A much more interesting and carefully curated set of stories than in the last anthology I read (The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (VoluA much more interesting and carefully curated set of stories than in the last anthology I read (The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (Volume 7) , also a 2013 collection). Favorites included: "Old Paint," "Perfect Day," "Swift as a Dream and Fleeting as a Sigh," "Liberty's Daughter," "Waves," and....several others. I also realized how much I liked "Close Encounters," one of the stories featured in both anthologies, after reading it a second time. Such a great collection!...more
Four stars because I learned a lot about Baptist history and diversity I didn't know. For example, my paternal grandfather was a Free Will Baptist preFour stars because I learned a lot about Baptist history and diversity I didn't know. For example, my paternal grandfather was a Free Will Baptist preacher based in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I had NO idea that the Free Will Baptists were probably the first to ordain women in the United States. Wish I'd known that much earlier in life. Also, there are an astounding variety of Baptists (I thought I knew what that meant, but again, I really had no idea)--and much of the diversity originally emerged in the Carolinas and in Southern and Central Appalachia. So, having grown up in this area, I come by my polyglot Baptist heritage quite honestly.
And did you know that there were "home missionaries" sent to the Appalachian region by Baptist groups in other regions in order to "modernize" the mountain people, because "'to modernize was to uplift, to uplift was to Christianize, to Christianize was Americanize...It had to do with dominion over mountain people and their land, driven by the engines of capitalism, of money, not simply the desire to help lost cousins regain their footing in the world today'" (p. 38). Yikes.
This is not to mention the (icky) rhetoric of foreign missions that undoubtably colored the missions that resulted in my Pilipino family trading one colonial religious identity for another (Catholic for Baptist), probably two or three generations back, and helping to secure the unlikely international pairing that made it possible for me to be born.
Gives me a lot to think about in terms of the complex, specifically Baptist relationship to dominant and marginalized culture(s), and Baptist identities as both tools of cultural conquest and as self-conscious cultural resistance. Layers upon layers....more
"All theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography, and that what a theologian is doing essentially is examining as honestly as he can the"All theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography, and that what a theologian is doing essentially is examining as honestly as he can the rough-and-tumble of his own experiences with all its ups and downs, its mysteries and loose ends...I determined to try and describe my own life as evocatively and candidly as I could in the hope that such glimmers of theological truth as I believed I had glimpsed in it would shine through my description more or less on their own. It seemed to me then, and seems to me still, that if God speaks to us at all in this world, if God speaks anywhere, it is into our personal lives that he speaks" (p. 1).
"A crazy, holy grace I have called it. Crazy because whoever could have predicted it? Who can ever foresee the crazy how and when and where of a grace that wells up out of the lostness and pain of the world and of our own inner worlds? And holy because these moments of grace come ultimately from farther away than Oz and deeper down than doom, holy because they heal and hallow. 'For all thy blessings, known and unknown, remembered and forgotten, we give thee thanks,' runs an old prayer, and it is for the all but unknown ones and the more than half-forgotten ones that we do well to look back over the journeys of our lives because it is their presence that makes the life of each of us a sacred journey" (p. 57).
"And I loved them, those others, those friends and teachers....I sensed in them, as in myself, an inner battle against loneliness and the great dark, and to know that they were also battling was to be no longer alone in the same way within myself" (p. 73).
"Listen. Your life is happening. You are happening...A journey, years long, has brought each of you through thick and thin to this moment in time as mine has also brought me....Listen back to the sounds and sweet airs of your journey that give delight and hurt not and to those too that give no delight at all and hurt like Hell. Be not affeard. The music of your life is subtle and elusive and like no other...to haunt you perhaps with the echoes of a vaster, farther music of which it is a part....We cannot live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned to pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music" (p. 77-78).
"What I felt was something better and truer than what I was, or than I am, and it happened, as perhaps all such things do, as a gift" (p. 97)....more