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 12th

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Happy Monday, Front Porchers. We hope you’re ready for a pretty sweet couple of weeks. First, Terri Hendrix will close down this season of Unplugged on the Front Porch with Lloyd Maines this Thursday (the 15th), at 7:30 in All Saints’ Episcopal Church. Then, on Thursday the 22nd, we’re going to roll out our revamped series Elephant in the Room with the help of Becca Stevens, one of the brightest and best in her field. This all-day event at St. David’s will culminate with Becca’s keynote address “Giving Voice to Hope: Looking at the universal issues of sexual violence and how we can be a part of a movement for women’s freedom.” Help us make this happen by donating. We’ll cap our May with Parable at Opal Divine’s Penn Field. Join Steve, John Burnett, and Tom Spencer–Executive Director of I Live Here, I Give Here and host of KRLU’s Central Texas Gardener–at 5:30 on Sunday the 25th for sacrament and fellowship.

Today is the eighty-eighth anniversary of a combined Norwegian-Italian-American expedition making the first verified trip to the North Pole. The nine-day zeppelin cruise resulted in significant tensions among the 16-man, one-dog expedition, but was still humanity’s first look at the northernmost point on the planet. Previous expeditions, notably those led by Frederick Cook, Robert Peary, and Richard Byrd, had claimed to reach the Pole, but are now dismissed as incorrect, if not fraudulent. The first expedition on the ground to reach the North Pole was led by Wally Herbert in 1969. That such great journeys and discoveries occurred so recently is a strong reminder of just how huge and mysterious our world really is.