Hold It All

Category: Friends

Share the Wealth with Maggie Needham: From Treating Harry Potter as Sacred to Treating Each Other as Sacred

Last January, I started a discussion group based on one of my favorite podcasts, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. This January, I was hired on by the podcast to help manage dozens of local reading groups similarly inspired by the show. (The world is weird.)

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text aims to treat a secular book series as if it were sacred, using traditional religious reading practices and applying them not to the Bible or the Torah, but to J. K. Rowling’s fantasy series. The hosts, Harvard Divinity School grads, say that treating a text as sacred requires three things: trusting the text, rigor and ritual, and reading in community. I loved the podcast, but listening to others do sacred reading wasn’t the same thing as doing it in community, so I gathered other listeners and we began using the podcast’s methodology ourselves.

The weekly discussion group has bridged so much for me: the sacred and secular, my love for fantasy novels and my love for justice, inner spirituality and community growth. In this Share the Wealth, I’ll share what I’ve learned from a year and a half of intentional, rigorous sacred reading, connect some dots between Harry Potter and religion, and maybe try out some spiritual practices with you all.

Me, second from the left, with friends from my discussion group and the hosts of the podcast.

I’m a SLU grad (‘15) currently working at a literacy nonprofit in Chicago and working for Harry Potter and the Sacred Text on the side. I drink lots of earl grey tea and bake sourdough bread.

Join us
Sunday 28 April
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Maggie begins sharing at 6:45 p.m.
At the home of Chris Wallach
5 E. Lake Road
Fenton, MO
63026

From Chris: Directions from Google will take you to the mailbox at the end of my gravel road. Follow the gravel. When you see a three car garage (my mother’s house) look to the right for a right turn. Follow that down to the bottom of the hill and you will arrive at my house.

Text me if you get lost–314-807-8769 (Mark)

Advertisements

Share the Wealth with J’Ann Allen–Entrusted with Poetry: From the Land of the Morning Calm

Sometime in early January I pulled out my collection of Korean poetry in translation and began reading, skimming is a more accurate description. Our granddaughter Michelle, three-fourths Korean, told me she wanted to take a Korean class as part of her curriculum at the local community college. I’d been thrilled. We adopted her mother, Julia, at age 14, when we lived in Seoul, South Korea during the 1970s. I tried, during those two years, to learn Korean and found the language most challenging.

Wanting to find our daughter Julie’s birthmother, we decided, at the invitation of a Jesuit friend, to return to Seoul to teach at Sogang University in the spring of 2001. And this is when Brother Anthony of Taize and a Korean female colleague gifted me with several Korean poetry books in translation.

Yes, two of our daughters are Amerasian: Julia and Julie, but my interest in Amerasians began when, at 13, I first read Pearl Buck. I’ve been intrigued by the Asian culture most of my life, but it’s my recent readings and reflections and how I came to them, I’ll share Sunday night. We’ll probably start by reading a few Korean poems, in translation. If you have one or two Korean poems you’d like to share, please bring them. If you have time, go here.

Join us
Sunday 7 April
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
J’Ann starts sharing at 6:45
At J’Ann and Jim’s home
4519 Oakland Avenue
Forest Park Southeast
63110

 

Share the Wealth with Andrew Wimmer: “Where Can I Invest My Life?”

As a young graduate student, I had the good fortune to be exposed to the thinking of Bernard Lonergan. Lonergan, who died in the mid-eighties, was a Canadian Jesuit philosopher and theologian. Many of my teachers had been students of Lonergan, and through them I had my eyes and heart opened by what Lonergan called his “method.”

There is a certain mystique around the man, often lauded as the finest philosophical mind of the twentieth century, etc., etc. But he wasn’t interested in any of that, and said simply of his big work Insight, that it is “a way of asking people to discover in themselves what they are.”

And what we are, he believed, are creatures born with “a pure and unrestricted desire to know.” A desire that gets thwarted, screwed up, and shut down in all sorts of ways, but which always wells back up in us in the form of questions.

As we’re bombarded by propaganda (and so-called fake news) from every direction, we might find ourselves asking, “How the heck can I know what’s really going on?” “How can I evaluate the competing narratives?” and “What can I do about anything?” or “Where can I invest my life?”

These are Lonergan’s questions. And he offers a concrete, practical, and I would argue life-changing way of moving through them, beginning with his first precept “Be attentive!”

Lonergan taught that self-discovery demands considerable individual responsibility and that honest care for the world is always rooted in self-transcendence. “Concern for the future supposes rare moral attainment,” he wrote, “It calls for what Christians name heroic charity.”

I will enjoy sharing how Lonergan has shaped my own thinking and being, and look forward to seeing how each of you responds to what he has to say.

Join us
Sunday 24 March
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Andrew begins sharing at 6:45
Point your GPS to 1077 S. Newstead, 63110. Park on Newstead. House is on SW corner of Newstead and Arco. Enter front door at 4400 Arco.

Disponibilidade

I first learned this Portuguese word from Mev, when she worked in Brazil among so many radical, radiant Christians. Here’s how she defined it in her book, The Struggle Is One: “a disposition of openness in which one is accessible, available and willing to be inconvenienced by the needs or requests of another person or event.”

This came back to mind this morning as I was reading a column by James Mustich, whose recent book, 1000 Books To Read before You Die: A Life-Changing List I browse almost daily. Here’s the pertinent citation he makes from Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Café:

In his essay, “On the Ontological Mystery,” written in 1932 and published in the fateful year of 1933, [Gabriel] Marcel wrote of the human tendency to become stuck in habits, received ideas, and a narrow-minded attachment to possessions and familiar scenes. Instead he urged his readers to develop a capacity for remaining “available” to situations as they arise. Similar ideas of disponibilité or availability had been explored by other writers, notably André Gide, but Marcel made it his essential existential imperative. He was aware of how rare and difficult it was. Most people fall into what he calls “crispation”: a tensed, encrusted shape in life — “as though each one of us secreted a kind of shell which gradually hardened and imprisoned him.”

May we daily discover the wonders of being available for others.

 

Ale Vazquez

Share the Wealth with Priya Sirohi: Find Out Who You Are and Do It On Purpose: On Leaving Academia

I am currently a former SLU grad undertaking her PhD in Rhetoric at Purdue University. I am also in the process of transitioning out of academia and pursuing a job more filled with light and positive people, and less with toxicity.

The subject of my Share the Wealth this weekend is a description of the path I’ve had to walk before realizing the true nature of academic work, and what I do or do not count as valuable labor. The process has led me through tough extremes and equally rewarding self-discovery. I will conclude my presentation with a group writing exercise. Please bring some paper and a writing utensil!

Join us
Sunday 17 February
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Priya begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Marty and Jerry King
830 Demun Avenue, 3rd floor
Clayton, MO 63105

Share the Wealth with Sarah Dwidar: The Successes and Failures of International Justice and Human Rights Mechanisms

Despite the prevalence of international criminal law and human rights law in our modern geopolitical discourse, both fields are in their infancy – international accountability finding its roots in the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the wake of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, and contemporary human rights law stemming from the birth of the United Nations and post-WWII covenants. We have therefore only recently begun to grasp some of the limitations faced by these areas of law, as well as to address the successes upon which to capitalize and the possible alternatives to an international framework that we embraced not so long ago. Sarah will share her thoughts on this timely issue and reflect on how her professional career has impacted the evolution of her worldview.

Sarah is a SLU alum and St. Louis native currently based in The Hague, the Netherlands. She previously worked as an Associate Legal Officer in the Appeals Chamber of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Prior to this, she was a Visiting Professional in the Trial Division of the International Criminal Court, assigned to cases related to the 2007-08 post-election violence in Kenya. Most recently, Sarah served as Legal Officer at the International Commission on Missing Persons, where her work covered a range of countries and regions including Syria, Iraq and the Western Balkans, as well as subjects including public international law, the implementation of human rights standards in domestic criminal law, and the migration crisis. Prior to moving to The Hague, she interned with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in Washington D.C. In her spare time, Sarah loves to sing in choirs and opera workshops, make pottery, and watch sketch comedy.

Join us!
Sunday 3 February
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Sarah begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Katrina Becker
5918 Loughborough 2N
Saint Louis, MO
63109

Share the Wealth with Lorraine Glass-Harris: Exploring the Un-Conducted Life–Life after the St. Louis Symphony

Lorraine Glass-Harris retired her 43-year-long career with the St. Louis Symphony in 2015. From early childhood, following the family’s dream of a generation of professional musicians, she studied the violin and contemplated the role of music in our society, as she played concerts, traveled the world with the orchestra, and performed with the great conductors and soloists of our times.

Now on the other side of this performing career, she explores her life on its own terms, at her own tempo, to her own script. She shares what it means to go slow, grab the joy, find one’s own pace, create the future from within, some Lessons from the Stage, from Paying Attention, from Living Horizontal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gratitude/909

I spent the afternoon in Benton Park with exuberant Penny Smith  who, last night, pulled out one of her notebooks, opened to a random page and found this advice she’d scribbled down during one of our tête-à-têtes at Northwest Coffee two plus years ago– “Don’t read books by Dostoevsky; read your own journal! — Mark Chmiel”

 

Snowed In

Chris’s driveway, Fenton, MO

Looking Ahead to a Spring Trip to Washington, D.C.

I want to listen to your tales of triumph and disaster

I want to massage your feet, long oppressed by heels

I want to be present to all you cannot say

I want to be restored by seeing your samadhi in the flesh as you whirl around in the kitchen (darshan)

I want to buy you three books (at Busboys and Poets) you will actually want to read before 2020