Monday, February 3rd

Happy Monday, Front Porchers. We’ve got some big stuff coming up. Next week, the inimitable Sam Baker and his band play Actually Unplugged. As we’ve mentioned before, Sam’s unique minimalist folk stylings, paired with themes of faith, loss, and hard choices, make this a perfect date night for the evening before Valentine’s Day. Then, next Sunday, we’ll host Parable at Opal Divine’s. This time, Ray Benson will preach, with an assist from John Burnett. Don’t miss this alternative worship service, led by over thirteen feet of human being.

Today is also the one hundred and forty-third anniversary of the passing of the the Fifteenth Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote regardless of race. As one of the most important amendments to the Constitution (here on the Porch, we’re also big fans of the Twenty-first), it’s pretty clearly a big deal for ensuring that democracy can reign. However,  it took nearly a century for this nation, founded on ideas of freedom, to create such a law demonstrates how often the ethically crucial is overlooked, intentionally or otherwise, until it becomes a pressing need. In honor of this, we invite you this week to think about yourself, your country, or any organization to which you pertain through this lens: What necessary things are we ignoring simply because we haven’t thought about them? What can we change that we didn’t even realize needed changing?

Monday, January 27th

Happy Monday, everyone. It looks like a nice, quiet week here on the Front Porch, so pull up a chair and pour yourself some lemonade. Next week, though, we’ve got Sam Baker coming to play Actually Unplugged. Such an intimate performance, with songs about such light topics as pain, faith, and redemption, make for a perfect Valentine’s date night. The week after next, Ray Benson will join us at Parable.

 

It’s also the the anniversary of the death of Isaak Babel, the great Russian and Jewish writer  killed in Stalin’s Great Purge for criticizing of the Communist Party. Babel’s particular genius is the dignity he grants various characters: Cossacks, Jews, high-ranking political officials, peasants. It was this unflinching gaze into the Other that drew the ire of the Party elite. As a prose stylist, as a storyteller, and as a proponent of the fractured nature of life, Isaak Babel is an inspiration to the Front Porch’s mission of treating all perspectives with dignity.

Monday, January 20th

Happy Monday, Front Porchers, and happy MLK Day. Thanks to everyone who came out for Actually Unplugged and Parable last week. We sure enjoyed them, and hope you did too. Now we’re gearing up for the next month’s Actually Unplugged and Parable. The former is set for Thursday, February 13, and will feature Sam Baker, whose hard-hitting songs about life, death, and faith should set the mood perfectly for the evening before Valentine’s Day. Parable will keep on rolling as well.

The impact and power of Dr. King will be explained and discussed elsewhere, by those far more qualified than I. However, today is also the eighty-ninth birthday Ernesto Cardenal, who deserves recognition as well. Throughout a varied life, Father Cardenal has fought in a violent revolution, studied under Thomas Merton, joined the Sandinistas, founded an aesthetic community, held a cabinet position, been publicly rebuked by a Pope, and nominated for a Nobel Prize in poetry. For more than half a century, he has called for a reassessment of the violence and corruption so entrenched in Nicaraguan politics. It seems fitting that his birthday fall on MLK Day, as it allows us to honor all of those who have fought against the evils of discrimination in all its ugly forms.

Monday, January 13th

Happy Monday, everybody, and happy 46th anniversary of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison performance. To honor such a landmark musical event, we’re hosting a slightly less intense concert on Thursday with Austin’s own Nelo. Come by All Saints’ at 7:30 to see a dynamic acoustic performance from these ACL and SXSW veterans before their brand new album comes out next month. The revamped Parable also takes flight again at 5:30 on Sunday at Opal Divine’s. See yall there.

Monday, January 6th

Good morning, campers. Hope everyone is staying warm on this frigid first Monday of 2014. Fortunately, the Front Porch has some upcoming events to warm you right up. To start off, Austin’s own Nelo performs at Actually Unplugged on Thursday, January 16th. This will be one of their last shows before they release their new, self-titled album. Then, we’ll be rebooting Parable on Sunday, January 19th. Swing by Opal Divine’s on South Congress for some bluegrass, an hour-long worship service, and maybe a couple of beers. If you’re looking for someone to talk to on any other Sunday evening, though, swing by anyways. Steve will be holding court and talking Front Porch stuff every Sunday at Opal Divine’s at 5:30, and he’d love to see you.

It’s also the birthday of Khalil Gibran, who would be one hundred and thirty one years old today. The man from Bsharri, Lebanon, would go on to become the third-bestselling poet of all time, after Shakespeare and Laozi. A true citizen of the world, he said, “The whole earth is my homeland and all men are my fellow countrymen.”

Monday, December 16

Happy Monday, Front Porchers, and happy birthdays to Ludwig van Beethoven, Jane Austen, George Santayana, Wassily Kandinsky, Noël Coward, Margaret Mead, Philip K. Dick, Billy Gibbons, and Bill Hicks (whew). If you can imagine a more diverse group of artists and thinkers, let us know who’s in it. In celebration of these titans of their respective fields, the Front Porch is going to empty out during the holiday season. We’ll be back on January 5th at All Saints’ with our annual Epiphany program, which will start with a eucharist service and finish with a celebration of community and light. We’ll also be bringing back Parable and Actually Unplugged, so keep an eye on this space for more updates.

Monday, December 9th

Hello, everybody. We hope that you, like us, have finally finished digesting Thanksgiving dinner. If you have, we’ve got some events coming up for you to celebrate your newfound liveliness. This Thursday, it’s a special holiday edition of Actually Unplugged, featuring Will Taylor and Karen Mal. And just three days later (that’s Sunday), acoustic hip hop artist, activist, and speaker SaulPaul will lead us at Parable.

In what seems a fittingly seasonable anniversary, it was on this day in 1531 that the Virgin of Guadalupe first appeared to Juan Diego at Tepeyac. I’ve always loved this story: the nervous everyman hero, the dismissive power structure, the synthesis of pagan and Christian mythology. Despite her enshrinement as the New World’s most beloved icon, it’s fitting to remember that the Lady of Guadalupe arose from the ruined temple of the Mesoamerican goddess Tonantzin. Even in the horrific conditions of conquest and colonialism of seventeenth-century Mexico, the confluence of two cultures, two faiths, resulted in the creation of this most holy figure. It’s this confluence of drastically different viewpoints that we try to facilitate here on the Porch, because it’s in this confluence that a multitude of beliefs can be woven together into a single, radiant beauty.

Monday, December 2

Welcome back from Thanksgiving, everybody. Hope that everyone had a good beginning to the holiday season. We’re kicking December off with a Wednesday night gathering at All Saints’ to keep on talking about the Rt. Rev. John Spong’s recent lectures. Come by at 6:30; we have pizza and beer. We’re also moving Actually Unplugged (featuring Will Taylor and some of his talented friends doing some holiday standards) and Parable (featuring the prodigiously gifted and versatile SeanPaul) up a week, to Thursday, December 12, and Sunday, December 15, respectively.

Monday, November 25

Happy Thanksgiving week, everybody. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for here on the Front Porch. We’re very thankful that Actually Unplugged, starring a falcon-like “Truck Month,” was so successful. We’re glad that everyone made it out for such an amazing concert by such a unique and mysterious band.

In my family, Thanksgiving is the Front Porchiest time of the year. We all come together from various sides of the geographic, political, and cultural spectrum, and sit around several tables to talk, laugh, and eat (sometimes to the point of being wheelbarrowed away from the table). We can talk about these differences in a way that we frequently can’t for the rest of the year. This open, safe, and trusting dialogue is, to me, what the Front Porch is all about. It’s what I’m most thankful for.

Monday, November 18

boulevard_du_templeHowdy, Front Porchers. We hope yall are ready for Thursday’s Actually Unplugged with, erm, Truck Month, one of Austin’s premier smoke-and-mirrors musical outfits. We’re also partnering All Saints’ for the Bailey Lecture series this weekend. The Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, an acclaimed thinker and writer, will be speaking on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday about his newest book, The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.

It’s also the two hundred and twenty-sixth birthday of Louis Daguerre, who took the first picture of a human. His 1838 photograph “Boulevard du Temple” shows a shadowy man in the background having his shoes shined. Since Daguerre’s camera required about ten minutes to capture an image, this dirty-shoed person is the only one standing still for long enough to appear in the frame.

This is what the Front Porch’s mission is: to slow down the world long enough to see another human being; to really look at and see, however vaguely, those things which surround us every day and that we still miss because we and everything else are moving so fast. Take some time today to check out some of your own old photos in celebration of old Louis Daguerre, and see what’s there, either in the picture itself or in those memories it brings you.