Monday, July 14th

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Happy Monday, Front Porchers, and happy Bastille Day. To celebrate the breaking open, both literally and figuratively, of an oppressive French regime, we’ve schedule a very appropriate Parable. Come by Opal Divine’s Penn Field to hear Evan Smith, journalist extraordinaire and founder of the non-partisan Texas Tribune, interviewed by NPR’s incomparable John Burnett. Our own Rev. Dr. Steve Kinney will celebrate the non-denominational service, and Dave Madden will curate the live music.

It’s also the two hundred and twenty-fourth anniversary of the Priestley Riots, in which a mob burned Joseph Priestley’s Birmingham home to the ground. Priestley was one of England’s great polymaths: he discovered oxygen (which he called “dephlogistated air”); his grapplings with various metaphysical quandaries, notably the unification of science and religion, greatly influenced utilitarianism; he wrote over a hundred and fifty works, including a seminal book on English grammar; he was a Dissenting (or non-Church of England) clergyman; and he was a supporter of toleration of religious and political dissent. As an outspoken supporter of the French revolution, he was targeted by a mob, whipped up by political opponents, which burned down his house and forced him to flee to London. His persecution didn’t end, and he eventually emigrated to Pennsylvania. As one of the true spiritual forbears to the Front Porch, he attempted to synthesize science, spirituality, and everyday life with a spirit of toleration and open communication. While we generally remember July 14th as Bastille Day, a day for freedom and celebration, let’s not forget that just a year later, it led to paranoia, arson, and terror for one of England’s most distinguished thinkers.

Monday, June 9th

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Happy Monday, Front Porchers. First off, a big thank you to Kirk Watson, John Burnett, Dave Madden, Opal Divine’s Penn Field, and everyone who came out for Parable yesterday. We sure enjoyed singing, worshipping, and just hanging out with you. Let’s do it again some time.

As we’ve mentioned before in this space, the Front Porch is fixing to enter a summer-long transition period. We’re going to take a long, hard look at what we’re doing, and we’re going to figure out how to do it better, to emerge from our pupation as a fully-developed organism. If you’d like to be a part of this process, email us, call us, or drop by the office. Or email us, call us, or drop by the office if you just want to talk about Mikhail Bakhtin’s influence on Claude Lévi-Strauss or something.

Today is the sixty-eighth birthday of Deyda Hydara. The Gambian journalist founded the independent newspaper The Point, which was frequently critical of the Gambia’s hostile media environment. His tireless work in exposing government corruption was cut short ten years ago. He was murdered by an unknown gunman while driving home from work. His murder remains unsolved, although whispers persist that the Gambian government was behind the assassination. It’s people like Deyda Hydara, who improve their communities so much with so little recognition from the world at large, who inspire the Front Porch’s mission. We hope that our efforts to root out the darkness of ignorance bear fruit and inspire others to stand together, despite their differences.

Monday, May 26th

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Happy Memorial Day, Front Porchers. Hope yall are enjoying the day off if you have it off, although the weather in Austin may preclude some traditional Memorial Day activities. Our first order of business on this Monday is to thank everyone, particularly Becca Stevens, who made Elephant in the Room possible this past Thursday. If you’re interested in keeping the conversation going, give us a holler.

We’re not really taking our foot off the gas, though: in a couple of weeks, on June 8, we’ll host Parable at Opal Divine’s Penn Field at 5:30. By now, many of you know what to expect: Steve’s earnest and open officiating, John Burnett‘s insightful questions, and Dave Madden‘s wonderful music. Our guest preacher this week is Kirk Watson, state senator of the 14th district. As a father, cancer survivor, former Austin mayor, and–according to the Texas Monthly–one of the state’s best legislators, Kirk’s thoughts on a life of service are not something you want to miss.