Becoming Chris Kamalski

"There's a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us" ~Don Miller

Tag: Barbara Kingsolver

Keeping Hope, Shedding Complacency.

How do you encourage people to keep their hope, but not their complacency? [Barbara Kingsolver]

A semi-nasty bout of flu + fever (hopefully brought on by the imminent arrival of spring!) kept me prone most of today, trying to prevent getting sicker before the week has really begun. This afforded me a rare privilege throughout the morning though: An uninterrupted chunk of time to read and ponder, oblivious to the world around me. I’ve been slowly working my way through Barbara Kingsolver’s memoir of her family’s journey to live off their farm, as ‘locavores’ for an entire year. It’s been a really thought-provoking book that is pushing both Maxie and I slowly towards taking ownership of our own food intake (First step for us in the right direction: Heading to the best Farmer’s Market in Pretoria, ‘the Boermark,’ every few Saturdays for an increasing amount of our produce, meat, and the best Protea flowers around). A bit evangelistic in its fervor towards all things local, but really convicting and interesting all the while.

Late in the book, Kingsolver quoted a friend of hers named Joan who was making a documentary about climate c hange at the time this book was written. Regarding environmental concerns, her friend asked her, How do you encourage people to keep their hope, but not their complacency? I was stunned at the complexity, yet conviction, found in such a simple sentence. That truly is the question we all must wrestle with in regards to any belief we consider important enough to act out in our lives. I think this may be a central question regarding issues of poverty and injustice in particular: Given the crushing realities of global poverty, how does one continue moving forward while fighting off a mounting cynicism + complacency at how little actually changes?

My two cents: Maybe we think small, local even. One life at a time…

(If you missed our latest [Field Stories] report on our work with inmates in prison, entitled “Refusing To Perish,” click here).

Girl Can Write (Poisonwood)!

This book is rocking my world hardcore these days, as we rapidly reach the end of our second learning posture, Submerging, this week.

I’m still about 140 pages from the end, and am flying through it to finish in time for what will prove to be a fantastic book discussion at Barbara’s house this Thursday night, but let me just say: Wow, does Barbara Kingsolver know how to craft a sentence.  Many of you know me as a chronic-underliner of books, often remarking on what I have left out instead of actually highlighted. I have found myself blocking-off whole passages simply due to their linguistic beauty, as opposed to ‘what they are saying.’  

Chew on this nugget as you fight your case of the “Moondays” (Movie Reference? Comment away, friends):

Let me claim that Africa and I kept company for awhile and then parted ways, as if we were both party to relations with a failed outcome.  Or say I was afflicted with Africa like a bout of a rare disease, from which I have not managed a full recovery…You’ll say I walked across Africa with my wrists unshackled, and now I am one more soul walking free in a white skin, wearing some thread of the stolen goods: cotten or diamonds, freedom at the very least, prosperity.  Some of use know how we came by our fortune, and some of us don’t, but we wear it all the same.  There’s only one question worth asking now: How do we aim to live with it? (Orleanna Price, p. 9).

Or this (Have you ever heard the forest described more vividly?):

Picture the forest.  I want you to be its conscience, the eyes in the trees.  The trees are columns of slick, brindled bark like muscular animals overgrown beyond all reason.  Every space is filled with life: delicate, poisonous frogs war-painted like skeletons, clutched in copulation, secreting their precious eggs onto dripping leaves.  Vines strangling their own kin in the everlasting wrestle for sunlight.  The breathing of monkeys.  A glide of snake belly on branch.  A single-file army of ants biting a mammoth tree into uniform grains and hauling it down to the dark for their ravenous queen.  And, in reply, a choir of seedlings arching their necks out of rotted tree stumps, sucking life out of death.  This forest eats itself and lives forever. (Orleanna Price, p. 5).