Many tend to think of community in terms of commonality. But we wonder about that. Could it be that authentic community is born not of sameness but of difference? Could it be that diversity and variety, far from keeping us apart, are precisely what bind us together? Could it be that we are united not by common answers to the same old questions but by common questions to the same old answers? If this sounds like a strange but nonetheless intriguing possibility… welcome to The Front Porch!
At our weekly Sunday Salon we gather to explore the ways in which our differences can actually serve to enrich rather than threaten. As our resident chanteuse Julia Ward observed this past Sunday, there are indeed two opposing forces in the world, but they are not those we typically imagine. They are not good and evil, but love and fear. Fear leads to division, love leads to dialogue; fear inspires rivalry, love inspires reverence; fear builds walls, love breaks them down.
Join us for conversation and song at our weekly Salon: Sundays, 6 p.m. at The Historic Victory Grill.
Those of us on the Porch felt proud of all the folks who dared to show up for our very first Salon last Sunday. They are forever founders and charter members just for getting into their cars on a Sunday evening and being curious and adventurous enough to check it out. And we felt proud of Clifford Gillard and the Victory Grill for being there—for taking a risk and teaming up with us to do this thing.
We gathered together. We shared bread and wine. We sang. And we talked. In the midst of our conversation, folks raised a variety of questions about the Salon and its purpose. “Why are we here? Is this a Christian thing? Will we read scripture? If I’m from some other tradition, sacred or secular, will my voice be welcomed?”
These and similar questions fuel the Salon. So let’s talk about this. It’s important…
There are a lot of songs in the world–like so many treasures awaiting discovery and enjoyment. We are going to curate and post a mix of songs deejayed by a group of folks who know and love the music. These Front Porch Song Mixologists concoct supple potions. This particular mix is hereby dubbed Mix #1.
Each week, we’ll post the sets that emerge from ongoing collaborations between interested deejays scattered across space. Each set will have its own voice for its own time. Each set will combine however many songs it takes to fill about an hour. In the age of “shuffle” it’s hard to say if sequence matters, even if we are making some effort to put them in relative order. There is much to say about each selection but this week we’ll let the songs speak for themselves. It’s a start, a stab, a grappling for something intuitively “Front Porch.”
We’ll play the mix at the Victory Grill when we gather for the Sunday Salon and during the hour between the Salon and Stage. We are experimenting. We are figuring out ways to listen together on the porch!
There are three Mixologists who nominated at least 40 songs for this week’s 13 track mix. We had fun messaging ideas back and forth. Thank you Mike Weinfeld who lives in San Diego, Craig Jenkins who lives in Austin, and John Hughes who lives in Milwaukee. Let us know if you’d like to mix it up with us. Listen at your own risk.
The Front Porch is pleased to kick off the Sunday Night Stage series at the Victory Grill
with musical acrobat John Pointer and friends on September 30th from
8-9:30 pm. We’ll talk about the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), the
state of music in Austin, and anything else that comes up. He’s got a
lot of perspective! He will get us talking with some interesting ideas on how to better cultivate
the live music scene in Austin and work with the musicians who make
it hum. Of course, we’ll also enjoy some great music.
Just back from an international tour, which included Sri Lanka and Rio
de Janeiro, Pointer has established his reputation as an artist who
makes even the most experimental music totally accessible to anyone.
A member of the Cirque du Soleil talent pool, he is an internationally
renowned human beatbox and vocalist. In his solo show he combines
that with acoustic guitar, cello, piano and stomping to create an
organic wall of sound—truly a one-man orchestra. While his performance can
be difficult to explain, it is easy to enjoy. Pointer has performed
in every venue in Austin from Hole in the Wall to Bass Concert Hall,
has made several appearances at SXSW and has won ten Austin Music
We didn’t really know what to call this aspect of The Front Porch. For most Texans, salon conjures up an image of the “beauty parlour”, though its primary meaning has more to do with being a place to receive and entertain guests, or a periodic gathering of people who want to educate themselves through good conversation, or a gallery for showing beautiful art.
Actually, beauty parlour might fit, if we can get beyond the curlers and allow our real intent for the 6pm Sunday Salon to shine through: to dwell together in dialogue each Sunday evening with a diverse group of other people in a way that is, well, beautiful.
Truth be known, we want to create the time and space every Sunday at 6pm to give voice to what we think is an intrinsic human desire for…beauty! It turns out to be very difficult, however, to talk about this without talking about things spiritual and even religious—things like hunger, brokenness, hope, faith, God, light, worship, and love.
We realize these are loaded subjects for many of us, which makes this an inherently risky enterprise.
But we think it’s worth trying to do, if only because we know there are enough folks out there who tire of the violence of the divisive monologue, or grieve the banality of much conventional religious expression, or who simply long, as philosopher David Bentley Hart describes it, for a beauty that “crosses every boundary… and so manifests the God who transcends every division—including that between the transcendent and the immanent” (The Beauty of the Infinite, p. 21).
How we do it remains to be seen. What we know for certain is we can’t do it alone.
So call it what you will: a postmodern worship service, an emergent/alternative Christian faith community, a place to explore the meaning of life with fellow questers, or whatever. We are calling it, for now, The Sunday Salon.
We are creating a café and event space in the heart of Austin to gather people from all walks of life for conversation, entertainment, inspiration, and service. We hope to inspire each other and creatively engage the ideas and issues that impact our community.
We are setting sail. Beginning September 30th, The Front Porch begins hosting weekly gatherings and community events at the historic Victory Grill in East Austin.
Our special focus this fall is on supporting local Austin musicians who for the most part struggle mightily to support themselves, ironically, in the “live musical capital of the world.”
These Sunday evenings will be an eclectic blend of faith, food, music, and conversation. These events will be signature “Front Porch” and will be integral to growing our base of support. Our fall programming will culminate in a benefit concert during the last week in December.
We are also participating in a benefit for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians on October 2nd, 7:30pm. That evening, we host the astonishing “Mother Falcon” in All Saints’ Episcopal Church, in an effort to help raise funds for local musicians in need of health care.
The Front Porch is a haven of hospitality, a hearth for the hungry, and a sanctuary for the wondering wanderer. Please join us! Thank you for your support!
This site intends to post substantial articles from time to time that may foster conversation, learning from one another, civil disagreement, and intellectual stimulation among those associated in any way with The Front Porch.
“Difference & Conversation” will be curated by Frank Richardson.
Frank Richardson is professor (emeritus) of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He spent the first half of his career in counseling psychology, the last half of it in a field that goes by the name of theoretical and philosophical psychology. This shift occurred because he became disenchanted with much of academic and professional psychology and, as a result, has spent most of the last 25 years trying to sort out the wheat from the chaff in the social and behavioral sciences. He has published several books and over a hundred articles and chapters. Recently, with a few colleagues in theoretical psychology, he has been investigating several topics in the area of psychology and religion.