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I'll Come Speak

    I write and speak on all sorts of topics: ancient Christian spirituality and the Eastern Orthodox faith, the Jesus Prayer, marriage and family, the pro-life cause, cultural issues, and more. You can contact Cynthia Damaskos of the Orthodox Speakers Bureau if you’d like to bring me to an event. This Calendar will let you know when I’m in your neighborhood.

 

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Entries in Arts (28)

Monday
Jan102000

Dark Side of the Moon

[Beliefnet, January 10, 2000]

Some people say that art—make that Art—has become the secular substitute for religion. It sure acts like a religion: it's produced by high priests revered as conduits of a mystical power—in this case, creativity; it's tended and interpreted by initiates trained in its hidden wisdom; and it's mostly incomprehensible to folks on the outside. I've been a big fan of visual arts ever since I was an eight-year-old with my parents' big book of Salvador Dali on my lap. But the fact is, more people don't get Art in our generation than in any one before. Art responds to this by ridiculing them.

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Monday
Sep061999

The Thrill of Naughtiness

[Christianity Today, September 6, 1999]

 
I didn't go to see "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me;" I went to see the historic theater where it happened to be playing. But when those psychedelic colors started spilling off the screen I couldn't resist. Austin Powers, the ersatz James Bond, is a weenie with a Herman's Hermits haircut

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Monday
Mar161998

Poetry for Dummies

[Books & Culture, March, 1998]

Stacks of poetry books are resting on my desk, slim books with shiny covers, like hard little pills of intensity and voluptous emotion. They are the paper equivalent of social x-rays; they exude the philosophy, "You can never be too thin or too rich." No wonder I'm intimidated.

My husband and I agreed to armwrassle a hearty stack o' poetry in preparation for National Poetry Month, and I think we were selected primarily for our ignorance. In my case, it's an ignorance standing in heroic resistance to years of experience. I started out writing poetry, and at the age of 13 won an award for one about a deserted town, I think because of the dead flies on a windowsill. I also got to say "thee" and "nought" and other hoity words you can only use in poems. For ten years I had a ball being a poet. I read and wrote a great deal of the stuff, then gave it up for changing diapers.

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Saturday
Apr201996

Howard Finster

 

Howard Finster’s fame has spread far beyond American shores. The day of this interview found a Japanese camera crew double-booked for the same time slot (“We’ve been planning this for months,” the only English-speaking crew member said, apologetically). This brings something else to Finster’s mind, and he asks the girl at the cash register when the people from a London magazine are coming. “They should put it on the TV news,” he observes. “They could make a little film of it.”

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Sunday
Mar311996

The Women of Disney

[Books & Culture, March-April, 1996]

In the middle of my life’s journey I came to myself alone in a dark plastic poncho at the Haircuttery. It was a few days after my 43rd birthday, and I had not received a Cinderella watch packaged in a tiny clear-plastic glass slipper. For awhile there I received one every birthday, because I kept losing them. That was some years ago. At that time I intended to be a grownup lady one day, and wear a crown and a long fancy dress. Everything about me would get bigger, except my feet; these would get smaller and smaller until they were the same size as Cinderella’s, and I could wear her tiny shoes. I think I kept losing the watches in secret hope of collecting two shoes and making a pair. However, I kept losing the shoes too, so my plans were dashed. In the middle of my life’s journey I see in the big black-framed mirror a grownup lady getting an E-Z Kare haircut, wearing E-Z Kare clothes, which conceal an E-Z Kare figure. I had forgotten my plan to be Cinderella about now, and at this point it’s probably too much trouble.

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Friday
Nov171995

A Books & Culture Field Trip: The Baltimore Book Dump

[Books & Culture, November 1995]

When I was down to the Big City not long ago, my youthful friend Rod took me to his favorite bookstore-cafe. We sat on high stools at a small, sticky square of yellow wood, buffeted by alternative rock flowing from the excellent sound system. I chose, at Rod's suggestion, a designer beer that the menu described as "fruity and complex." Nearby, patrons lingered at blond-wood book racks, perusing the handsome volumes with impressive nonchalance. Diversity spread her amiable wings: elbowpatch-and-beret types mingled easily with Birkenstocker-backpackers en tout noir. So when Rod came up to Baltimore I took him to my favorite book source, across the street from the Friend General Store and Love Nest Package Liquors. The bulky one-story building fills nearly a city block; it is painted rosy beige with deeper-brown trim, and topped with romantic crenellations. The orange metal sign bolted to the wall reads "Baltimore Department of Finance, Bureau of Purchases, Warehouse #9." But those familiar with its charms eschew the formal title; we call it the Baltimore Book Dump.

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Monday
Jul171995

Making It Up is Hard to Do

[Books & Culture, July 17, 1995]

Fiction is delicious, I discovered one day. I was about eight, sitting under the sycamore tree in the back yard and reading my mother's childhood copy of Through the Looking Glass, while idly tearing off and eating the page corners. This old volume is before me now, and it is still full of pleasurable memories, visual, tactile, and even tasty.

The book includes both the Alice stories, with Alice in Wonderland first. The cover, loved to pieces, shows a full-color Alice plumper than Tenniel's familiar version; she is floating down the rabbit hole in a pose of peaceful surrender, one hand on her breast, something like Saint Teresa in Ecstasy. Inside, the book is inscribed in black ink, "To Barbara from 'Inkle Ferber,' Christmas 1930." I have no idea who these people are. (Perhaps my mother stole the volume from another little girl.) The pages are cream-colored, aging to brown at the edges; they are thick and invitingly chewy. The oversized print is charcoal-gray.

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Saturday
Oct011994

Cultvre Vulture

[World, October 1, 1994]

"What is culture?" asks Tom Weller in his funny 1987 book, Culture Made Stupid. "Not the same thing as culture, which a dish full of germs has...No, cvltvre is something nobler, loftier, finer, thicker with pompous adjectives."

If there were a Federal Bureau of Cvltvre, it would be the Smithsonian Institution, which sprawls between the Capital Building and the Washington Monument, paralyzing tourists with its bulk. Although there are fourteen museums in the Institution, its holdings are so vast that only 2% can be shown at once. Museums range from the wildly popular Air and Space (which draws 9 million visitors a year) to lesser-knowns like the Portrait and the Building (yes, a museum about buildings, currently showing a barn).

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