color…”

Later, she mentions to a linguist, “It was as if in Hindi, I became a different person.” Rich analyzes the research about how language affects thought, but in the end, she’s all about the poetry.

For an extra flourish, pair the book with an exotic-looking fair-trade bag from Ten Thousand Villages.

http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/bags-and-totes

Another memoir that combines endearing humor and impressive scholarship, Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl preaches the gospel of independence. Journalist Susan Campbell writes thoughtfully about her church-heavy girlhood in Missouri. An irrepressible tomboy, Campbell asked questions sitting in her pew from the start and seemed to always know something wasn’t quite right when she was told that women were expected to remain silent in church. Those questions eventually led her to seminary, and she merges her story with the work of philosophers, historians and feminist theologians.

“Fundamentalism broke off in us, didn’t it?” Campbell’s brother once asks her as they attend a church service together as adults. She agrees – it broke off in her like a sword, she muses, and much of Dating Jesus is about Campbell healing that wound.

Recalling her early years, Campbell writes about witnessing door-to-door, playing baseball, taking her fashion cues from The Brady Bunch and singing hymns in four-part harmony. She writes about loving seminary classes many years later, especially when one of her professors says that many of the early Biblical texts subvert the hierarchy. And yes, she writes about dating (and not dating) and dancing (and not dancing) and loving the real Jesus – the egalitarian one – despite what religion has to say about him.

For a little extra flourish, pair the book with a tube of Looking Good for Jesus lip balm and get more “subvert the hierarchy” bang for your buck.

http://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Hindi-Katherine-Russell-Rich/dp/0618155457/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260540760&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Dating-Jesus-Fundamentalism-Feminism-American/dp/0807010723/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260498462&sr=8-1

Dreaming in Hindi, $17.16

Hindi-inspired bag, prices vary

Dating Jesus, $10.80

Jesus-inspired lip balm, $5.99

http://www.blueq.com/shop/114-catId.117440633_114-productId.0.html


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