Hold It All

Month: January, 2014

Shema, Primo Levi

You who live secure
In your warm houses
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:

Consider whether this is a man,
Who labours in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no. Read the rest of this entry »

Facing the Facts


 In fact, there is no way that I know of apprehending the world from within American culture (with a whole history of exterminism and incorporation behind it) without also apprehending the imperial contest itself.  This, I would say, is a cultural fact of extraordinary political as well as interpretative importance, yet it has not been recognized as such in cultural and literary theory, and is routinely circumvented or occluded in cultural discourses.  To read most cultural deconstructionists, or Marxists, or new historicists is to read writers whose political horizon, whose historical location is within a society and culture deeply enmeshed in imperial domination.  Yet little notice  is taken of this horizon, few acknowledgments of the setting are advanced, little realization of the imperial closure itself is allowed for.  Instead, one has the impression that interpretation of other cultures, texts, and peoples — which at bottom is what all interpretation is about — occurs in a timeless vacuum, so forgiving and permissive as to deliver the interpretation directly into a universalism free from attachment, inhibition, and interest.

–Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism Read the rest of this entry »

They Were Soldiers: Invitation to a Reading Circle

After two Share the Wealth evenings on soldiers’ stories, we invite you to join us in a discussion of  journalist Ann Jones’ book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars–The Untold Story.

We will meet at Suzanne and Tom’s home
3960 Connecticut (63116)
7:00-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday 12 February: Introduction, chapter 1
Wednesday 19  February: chapters 2 & 3
Wednesday 26 February: chapters 4 & 5

Please let us know if you are interested in joining us.

Mark, Andrew, and Suzanne


Share the Wealth, with Christine Padberg: Reading in the Digital Age

In spring 2013, Christine Padberg was granted a sabbatical to explore the intersection of reading and technology, and how colleges can and should support students as they read and study in digital environments.  When asked by her colleagues, friends, and family about her research, she’s found that people have an immediate connection to this topic.  They’ve been eager to discuss their own experiences and challenges with reading online, and invariably these discussions have led to further interesting questions about the present state and future of reading. Here are some angles on this topic we might consider for this Share the Wealth:

  • Maryanne Wolf (psychologist & author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain) says, “We are not only what we read; we are how we read.”  Do you agree?
  • What’s the difference between reading paper-based text and reading digital text?
  • Do you read on/with an electronic device (e.g. Kindle, iPad)?  Why or why not?
  • Does the mediating of role of technology in reading bode well or bode ill for the future of reading?
  • When you’re reading something online and want to annotate or take notes, what’s your method?
  • Is reading a social act or a solitary act?

Two more items for our consideration:

  • If you desire, please see Christine’s ScoopIt page for articles pertinent to this topic:
  • During her sabbatical she discovered this thought-provoking piece of web art that comments on digital text and never fails to both delight and frustrate her… Enjoy!  (Requires Flash.)

Christine is an assistant professor in the English department on the Meramec campus of St. Louis Community College, and currently works with J’Ann Allen, Carol Leslie, and me in the Adult Learning Academy at Forest Park.

Join us on Sunday 2 February
Potluck begins at 6:00 p.m.
Christine begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Jim and J’Ann Allen
4519 Oakland Avenue
Forest Park Southeast


“On Taking Sides” by Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga

We had now made a clean break with the fazendas. We could no longer celebrate the Eucharist under the shelter of these lords of the earth. No more traveling in their cars or airplanes, no more sharing food or whiskey at their tables, no more being “assisted” at Mass by those who were systematically enslaving their lesser brothers. That was no longer the Lord’s Supper! We were losing the friendship of the great and facing up to them. No exploiter or profiteer from exploitation could be a godparent at a baptism, for example. We stopped accepting rides from them, we positively shunned their company and their smiles. We even ceased greeting the most barefaced offenders. (On the other hand, we were winning the trust and love of the poor and oppressed.)

from Pedro Casaldáliga, I Believe in Justice and Hope

Reading/713 (Master Chu)

In reading, you must keep your mind glued to the text. Only when every sentence and every character falls into place have you done a good job of thinking through the work. In general, the student should collect his mind, so that it’s completely tranquil and pure and in its normal activity and tranquility doesn’t run wild or become confused. Only then will he understand the text in all of its detail. Reading like this, he’ll understand the essentials.

From neo-Confucian scholar Chu Hsi, Learning to Be a Sage: Selections from the Conversations of Master Chu, Arranged Topically, translated with a commentary by Daniel K. Gardner.

Wishful Thinking

God knows we’ve been patient
First it was the emails and texts
We wondered what had gotten into her
We weren’t even sure what she was talking about:
“Structural adjustment programs”
“The preferential option”
“Systemic violence”

We were glad she was learning something
We just weren’t sure what it was
Then the spring break trip
Not to Gulf Shores
But to Appalachia
We scratched our heads over that one

And then the theology classes
Leading to a double major
In that and social work
We asked her
“Do you think you could possibly spend five minutes
Thinking about the word practical?”

And then the summer before the semester abroad
All she did was practice Spanish
To get ready for her “immersion”
We thought if she was going to study a language
She could have at least done German
Since that’s half our family

And then she came back from Latin America
And questioned everything–
The church, the government, the university–
Even us!
After a couple of months she calmed down
But she sure knew how to spoil a Sunday dinner

And then her senior year
She spent so much time in one of those neighborhoods
Rather than doing what regular college students do
We told her it wasn’t safe
And that she should use her common sense
But she’d smile and say, “Don’t worry, it’s cool”

At last she’s now finishing that year of service
Or whatever she called it, “solidarity,”
And we’re finally breathing a sigh of relief
We’re looking forward to seeing her get a job and meet a nice person
Now that she’s got this whatever out of her system

Share the Wealth: An Accidental Activist, with Sarah Kuziez

This coming Sunday 26 January, I invite you to join us to be with Sarah Kuziez, a 2013 graduate of Maryville University. Having been inspired by Sarah’s passion, spirit, and resourcefulness, I encouraged her to share some of her story.  She sent me the following for this announcement…

Fear, anticipation, grief…these three words describe my emotions during the first few months after the start of the Syrian Revolution on March 15, 2011. I wanted nothing more than to get involved immediately and voice my opposition to the Syrian regime with the millions already doing so.

Fear for my relatives’ lives inside Syria stopped me at the time. But the fear died with every peaceful protestor that was killed, and standing by was no longer an option.

Now, almost 3 years later, demonstrations, rallies, and fundraisers are just not sufficient to change Syria. Real work and awareness are required for real results, not only in the Syrian community, but throughout every community nationally and internationally.

Syria has always taken up a large part of my heart. And now it has become my passion, my focus, my life.

Join us
And bring a friend
On Sunday 26 January
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Sarah begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Fatima Rhodes
4406 A Laclede Avenue
Central West End



Boeing’s Dr. King, Our Dr. King

You remember your Dr. King
We remember ours

You believe that in these times
Dr. King would like diversity and inclusion

You cite his “content of their character”
“rather than the color of their skin”

Diversity is alive and well at Boeing
Everybody’s welcome to work there

On bombers and bunker busters
If you’ve got the skills

You can make the big bucks
At the company that thrives on war Read the rest of this entry »

A Class This Spring: Improv Wisdom

There are people who prefer to say “Yes,” and there are people who prefer to say “No.” Those who say “Yes” are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say “No” are rewarded by the safety they attain. There are far more “No” sayers around than “Yes” sayers, but you can train one type to behave like the other.
–Keith Johnstone, author of Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre

Dear Friends,

Itching to say “yes” to something, but you’re not sure what?
Looking to be a part of a community of fun, challenge, and encouragement?
Sensing an inner or an outer possibility for your life?

I invite you to consider joining us for a new course I am facilitating this winter/spring, based on the book by Patricia Ryan Madson, Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up. In the prologue to her book, she writes, “Improvisation is a metaphor, a path, and a system; it is a modus operandi that anyone can learn. Imagine a life brimming with spontaneity. See yourself coping effortlessly with a demanding boss, a tired child, a unexpected turn of fate. Hear yourself speaking at a meeting without a script. Feel yourself alive, poised and ready for any adventure. Learn simple techniques used for centuries by actors and musicians, and discover how to apply them to your life. The world of improv is a portal into mindfulness and magic.” Read the rest of this entry »