Mad Maudlin

I’ve started brewing poems lately, after a long time of not.

the circus of our yard on the cusp of fall

the circus of our yard on the cusp of fall

A bit about this one: For many years, I’ve been drawn to a character named Mad Maudlin, who appears in 17th and 18th century Bedlamite ballads. She was the female counterpart to a “Mad Tom o’Bedlam” character, the catch-all term for asylum inmates released to the London streets and left to beg alms.

Most Bedlamite lyrics are from Mad Tom’s point of view—but years ago, I learned to sing one from Mad Maudlin’s, in which she’s been parted from Tom o’Bedlam and goes on a ravenous, lunatic quest to find him.

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I’ll Follow You Into the Dark (Song Series #16)

Jennings Music Building, Bennington College

Jennings Music Building, Bennington College

Possibly this song was written for people like my husband and me. If there’s an afterlife, I don’t know what it’s going to do with us. Rob: Even-keeled, generous, good-hearted agnostic. Me: Moody, half-the-time decent, often-skeptical, pretty left-of-center Christian. I’ve dragged him to Costa Rica and Greece and road-tripping and tent camping all around the country. He’s shown me the quiet pleasures of staying put. Neither of us is going anywhere important without the other.

When we come to the door of the great beyond, if such there be, I think we may sit busking forever just outside the fence, just playing this song, until they start throwing the rotten fruit of Eden at us.

I’ll Follow You Into the Dark

Guitar: Rob Hinst

Vocal: Jen Hinst-White

Written by Ben Gibbard

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Quirky Sermons

Preaching my first sermon at seven months pregnant, 12/1/2013.

Preaching my first sermon at seven months pregnant, 12/1/2013.

I get the pleasure & privilege of giving sermons from time to time, usually from the stage of True North Community Church, a non-denominational Christian church on Long Island. I love it.  I usually crack up laughing in the middle of it. I feel so lucky to do it.

Just so you know: I’ve never gone to seminary; my education consists of a BA and MFA in Writing & Literature. But if you’re curious how a non-religiously-raised writer ended up preaching oddball Christian sermons, see the bottom of this post.

All these videos start with the band, so you’ll have to skip forward a bit to find the sermon…

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More Surprise (Advent for the Skeptical and Weary, Part 6)

I started this series because I started this season feeling skeptical and weary. If you want to catch up, I’ve written about my petulant Christmas card processseasonal depression, the difficulty of hope, and being burnt out on giving and serving. Also: whiskey, crappy chocolate, and our troubling President-elect. Yes, it’s been merry indeed.

But in my last post I started exploring something I hadn’t given much credence to in this series yet: Surprise.

Among the questions I was mulling over this Advent was this:

What to do in a season of giving when you feel like you have nothing more to give?

Infographic from Mercy Corps, which is assisting 470,000 Syrians every month.

Infographic from Mercy Corps, which is assisting 470,000 Syrians every month.

know there is no requirement—ethically, religiously, cosmically, socially, even personally—to give anything more in the weeks leading up to Christmas than at any other time of the year, but something about consciously observing Advent made me want to. I had just written about how Advent looks forward to a better, more just and loving world. However, I also know that thinking of doing anything extra sounds stupid and masochistic when I’ve written so much about feeling spent. Like, hey idiot, just take a pass this year.

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Surprise (Advent for the Skeptical and Weary, Part 5)

I started this series because I started this season feeling skeptical and weary. If you want to catch up, I’ve written about my petulant Christmas card process, seasonal depression, the difficulty of hope, and being burnt out on giving and serving. Also: whiskey, crappy chocolate, and our troubling President-elect. Yes, it’s been merry indeed.

What I haven’t gotten to yet is surprise.

I ended my last post with a conundrum…

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Song Series #15)

This is the wonderful Charlie Hinst. He was born in a snowstorm. It was very cold outside indeed. Six years later, he is this big sweet boy with a big sweet heart… and an uncanny ability to commit things to memory. Like all the words of this song.

While you’re here… I’ve been creating all kinds of other things throughout Advent! Hope a few of these bring you some joy.

Songs

Santa Baby, The Coventry Carol, Gabriel’s Message

Advent for the Skeptical and Weary

A series of mini-essays on my petulant Christmas card process, seasonal depression, the difficulty of hope, weird religious language and getting burned out on service.

Little amusing things

Theological Cage Fight between my two-year-old and St. Augustine.

 

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pears and milk

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click on this image for a very very big version

Milo is asking about God.

He’s two and a half now. He orders me to “say pears” at bedtime when I forget. Saying pears sounds like a beautiful practice to me. To name a pear and then another pear: Limonera, Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou. Or in Latin, maybe, a Mass of pears: Pyrus nivalis, pyrus syriaca, pyrus sacrifolia… As it is, our bedtime prayers are rather repetitive. Charlie, my six-year-old, requires me to pray every night that God “keep away all the poisonous snakes and spiders and dangerous animals.”

So I think Milo must have picked up the name of God from my saying of the pears. And he keeps asking, “Where is she?”

He just assumes she’s a She. One of his first questions about God was “Does she have milk?” He sees drawings of angels and asks “Does she have milk?” I think nursing must have been the best time in his life, because we stopped when he was 14 months old and he’s still reminiscing.

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