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Archive for January, 2010

Reclusive Salinger caught by a photographer, and none too happy about it


We talk here all the time about our criteria for all great art and writing and music and journalism and politics and even preachers and anybody in any creative pursuits and that criteria of course is: Does he or she have something to say.

And boy oh boy, did J.D. Salinger have something to say through the powerful, powerful and mighty powerful voice of that angry and sometimes funny and sometimes even sweet and sensitive and usually wonderfully cynical young man Holden, the greatest young character in literature this side of Mr. Twain’s incredible Huck. And like Mr. Twain’s Huck, Mr. Salinger’s Holden is one of the greatest characters in American literature, period. I’d rank Huck no. 1, Holden no. 2, and would have to think on what character in American literature would rank after that. (Mr. Updike’s “Rabbit” comes to mind, of course.)

And boy oh boy, did Salinger go against the national grain with his obsessive, insistent wall of privacy and distaste for fame. Most writers would die for one hour on Oprah or, at least a nice, quiet, late-night interview with Charlie Rose on PBS if they tend to shy away from the spotlight.
Or, they love to get out there and self-promote because of all the agonizing time they spend alone, writing. Even Mr. Twain relished the spotlight and became practically a stand-up comedian.
But Salinger??? Lord only knows what drove that obsessive, insistent privacy that was so well sustained that even the people in that little New Hampshire town either knew precious little about their famous resident outside town or were very cool about helping him maintain that obsessive privacy.
Well, watch now these two Salinger scholars in an interview with one of the best TV journalists around. Some interesting discussion around the great Mr. J.D. in this.

I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all . . . I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye.
J. D. Salinger

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No one ever told me grief would feel so much like fear.”
— C.S. Lewis

Psalm 34
Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left.

I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.

6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

9 Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,

13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.

14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;

16 the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;

20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.

22 The LORD redeems his servants;
no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.

Footnotes:
Psalm 34:1 This psalm is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
New International Version (NIV)

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Yes, jitterbuggers, it’s been quite a day here at blog central (Jitterbuggingforjesus.com), the blog that is saving the world with its wit, wisdom, provocations and all that, hasn’t it?
Those who viewed this blog site today saw us launch what will be a relentless campaign in the months and possibly years ahead against the so-called “social conservatives” who make so much noise and embarrass us Texans to no end with their constant neanderthal ways on the State Board of Education.
We posted a blurb about a Republican member (of course) of that board, a Ms. Hardy of Weatherford, Tx,, who claims to be an independent who votes against the social conservatives on the board at times, but so what–we want her voted out of office right along with the “social conservatives” who stay up nights worrying about the solid science of evolution which they see, as far as we can tell, as a threat to 2,000 years of Christianity, which withstood the Racas who insisted the world was flat long after solid science proved otherwise.
Ms. Hardy made national news by attacking a deceased writer of children’s books and whisking away with his books by denouncing him as some kind of Marxist Communist.
Problem is, she had the deceased and acclaimed author of children’s books mixed up with an author of the same name as the much respected children’s writer.
Yes, this member of the EDUCATION BOARD FAILED TO DO TWO MINUTES OF HOMEWORK before she made a HUGE mistake that embarrassed my beloved and great state of Texas and took a great book for children right out of our schools.
Take note, Fox News—Ms. Hardy of Weatherford, Texas, would be a great hire for you peeps.
In other news today we acknowledged the death of the great J.D. Salinger who gave the world the great gift of a great book that people like Ms. Hardy work overtime even in 2010 to ban and keep out of schools and that book would of course be the story of that angry, angry young man who so hated phoniness and phonies and mindless nimcapoots (see social conservatives on Texas State Board of Education) Catcher in the Rye.
R.I.P, you crazy reclusive genius Mr. Salinger.
We started out the day here with a bit of a tribute to a United Methodist minister, creative artist and wonderful writer of things Godly and spiritual at her wonderful and mighty fine web site “The Painted Prayerbook.” She would be Jan Richardson, one of our favorites in the blog universe.
We also brought you a grab-bag of quotable quotes and where else but JFJ.com would you get quotable quotes from Jimi Hendrix, Jesus Christ, Paul the Apostle and President Eisenhower (two from him, in fact) in one blog posting?
Huh?
Where else?
That’s what we thought.
Probably the highlight of your whole day was coming here and finding about a 10 minute movie from 1944, I believe it was, giving instructions on how to be a cool cat and jitterbug dance!!!!
This might just be the funniest 10 minute movie Hollywood ever made!
And you got it right here at this crazy blog, didn’t you?
Uh-Huh.
You did.
Well, Jitterbuggers, just you wait until this weekend because we’re having music and videos featuring great singers and bands doing great music about the night life and it’s especially for night owls and insomniacs who crawl like vipers through the suburban streets like a bunch of Steely Dan freaks or something.
Steely Dan–in fact that’s one of the bands (if you can call the great S.D. duo a band) we’ll be featuring music from, but we suspect you might also find some Mick and the boys doing some “Midnight Rambler”-ing, some great country crooner Ray Price doing his great, great song “Night Life” that Willie Nelson wrote for him, and more.
Meanwhile, keep on jitterbugging in the free world, like these fools in this little vid L.K. our research assistant and sometimes contributor sent us:

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Photo of the rarely seen author

The great author and mysterious recluse Mr. J.D. is dead.
Here’s the story from the N.Y. Times on the author of the great American classic Catcher in the Rye:

J. D. Salinger, Enigmatic Author, Dies at 91
Published: January 28, 2010
J. D. Salinger, who was thought at one time to be the most important American writer to emerge since World War II but who then turned his back on success and adulation, becoming the Garbo of letters, famous for not wanting to be famous, died Wednesday at his home in Cornish, N.H., where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years. He was 91.

Mr. Salinger’s literary representative, Harold Ober Associates, announced the death, saying it was of natural causes. “Despite having broken his hip in May,” the agency said, “his health had been excellent until a rather sudden decline after the new year. He was not in any pain before or at the time of his death.”

Mr. Salinger’s literary reputation rests on a slender but enormously influential body of published work: the novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” the collection “Nine Stories” and two compilations, each with two long stories about the fictional Glass family: “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.”

“Catcher” was published in 1951, and its very first sentence, distantly echoing Mark Twain, struck a brash new note in American literature: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

Though not everyone, teachers and librarians especially, was sure what to make of it, “Catcher” became an almost immediate best seller, and its narrator and main character, Holden Caulfield, a teenager newly expelled from prep school, became America’s best-known literary truant since Huckleberry Finn.

With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “g—–”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and quickly attained cult status, especially among the young. Reading “Catcher” used to be an essential rite of passage, almost as important as getting your learner’s permit.

The novel’s allure persists to this day, even if some of Holden’s preoccupations now seem a bit dated, and it continues to sell tens of thousands of copies a year in paperback. Mark David Chapman, who assassinated John Lennon in 1980, even said that the explanation for his act could be found in the pages of “The Catcher in the Rye.” In 1974 Philip Roth wrote, “The response of college students to the work of J. D. Salinger indicates that he, more than anyone else, has not turned his back on the times but, instead, has managed to put his finger on whatever struggle of significance is going on today between self and culture.”

Many critics admired even more “Nine Stories,” which came out in 1953 and helped shape later writers like Mr. Roth, John Updike and Harold Brodkey. The stories were remarkable for their sharp social observation, their pitch-perfect dialogue (Mr. Salinger, who used italics almost as a form of musical notation, was a master not of literary speech but of speech as people actually spoke it), and for the way they demolished whatever was left of the traditional architecture of the short story — the old structure of beginning, middle, end — in favor of an architecture of emotion, in which a story could turn on a tiny alteration of mood or irony. Mr. Updike said he admired “that open-ended Zen quality they have, they way they don’t snap shut.”

Mr. Salinger also perfected the great trick of literary irony — of validating what you mean by saying less than, or even the opposite of, what you intend. Orville Prescott wrote in The Times in 1963: “Rarely if ever in literary history has a handful of stories aroused so much discussion, controversy, praise, denunciation, mystification and interpretation.”

As a young man, Mr. Salinger yearned ardently for just this kind of attention. He bragged in college about his literary talent and ambitions, and wrote swaggering letters to Whit Burnett, the editor of Story magazine. But success, once it arrived, paled quickly for him. He told the editors of Saturday Review that he was “good and sick” of seeing his photograph on the dust jacket of “The Catcher in the Rye” and demanded that it be removed from subsequent editions. He ordered his agent to burn any fan mail.

In 1953 Mr. Salinger, who had been living on East 57th Street in Manhattan, fled the literary world altogether and moved to a 90-acre compound on a wooded hillside in Cornish, N.H. He seemed to be fulfilling Holden’s desire to build himself “a little cabin somewhere with the dough I made and live there for the rest of my life,” away from “any g—– stupid conversation with anybody.”

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“The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.”
—- Paul “Rhymin” Simon, “Everybody Loves the Sound of a Train in the Distance”


“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. ”
— President and World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”
—- Jimi Hendrix

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
—- St. Paul the Apostle, Romans 12: 14-15

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.”
—- Jesus Christ, John 14: 18

“I hate, I despise your festivals, and take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings, I will not accept them. and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like might waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
—- Amos 5: 21-24

“Here in America we believe that our ability to make nuclear weapons is tantamount to a right to make them. We also believe, in this land of Adam Smith, that our ability to make money is also tantamount to a right to make endless amounts of it.
But we have only the ability, not the right, to end life on this planet–only God has the authority to do that; and we have only the ability and not the right to gain more and more possessions for ourselves; that is if ‘the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,’ and we believe in a Lord who proclaims, ‘Let justice roll down like mighty waters.'”
—-William Sloan Coffin (Credo)

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
—- President & World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower

“I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.”
—- Dorothy Day

“Love in reality is a harsh and dreadful thing.”
— Father Zosima the priest in the Brothers Karamazov

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In the photos here: Mr Martin who wrote children’s books, and the reckless and irresponsible Pat Hardy of the Texas Board of Education, the board dominated by ignorant board members who continue to embarrass Texas and should be roundly denounced and voted off the board once and for all. Until then, if you agree that Ms. Hardy needs to be roundly denounced, you can contact her at:
Patricia Hardy (R)
900 North Elm
Weatherford, TX 76086
(817) 598-2968
(817) 598-2833 FAX
sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
*In fairness to her, Ms. Hardy does vote independently at times, against the more hardcore “social conservatives” who seem to believe God created a flat earth. Still, we don’t need her or other “social conservatives” on the Texas Board of Education anymore. This blunder in denouncing Mr. Martin’s book without doing any “homework” was just too huge in terms of blunder.

Dear blog readers:
This is from Religion Dispatches and was written by Lauri Lebo. She’s the author of The Devil in Dover: Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America, a book about the 2005 First Amendment trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover in which intelligent design was ruled creationism.
We in Texas have got to make sure once and for all that these people dominating the Texas Board of Education for so many years now are voted off the board. These people seem to believe that the earth is flat because, after all, the bible speaks of the four corners of the earth. They fear science and evolution. They fear Communists and Marxists who don’t even exist. They fear Truth itself.
May the Truth set them free, and get us free of these reckless and irresponsible board members who we have the power to vote off the board.

The Texas Board of Education, armed with Google and ideological blinders, sees a communist takeover.
As the Board marches on with its dogmatic re-writing of history in its social studies standards, its members inadvertently gave students an important lesson on how not to do their homework
According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram Monday, the board voted to ban the children’s book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle, based on one member’s “research:”

In its haste to sort out the state’s social studies curriculum standards this month, the State Board of Education tossed children’s author Martin, who died in 2004, from a proposal for the third-grade section. Board member Pat Hardy (R-Weatherford), who made the motion, cited books he had written for adults that contain “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system.”

Brown Bear, Brown Bear? Well, no, not exactly.

Apparently, one of the board members, Terri Leo (R-Spring), googled Bill Martin’s name and found out that he had authored a book called, Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation.

Leo emailed Hardy to let her know of the connection, but noted that she had not actually read the book. Hardy said that was good enough for her and made a motion to remove the book from a proposed reading list. Hardy has been trying to pare down the lengthy proposed reading list.

Except that it was a different Bill Martin, a DePaul University philosophy professor. The Bill Martin of the Brown Bear series? He never published anything political, unless you count, as the Star reported, a book he once wrote teaching kids how to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Mother Root

Art by Jan Richardson © 1998, from Jan’s book In Wisdom’s Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2000)


We’ve published a blurb or two before from the Rev. Jan Richardson’s blog “The Painted Prayerbook” and simply can’t say enough in praise of her gifts and talents as a United Methodist minister and spiritual retreat leader and creative artist and writer.

In addition to being such a gifted artist, she meets yer Jitterbugger’s criteria for all creative types be they artists, writers, actors, poets, painters, musicians and candlestick makers and yes, even preachers, which is to say–she always has something to say. Always something fresh, something so incisive as to make you pay attention, something original or imaginative that will make you think. Something entirely free of cliches or platitudes or more of the same-old same-old that so many others have to say in warmed over ways. Her paintings and art are true works of originality, and she writes like an angel. If I were teaching creative writing to college students or anybody aspiring to learn how to write, she’d be a writer I would hold up as exceptional and I could lecture whole hours on the many reasons why she’s so exceptional and why an aspiring writer could go to school on her.

And best of all, she’s an ordained United Methodist minister. Her kind make me proud to be one of those.

With no further trifling ado, here’s her take on Luke 4: 21-30, from “The Painted Prayerbook,” such a mighty fine blog.


In an interview with Terry Gross on her radio program Fresh Air some years ago, author Stephen King commented on how it sometimes happens that the adulation he encounters among readers turns so quickly to animosity. Acknowledging that he has become a lightning rod that draws a certain kind of fan psychology, he described how it occasionally happens that, for instance, “they want your autograph, they want to tell you how much they enjoy your stuff, and if you say look, I’d love to sign your books, but I can’t right now, I’m taking my family out to dinner, or I really have to be over here…their reaction is, go to hell, you son of a…. Just like that, it changes.”

Although it’s pretty easy to spot this adulation-animosity dynamic in its more dramatic forms (“We keep files on them,” King says of some of his readers who live at the farther, scarier reaches of this spectrum), I suspect we each carry this tendency within us in some measure. There’s something in our human psychology—more pronounced in some folks, to be sure, but present to a degree in us all—that tempts us to either idolize or demonize others. In particular, those who are in the public eye become, as Stephen King put it, lightning rods for this kind of phenomenon. Seeing bits and pieces of the life of another—a politician, a movie star, or even—as we observe in today’s gospel lesson—a preacher, we extrapolate from those pieces, put them together in a picture of who we think that person is, often magnifying certain traits (real or imagined) and ignoring others. In the process, we create a caricature that becomes easy to laud or to vilify.

Such responses are rooted in our illusions, in our projections, in our failure to see another for who they are. And because these perceptions are rooted in such shaky ground, it can become stunningly easy to flip from one pole of emotion to the other, usually in the direction of lambasting the one we once lauded.

We see this in today’s gospel lesson, which continues the story from last week of Jesus’ return to his hometown, where he reads from the scroll of Isaiah—those stunning words of good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed—and proclaims to the gathering that these words have been fulfilled in their hearing. As Luke tells the story, Jesus’ teaching initially inspires awe, and then incredulity at what this hometown boy—“Is not this Joseph’s son?”—is speaking.

Jesus challenges their reaction with two stories. Again, as with last week, we see the power of how Jesus the Word carries the scriptures of his people within himself. The stories that Jesus tells to the gathering in the synagogue are stories of two people—one a widow, one a military commander—to whom God sends aid. God sees these people as they are. God knows their need. God meets their need in a way they don’t anticipate and, in the case of Naaman the commander, initially resists.

The subjects of Jesus’ two stories are also foreigners, strangers, people who live outside the covenant that God has with Israel. In telling these stories, and in observing that “no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown,” Jesus challenges his hearers to remember that God crosses all boundaries and borders, including those that exist only in our own minds and hearts. Jesus challenges the way in which we often construct our beliefs about others and how God works in them: not only do we carry assumptions about those who are foreign to us, we also grow fixed in our understandings of those in our midst whom we think we know well. In both cases, our illusions and presumptions can prevent us from seeing the person who is really there, and can hinder us from receiving the sometimes surprising ways by which God is working in the life of this person, and wanting to work in our own life.

The incarnation and work of Jesus, to which we give particular attention in this season of Epiphany, was God’s way of saying to us, I see you. I see you, I know your need, I so want to be with you in your need that I will come among you in your own flesh, a body meeting your body, to see you, to be seen by you. To know you and to be known.

Some of the most powerful moments in the gospels come on those occasions, fairly rare, when someone recognizes who Jesus is: really sees him, knows him, understands what he’s about, perceives him in a balanced way absent of the extremes of adulation or denigration. Think of Peter, proclaiming, “You are the Christ.” Or the women who anoint Jesus in his final days, perceiving who he is and ministering to him in anticipation of the suffering he will soon endure. Or Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, exclaiming “Rabboni!” after Jesus has called her by name. One gets the sense from such stories that these people recognize Jesus because he has recognized them, has truly seen who they are: without illusion, without projection, without judgment, and with the utter and complete love that calls them to move more deeply into the heart of God and into the person God has created and called them to be.

The other lectionary texts this week speak with such brilliance to the power of what it means to seek and be seen by this God who knows us fully. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” God says to Jeremiah, “and before you were born I consecrated you….” “Upon you I have leaned from my birth,” sings the psalmist; “it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.” “For now we see in a mirror, dimly,” Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians, “but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

The spiritual practices we find in the Christian tradition are treasures that help us seek this kind of seeing, this kind of knowing, even if partial: they help us to wipe at least a few of the smudges from the mirror. Amid what is strange and what is familiar—both of which can blind us to what is really present—practices of prayer, silence, spiritual direction, fasting, and the like help us strip away the layers of illusion and false perception. What we find through these practices can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful: who wants to have this kind of mirror, even a dim one, held up to ourselves?

And it is, in part, this experience of seeing themselves in Jesus’ mirror that infuriates the crowd in Luke’s story, flips them from amazement to agony, and prompts them to drive Jesus to the nearest cliff, intending to fling him over the side. We do well here to check our own assumptions and to heed the caution that Sarah Dylan Breuer offers in her excellent reflection on this passage: “And whatever we say about this Sunday’s gospel, please let’s not say that it is in any way about the small-mindedness of Jews in Jesus’ day or any other.” (She also suggests that “it can be dangerous to choose a pulpit too close to a cliff.…”) The impulse to switch from adulation to assault isn’t reserved to any particular group; instead, it’s frighteningly pervasive.

Yet when we allow ourselves to truly see and be seen—when the Christ in me meets and knows and is known by the Christ in you—there is nothing in the world that compares with that. When we can move past our assumptions, our projections, our impulse to build perceptions on paltry fragments and partial sight; when we can open ourselves to the ways that God comes to us both in the stranger and in the one we think we know so well; when we can recognize and respond to the presence of God in another and, in that reflection, recognize the presence of God in our own selves: well, that’s enough to change the world.

So where is God hiding out for you these days? How do you keep your eyes open to the holy that goes in the guise not only of strangers but also of those who are so familiar to you? Upon what do you build your impressions of others? Are there practices that help you see others and yourself more clearly, that help you move beyond assumptions and illusions and imaginings and to see what and who is really there?

In this Epiphany season, in the strange and in the familiar, may we see and know the presence of the Christ who seeks us. Blessings

—————
A native Floridian several generations over, Jan grew up in Evinston, a small community near the university town of Gainesville. The rural landscape, community traditions (including the annual Evinston Thanksgiving dinner in the park that has been taking place for nearly fifty years), and lifelong relationships fostered a rich sense of place, imagination, and ritual that continue to shape Jan’s life.

Jan received bachelor’s degrees in Religion and Creative Writing from Florida State University and a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. She was ordained as a United Methodist minister in 1991. In 1993 she returned to Florida to become the associate pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando. After four years of congregational ministry, Jan received an appointment to a specialized ministry as the Artist-in-Residence at the San Pedro Center, a retreat and conference center of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. Her appointment to San Pedro provided Jan with the freedom to piece together a creative ministry that includes leading retreats and workshops around the country, working as an artist and writer, and journeying one-to-one with folks as a spiritual director.

Jan’s first book, Sacred Journeys: A Woman’s Book of Daily Prayer, appeared in 1995. Growing out of her hunger for a contemplative book that both resonated with and challenged her experience as a woman, and drawing on the lives and writings of more than a hundred women around the world and throughout the centuries, Sacred Journeys became a unique contribution to the landscape of women’s spiritual writing. During the writing of Sacred Journeys, Jan had begun to discover the artist layer of her soul, and her next two books incorporated her artwork along with her writing. Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas was published in 1998, followed by In Wisdom’s Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season.

In many ways Jan’s journey has hinged on books, the reading of them as much as the writing of them. Roger Wieck’s book Painted Prayers: The Book of Hours in Medieval and Renaissance Art, picked up while browsing through a bookshop in Washington, DC, seized Jan’s imagination with its depictions of these remarkable books that incorporated text and images for the purpose of prayer and contemplation. The enchanting influence of these books began to appear in Jan’s work, first with her series The Advent Hours and more recently in the series The Hours of Mary Magdalene.

Her encounter years ago with Malachi McCormick’s edition of Deer’s Cry, published by his small press Stone Street Press, planted an idea that, more than a dozen years later, resulted in the founding of her own small press. Through Wanton Gospeller Press, Jan publishes handcrafted books that wed her elegant charcoal artwork with her writing.

Jan is the director of The Wellspring Studio, LLC, a company that incorporates her vocation as an artist, writer, retreat and workshop leader, and spiritual director. She serves as Visiting Artist at First United Methodist Church of Winter Park, Florida, where she and her sweetheart, the singer-songwriter Garrison Doles, lead The Wellsprings Service, a contemplative worship service. Jan is on the faculty of the Grünewald Guild in Leavenworth, Washington, and is an oblate of St. Brigid of Kildare Monastery, a Methodist-Benedictine community based in St. Joseph, Minnesota.

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