Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Erie Wedding Day

I have apologized many times for my awkward, overly sentimental, pseudo poetry...most substantially, here. But we just went on a 'vacation' that took us across the country by plane, to 3 states, 6 different sleeping arrangements, 2 weddings, >700 driving miles with a 2 year old and a 6 month old produced many frazzled moments, many fine memories, giga-bytes of pictures and a poem. Here is the poem:

An Erie Wedding Day

I usually forget that I’m Italian,
though only one generation removed
from Apennine grapes
and German bombs.

But for Erie weddings
I’d simply default
to my Father’s line,
American since Bradford…of the Mayflower.

To me, Erie is the most Italian place on earth.

Today I’m Italian.
The summer wedding
of the youngest daughter
of four immigrant sisters.

The last wedding of a generation.
Next time it will be a funeral.

The cavernous nave of St. Pete’s
half full with affection,
the artistic making
of a generation born an ocean away.

Steal money earned the hard way,
carefully saved, proudly given
in a cultural moment
when one’s prized things
were held in common
in a great stone building
on 10th and Sassafras.

Peter’s translucent form
looks on, engulfed by the tumult
of an unnaturally blue sea.

Other beatific figures
also stand silent, spectral witness
rendered anonymous
by narrative vacuum...

twice martyrs
the cumulative calcareous carcasses
declare God’s glory
through the death of one and millions.

A spattering of communicants
step forward to receive the host
dodging reverse traffic
of toddlers deprived of naps.

Prayers are offered for the dead.
I am startled to hear the name of my Father.
I don’t pray for the dead.
Luther wouldn’t approve…
Calvin even less.
But as the priest intones
a request that they join us
at the eschaton’s great reception
I feel the wet wind
of an ‘Amen’ pass my lips.

Great wedding bells chime
but are twice drowned
by the sound of sirens
in a cacophony of joy and pain.
I can think of no purer symbol
of the life that awaits the bright young couple.

Picture Credits: Spire & Statue

This post was written while listening to: Pachelbel’s Canon

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Year Later: Thoughts on the Blogging of Stanford Gibson

There is a great line at the beginning of the Scrubs clip episode. JD gois into his whimsical flashback face and says:

“I know I’d like to forget all of the terrible things that happened to me, but unfortunately I keep replaying them in my head like some clip show from a bad sit com, to lazy to come up with a fresh story line.”

Then the clips begin to fly.

I have to admit, this post feels like that. But I have been blogging for a year now and I figured I’d do a little retrospective. I am trying to evaluate if blogging is something I want to keep doing. So here is my personal evaluation of my first year of blogging.[1]

Lets start with a highlight reel. Here are my top 5 posts of the year. Since I have only started tracking hits recently (as part of the evaluation of if I want to keep blogging) I don’t know which ones have actually been most popular. But these were my 5 favorites[2].

Top 5
1 My Problem With Religion: A Quantitative Analysis[3]
2 What the F#$% is Wrong With Me: The Proto-Christian Anthropology of Linkin Park[4]
3 Briony’s Unsatifying Atonement
4 Would Chuck Love Me?
5 What do Measles, Urban Density and Anal Sex Have in Common?

And these were the 5 most commented on.

Commented 5
11 Comments - Fragments and Links 4
10 Comments - Revenge of the Paste Eaters: Anatomy of an Undecided Voter
9 Comments - My Problem With Religion: A Quantitative Analysis
8 Comments - Monthly Evangelical Metamorphosis into Gnostic Materialists: 8 Thoughts on the Lord’s Supper
7 Comments - How I Stopped Hating Church

You will notice that there is only one post on both lists. That almost certainly means something about my abilities to self evaluate…but I have no idea what.

So here is my analysis and hoped for adjustments from taking a look back at a year of posts:

I posted over 40 times. That is short of my goal of once a week, but more than every two weeks. I am pretty happy with that. I think if I keep blogging, every two weeks is my sustainable pace. But the more interesting/disturbing trend was what I will call ‘post creep’. I have plotted the word counts of my posts with time (including data on the footnote word count) in the plot below.

It appears that over the course of the year, posts have gotten less frequent and longer. I am not happy with that trend. Long posts are tedious to read and quiet blogs are read less. So one corrective I would like to make is to not be afraid of actual blog posts. At this point, almost everything I am putting up here is essay length. I would like to post more 300-1000 word idea entries (my footnotes are currently approaching that on their own). The ‘Fragments’ posts have become bloated. There were at least 2 things in the last one that should have been their own posts.

Anyway, that is my analysis. I’d love feedback on what the 15 to 20 of you that read this blog think.

Here are some posts I have in the works[5]:

Stories the Bible Doesn't Tell: Reading the Bible with Respect to Genre…Highlight Reel Genre
Thoughts on the new mewithoutYou Album (and concert)
Hikes 1-11
Augustine as Comedian
Multiple part series on Christian Music
-What is Christian Music?
-Why does so much of it Suck?
-The KLOVification of Christian Music.
Do Artists Get Better With Time?: The Killers v Simmons
Lessons from a Year of Preaching
The Spiritual Arc of Modest Mouse
A Couple Mediocre Poems
Freedom vs Happiness: Implications for Marriage
Geology of the Eschaton
[1] I’d like to think of it as a cultural artifact post (like one of my posts about TV, music or movies) where my blog is the cultural artifact analyzed. If that seems pathetically self referential, well, it probably is.
[2] They also happen to give a thematic sampling of what I have written about. I do some philosophy, quite a bit of music and film, early church/patristics stuff and the occasional out of left field post that doesn’t really fit a category. The only major topic I seem to write about that didn’t make the top 5 is ecclesiology. I have tried to stay mostly away from politics.
[3] This is also, probably one of my most difficult posts to get through, but I am really proud of it.
[4] Music and film posts did not seem that popular, but I liked them.
[5] I put lists like this up from time to time. You might notice that surprisingly few of the pieces I start make it to the blog. I think that that is mainly because they don’t end up to have enough substance to turn into essays…but there is definitely enough there for a blog post. That is another thing that I want to change.

"You mean why is there silverware in the pancake drawer. Wa Ha" -Turk