What's Tony Thinking

Housekeeping and Inspiration


First the housekeeping. As many of you noted, there was a glitch on yesterday’s post and link. We’re still in transition to a new “house” for our mailings and lists. Appreciate your patience. Using the “Visit Our Website” button at the top right of my update is the most reliable way to get to the latest post.

For those of you just tuning in now, I am in the process of transitioning parts of my operation from Word Press to Constant Contact. The former had become dicey for maintaining a reliable mailing list and a burden for my web host. The hope is that the new arrangements will be cleaner and more efficient.

Some recipients have found that with the change-over my alerts now go to your Junk or Clutter boxes. Check there if you haven’t heard from me lately (although it that’s happening you’re probably not reading this!). If that is the case, you will need to indicate to your email server that I am a “safe sender.”

Now, on too inspiration.

A couple years ago a friend turned me onto a podcast called, “Econ Talk.” I was receptive to the suggestion because 1) I trust this friend and 2) I feel that many clergy — including me — don’t really get the world of business and economics and are likely to say stupid, or at least, ill-informed things when considering such matters and the people who are engaged in them.

But how do we get from “Econ Talk” to inspiration? Well, sometimes the Econ-talk podcasts are inspirational just because they deal with life’s complexities and challenges honestly as host Russ Roberts talks with very thoughtful people about a broad range of topics. But recently I listened to one Econ-talk episode that had nothing to do, so far as I could tell, with the economy, but which I found deeply moving. So I call it to your attention.

It was a longish interview with poet, writer, attorney and convicted felon, Dwayne Betts, “on books, prison and the “Million Book Project.” His memoir is titled, “A Question of Freedom.”

What was so infectious and inspiring about this podcast was listening to Dwayne Betts talk about books and reading, a subject that is right in my wheelhouse and maybe yours too! At age 16 Betts was sentenced to a nine year stint in prison for car-jacking. In prison, Betts read voraciously. He decided he wanted to be a poet. And he is — among other things.

The podcast is long, but worth every minute. And if you hang in to the very end, you will hear Betts speak one of his own poems. It is incredibly powerful and evocative. Along the way, Betts has some important things to say about race that move the current discussion from abstraction and ideology to the particularities of real human beings.

Betts is also working on “The Million Book Project” to get great 500 libraries in every penal facility in the country and to make those accessible to the incarcerated.

While I’m on podcasts, I will again mention “Crackers and Grape Juice,” where the mission is “talking about faith without stained glass language.” Their most recent interview is with Gretchen Purser, a one-time Republican fundraiser and Christian, who tells it like it is about Trump and Trumpism, including the way the Trumpists ridicule their Evangelical Christian base.

But Purser tells us that Trump was no accident, that the ground work for this had long been in preparation. And she fesses up to her own part in the evils she and we deplore. She says that over several decades prior to Trump Republicans increasingly put winning at whatever cost ahead of principle, and now there are no principles left.

I’m praying for our nation and I’m praying that my own faith might be strong and solid in and for the days ahead.

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