Category Archives: Art and culture

Bookmark this resource for better print publications

A couple of years ago I ordered a book called Typography for Lawyers in order to improve the quality of office communications. And it really helped, until I misplaced it. (I’m sure I’ll find it which behind a bookcase one day.)

 

Today I saw this tweet which pointed me to Practical Typography, an abridged version of the book, now as an online publication. This is a wonderful development.

So now I would like you to do two things

  1. Read the section “Typography in ten minutes.”
  2. And give some money to the author. (He recommends $5–$10, so I’ll give $7.50.) It may be the best money you spend all day.

I’ll be referring to this book (and what I do with it) in coming weeks.

The lure of the bright lights…

So I was trolling for Universalism in digitized newspapers (as one does) and I found a short article from 1913, entitled with lurid lettering: Clergyman Turns Actor.

Frederick A. Wilmot, a Tufts grad and assisting (presumably licensed) minister at the Church of the Divine Paternity, New York (now called Fourth Universalist) gave notice and left to tread the boards.

“The humdrum of parish life bored me stiff.” That is the real why, the real wherefore of the transformation of Frederick A. Wilmot from parson to actor…”Why should I devote my life to becoming a fair preacher when all my inclinations point to my becoming a good actor?”

Little did he know then; the Broadway stage wasn’t his future. The Daughter of Heaven was his only credit and it closed after 98 poorly-reviewed performances.

But later that year, he was ordained and installed as the minister of the West (Third) Somerville (Mass.) Universalist Church serving until 1916, and later pastoring in New Bedford. Later references point to a Fitchburg, Mass. pastorate (until 1940), writing the religion beat in Providence, and active participation in Christian ecumenicism. Indeed, it looks like he had a successful ministry.

He died July 22, 1952 in Providence and is buried in the Locust Grove Cemetery there. Shall we visit his grave during General Assembly and give thanks for his ministry: the one that began with such doubt?

Good for him Google (or Facebook) didn’t exist then. And good for him the call reappeared.

Clergyman Turns Actor,” The San Francisco Call, April 13, 1913.

Reading list update, January 12

I’ve finished two more books — not on my list — since I last checked in. Relatively shorter and less difficult than what (I think) appeals to me, so I read them without discouragement!

  1. William L. Barclay. The Lord’s Supper. (2001, of 1965 ed.)
    Brief review of the history and meaning of the sacrament, useful (if gently dated) for ecumenically-minded mainline Protestant churches.
  2. Anya von Bremzen. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. (2013)
    Fascinating family memoir usung food to unpack 20th and 21st century Soviet and Russian history.

2014 book list: Whitebread Protestants

Well I was a little surprised I was able to finish my first book on my 2014 book list so quickly. Less a review to follow than a few notes.

Daniel Sack’s 2000 Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture — despite the title — is a quick but academic review of mainline Protestant food-related practices and politics. If you are looking for a cute book about Protestant food folk ways — Jello and casseroles recipes — you’ll be disappointed.

Its topics include the politics about how communion is served; the role of food in church socializing; the appropriate response to local and global food relief; and how we should live our with respect to food; indeed, I would’ve loved to see each of these chapters its own full length treatment, but if that happened I would have never finish the combined series. Of the chapters, the last one on food reform was the frustratingly thinnest. And I’d love to see how Sack would bring it up to date.

Unitarian Universalists will be particularly interested in chapters on local and global food relief and its politics, keeping in mind the postwar Universalist Service Committee work with the starving Dutch. Interesting pages on the Church World Service and CROP. And I wonder if Unitarian Universalists in the 1970s also used vegetarian-focused “lifestyle” curricula that stirred the mainline. Note to self: see if UUA General Assemblies from 1973 to 1980 took on hunger in general resolutions.

Worth a read.

Starting the new year, family style

Like most Southerners, I want black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. My husband and I thought this was the right time to inaugurate my late grandmother’s West Bend Slo-Cooker.

My father discovered it years ago when he was cleaning out his mother’s house. And wonders of wonders: the cooker, a bank account premium — if you’re old enough to remember those — had never been used. From 1976, no less.

It worked like a charm, and the peas are tasty and vegan. (I used olive oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika and dried basil to taste.)

Happy New Year!

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My reading list for 2014

I’m a notoriously slow reader, so what follows maybe a few weeks, months or the whole year’s worth of reading. In any case, I’ve cleared of my bedside table, called a jubilee for lost reading opportunities, and have replaced them with the following:

  1. Dorothy C. Bass, editor. Practising the faith. 1997.
  2. Douglas John Hall. Thinking the faith. 1991.
  3. Michael P. Katz. The undeserving poor. 2nd edition. 2013.
  4. Daniel Sack. Whitebread Protestants: food and religion in American culture. 2000. Read.
  5. Slavoj Žižek. The year of dreaming dangerously. 2012.

 

The Atheist Church hubbub

There’s been a bit of agita in the Unitarian Universalist blogophere about the propagation of The Sunday Assembly, an atheist church (or church-like experience) that’s getting a lot of buzz.

I wrote about The Sunday Assembly in March, and don’t have more to say on the subject. But whiff of impinged ownership I hear from some Unitarian Universalists — that the Assembly should align with us, or that Assembly-goers should go to Unitarian Universalist congregations instead — makes me chuckle. As Unitarian Universalists, I’ve noticed that we lack the capacity to make a grand, new religious expression — Humanist, Christian, Plural, something else — and even create practical and ideological barriers to success, but then get bent out of shape when anyone else does what we could or should be doing. Or simply pretend that the other effort is a clone of what we do (or think we do.) The flourish of theological universalism among Christian Evangelicals comes to mind. So does alternate Unitarian and Universalist jurisdictions.

The Sunday Assembly will have its own problems. It lacks generations of accumulated wealth churches have. Lacks the experience of managing crisis, and developing leaders. And popular movements often rise and fall as fast as they rise. But what they do is their accomplishment or failure. Some Unitarian Universalists might offer help, but the Sunday Assembly is its own thing and displays of jealously don’t help.

Universalist retro wall plaque

While I writing my blog post about Bible-quote wall hangings, I recalled a small “suitable for framing” poster of the 1899 Universalist “Five Principles” a former (now deceased) church member gave me.

Five Principles poster

I had made a scan of it to share, but can’t find that I had ever done. Over the years, the odd attack and data failure has taken it toll. Or I never put it up.

Let me remedy that.
Five principles poster (PDF, 4.4Mb)

Here’s the text:

Our Universalist Faith
The Universal Fatherhood of God; the Spiritual Authority and Leadership of His Son Jesus Christ; the Trustworthiness of the Bible as containing a Revelation from God; the Certainty of Just Retribution for Sin; the Final Harmony of All Souls with God…