Years ago NPR was my church. That’s National Public Radio, for those not in the know. I would listen every morning and night and on weekends too. I knew the theme music by heart, and exactly when it would come on. I liked the format that mixed news with features, puzzles and even car repair. NPR kept me happy.
These days I will listen to WHRO/WHRV some, but not as much as I did when I was an engineer. In those days I’d evenmap out the NPR stations and frequencies before a road trip, so I’d be sure to catch all the things they considered. Instead I’ve discovered audio books… discovered in the sense that Columbus discovered America… that is, audio books were there, I just didn’t know about them.
On my recent vacation I listened to several books including one humorous one by David Sedaris and a couple of histories.
The first one was “Darwin’s Ghosts – The Secret History of Evolution” a sort of heavy sounding title. It wasn’t really secret. Rebecca Stott used a list from the introduction to Origin of Species to profile about 30 forgotten people. People who Darwin listed as furthering understanding of evolution (and perhaps anticipating it.) It starts with Aristotle, and goes through the French Revolution and the near-lynching of Joseph Priestley in Birmingham. It makes it very clear that studying or publishing on evolution was a crime in 18th and 19th century England and France – at least if you opposed the Biblical Truth of creation.
For much of the book I was thinking of this Sunday’s service topic “The Courage to Fly in the Face of Convention” and how dangerous it still is to be a gay man or woman and especially to be transgender in our world. News reports of LGBT killings continue to appear in my news feed, and also news of courageous persons opposing both the violence and the beliefs. If you think it’s over. It isn’t. I am looking forward to hearing Sheila Dinwiddie’s words on this topic.
The second audio book was “Remembering Whitney” by Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston’s mother. It was a fairly normal memoir by a mother about her famous child. Whitney’s accidental death in 2012 shocked the music industry. What interested me most was the honest description of Cissy’s emotions during various family tragedies. Cissy also spoke clearly of her relationship to her children, her divorced husband, her daughter’s “friend and roommate” Robyn Crawford, and the web of people surrounding her daughter.
While Ghosts was all about facts, Remembering was all about relationship. What Cissy wrote was not verifiable truth, but what was real to her. I heard motherly bias, pride, softening of what might have been hard conversations and resignation in her words. It seemed like the act of writing down a history of her daughter was a way of working through the grief.
Sharing stories is a powerful form of medicine. Sharing stories from the heart can be a balm.
That’s it for this week. Feel free to come and talk.
I love you,
PS: If you get a phone call with caller ID “Jose Ramirez”.. that’s me! It’s a long story.