Video: The Ursula LeGuin Speech

Ursula LeGuin, writer and revolutionary, died on Monday, 22 January, at age 88. She died at home in Portland, Oregon. Here are a couple of wonderful reflections about her life and farther below is the remarkable address she gave at the National Book Award ceremony in 2014.

Ursula K Le Guin, sci-fi and fantasy author, dies aged 88

Ursula K Le Guin: ‘One of the literary greats of the 20th century’ by Margaret Atwood

Ursula LeGuin’s understated, radical address at the National Book Award ceremony this week on the commodification of literature. What is the nature of freedom?

Video: The Jacqueline Woodson Speech

Jacqueline Woodson wins the 2014 National Book Award Young Adult Literature Winner for Brown Girl Dreaming. The importance of seeing people who look like us mirrored into a larger world and how important it is to talk to our elders before they become ancestors.

Video: James Lee Burke on His Murder Mystery Morality Plays

After Hurricane Katrina, I sent a note off to James Lee Burke asking him to write a short reflection for Sojourners on the tragedy along the Gulf Coast. He responded immediately with a yes and then sent in an appropriately abrasive, truthful indictment of what — and who — some people are willing to sacrifice for their own comfort. (See How Much Are We Willing to Sacrifice To Have Cheap Gasoline?)

This week Religion & Ethics Newsweekly interviewed Burke and let him talk freely about his vast knowledge of history, theology, literature, guns, horses, and Catholicism.

“A Franciscan told me once, ‘Don’t keep track of the score. The score will take care of itself,’” says one of my very favorite writer James Lee Burke.

His best-selling crime novels are full of “biblical imagery, messianic language, the influences of his Roman Catholic boyhood, and a longing for redemption,” according to Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.

(Interview transcript here.)

Brothers K on Love

“At some thoughts one stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love.

Always decide ‘I will combat it by humble love.’ If you resolve on that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world.  Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.”

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

David Anderson’s ‘The Things of This World’

anderson_200_01Friend and fellow poet David E. Anderson has just posted an excellent review essay The Things of This World.

David, who is senior editor at Religion News Service, touches on several books examining the religious sensibilities of famous poets, including Naming Grace by Mary Catherine Hilkert; The World’s Hieroglyphic Beauty by Peter Stitt; The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse edited by Donald Davie; and Cheryl Walker’s God and Elizabeth Bishop.

He also looks at the wonderful Welsh poet R.S. Thomas who died in 2000. Here’s the opening to David’s essay:

For many poets, believers and nonbelievers alike, it is possible to talk about the religious imagination they bring to apprehending reality and describing the world.

Theologically, Christianity provides a language—and some doctrinal and historical metaphors or benchmarks—for two such imaginations: the sacramental and the dialectical. The first is broadly linked to Catholic ways of seeing and understanding God and the world, and the second, equally broadly and generally, to a Protestant sensibility.