Archive | Church Matters

The Church of ‘The Biggest Little Farm’

I know I’ve been quiet here. My rule for April has been to say yes to everything–to “Shonda Rhimes it,” as one friend phrased my approach. This has kept me busy and helped out my bank account. It’s also made my life fuller and more joyous.

But such a jam-packed scheduled hasn’t left time for blog updates.

Still, I wanted to post the lecture I gave this morning to the Westchester Cinema Club, which was having its last meeting at the Greenburgh Cinemas and possibly its last meeting altogether. I have given thirty lectures to this club over the years, mostly about films I have loved dearly. But even when I haven’t been enthused about the film, I’ve been enthusiastic about the club members. Mostly seventy- and eighty-something, they offer a perspective that I pray to someday achieve.

For this final lecture, I discussed The Biggest Little Farm, a documentary about a married couple who start a farm an hour north of Los Angeles. Continue Reading →

The Church of Menschen (See What I Did There?)

The “not cute one,” if you can believe them apples.

The great Eve Babitz tells a story of being out one night with a friend who had extreme cheekbones.

It is my opinion that people with extreme cheekbones make all other beauties look like children’s drawings, even if this latest batch of young people don’t seem to recognize this fact and I wouldn’t wish this level of beauty on anyone. I do not say this because I have extreme cheekbones; I have decent ones.

My mother has extreme cheekbones.

Anyway, Eve and this friend were sitting at Barney’s Beanery, because this is where Eve always could be found in her wonderfully misspent youth. And a man approached them. Even a block away it was apparent this man was just the strain of trouble that some extreme beauties seek because everything else is too easy. He was unapologetically drunk, for one thing, and he also had a lot of dark wavy hair and a very arrogant manner. Continue Reading →

How to Build a Home Altar

What follows is a service piece I wrote for [outlet name redacted]. The assignment got canned, but still may prove useful on this sweet spring Sunday. May it help manifest what you need!

Once considered the domain of stalkers and the abjectly religious, home altars are starting to be mainstreamed much like yoga and meditation were twenty years ago. To quote the domestic goddess Martha Stewart, that’s a good thing. A home altar can be wonderfully restorative, whether you’re seeking a fresh start, feeling overwhelmed, or grieving a significant loss.

An altar is a sacred space. This does not mean that you have to believe in a higher power, but it’s useful to believe in yourself–your ability to heal and to receive support. In the age of online everything, it helps to have a physical place to channel dreams and strong emotions constructively so they don’t hold you hostage.

“I think altars are appealing to a wider range of people because we’re experiencing a more chaotic political climate and an oversaturation of technology,” says my good friend Cat Cabral. A self-proclaimed “modern witch,” she is the author of Chronicle Book’s upcoming The Spells Decks. “There’s an increased need for control and self-mastery, and they’re a tangible way to get in touch with the elements and our deepest feelings, especially since so many of us are disconnected from ourselves and the outdoors.”

As is so often the case, I agree with Cat. An altar is a visual reminder of nature’s power as well as our own. It’s a physical reflection of who and what we love, and who and how we want to be. And that’s the best sort of practical magic.

A few guidelines to creating an altar of your own. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy