Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Falling Upward: Don Draper Meets Richard Rohr

For the past two years, I've been blogging about manifesting intention in midlife through the very personal lens of my own (and my husband's) experience. A few months ago, I came across Fr. Richard Rohr's fascinating book on midlife spirituality, specifically about the path from the first half of our lives into the second half.

I listened to Falling Upward first, something I do often while gardening, and found myself nodding  and uttering yes and absolutely and you said it in agreement with Rohr (who provided his own narration) quite frequently. Later I read the book, highlighting sentences in almost every paragraph. Here's a link to the book trailer.

I also had the opportunity to discuss it with two dear soul friends this summer. The three of us were deeply moved by the book, different parts standing out in each of our minds, as we recounted our own spiritual journeys so far, and the experiences we've had in our families and churches that echoed with the wisdom in the book.

Last week I had the opportunity to publish a blog post about the book at Image Journal's Good Letters where I volunteer as Literary Editor scheduling and editing posts by the team of regular bloggers and occasional guests. Image's editor is also the director of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University where I received my degree.

Seattle Pacific's motto is: engaging the culture, changing the world. I doubt my guest post changed the world, but I did engage the culture. A bit tired of writing about myself (and also unable to condense my life story into 1,000 words) I wrote about the book and midlife spirituality as it might apply to Mad Men's Don Draper.

Clearly I'm not the only Christian watching Mad Men: thanks to social media, my post has been shared and liked almost 3,000 times—by far the largest number of online readers I've ever had (although I think Alive Now, where I've had poetry printed has a bigger subscription base).

Also, in another wonder of the modern age, the editor of the literary magazine at Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation read my post via an email circulated around her office and has asked me to write a piece in a similar vein for next spring's issue on Transgression.

If any of you have some great suggestions about books, movies, or TV shows that you think would be good to mine for how the characters deal with transgression, leave a comment. Netflix's series House of Cards is something that popped into my head. I might have to watch Orange Is the New Black for research purposes.

Besides sharing the post with you, I also wanted to make an appeal on behalf of Image, a journal that's been around for twenty-five years and has expanded its work with writers and artists of faith into conferences, workshops, fellowships, internships, the Good Letters blog, and more.

Image, the SPU MFA program, and Gregory Wolfe, the man in charge of both, have given me the opportunity to pursue my passion for writing in a community that cares deeply about excellence, craft, and faith, and has also given me the opportunity to develop my skills as an editor, and to share my own writing with Good Letters readers and beyond.

The organization Image contracted with to handle registration for its summer workshops has bilked them (and other nonprofits) out of $65,000 in registration fees. You can read more about that situation in two posts at the Good Letters site. Image is working to raise $25,000 to save it from financial disaster. They've met half their goal since Friday. I invite you to join me in making a contribution (no amount is too small) to the cause.