Calling. Marriage. Book Sales.

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Today no lofty thoughts, just acknowledgement of three things I’ve learned that concur with three things that I read in today’s NYT.

1) It is really important to discover your “calling.” Christopher Fry, a British playwright died at 97 and his obituary describes his quest for a call.

” Christopher Fry, the British playwright who created memorable parts for John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and Edith Evans, gave Richard Burton his first role on Broadway, and was primarily responsible for the script of “Ben-Hur,” among other films, died on Thursday in Chichester, England. He was 97¢â‚¬¦ What Mr. Fry always described as the Calling – the compulsion to become a dramatist with his own distinctive voice – remained unfulfilled until 1938, when the vicar of the Sussex village where he was living asked for a play celebrating his church’s jubilee year and suggested that a local saint, Cuthman, would make a good subject. The result was “Boy With a Cart,” a verse drama about the ninth-century shepherd who founded a church after making a miracle-marked journey from Cornwall to Sussex. The play was strongly influenced by “Murder in the Cathedral” by T. S. Eliot, who became Mr. Fry’s friend and mentor.”

Note that the pursuit of his calling brought him into relationship with his mentor. I have found you don’t find your flock of mentors and friends until you find your call, announce it and pursue it.

2) Heterosexuals spearheaded the radical change in marriage. I dislike scapegoating and while I have severe reservations about the state codifying gay marriage, I do not think gays can be blamed for the deterioration of marriage. In a NYT editorial Stephanie Coontz advances how heterosexuals are responsible for the radical changes in marriage . Whether you agree or disagree with her–this article should provoke interesting thought and conversations! Here are her opening thoughts.

“THE last week has been tough for opponents of same-sex marriage. First Canadian and then Spanish legislators voted to legalize the practice, prompting American social conservatives to renew their call for a constitutional amendment banning such marriages here. James Dobson of the evangelical group Focus on the Family has warned that without that ban, marriage as we have known it for 5,000 years will be overturned¢â‚¬¦.My research on marriage and family life seldom leads me to agree with Dr. Dobson, much less to accuse him of understatement. But in this case, Dr. Dobson’s warnings come 30 years too late. Traditional marriage, with its 5,000-year history, has already been upended. Gays and lesbians, however, didn’t spearhead that revolution: heterosexuals did.”

3) It is not enough to write a good book–it has to sell! This is a fun story with a serious point to make.

John Wray, a Brooklyn author, chose to conduct a reading tour by raft to draw attention to his new novel, “Canaan’s Tongue.” (Photo above). He did this because he learned as most writers eventually do that you have to sell books not just write them!

An excerpt of his tale. “I had a bunch of cockamamie schemes to get people to pay attention to the book, and this seemed like the best of them,” Mr. Wray said. He is a serious novelist and poet; his first book, “The Right Hand of Sleep” (Knopf, 2001), was much acclaimed. But he looked remarkably goofy wearing a straw number from one of the raft’s impressively ugly collection of hats. “It has been unbelievable and totally worth it,” he said. “We came out here because it is not enough to write a good book and get reviewed well. I want to write fiction the rest of my life, and to do that you have to sell books. I thought this” – he swept a hand over the craft and the river – “might help.”

How did the scheme work? “The raft set out on June 21. Mr. Wray sold his skeptical publisher on the idea once liabilities were discussed, and Knopf financed the 5,200 dollars in costs. Other than an inland trip to a bookstore in Oxford, Miss., that was spectacular, the readings so far – four in all, strung out along the route – have been a bust. People did not show up in the fetid summer heat, or the local bookstore demurred, or things just did not work out. By Wednesday, fate and the river willing, Mr. Wray will pull into New Orleans after two weeks and 600 miles.”

This quixotic tale is an inspiration to dreamers everywhere and I am one of them. Indulge your inner twain-build a raft–float a river–remember your chidlhood–bring good things to life!

Chew on these things and I’ll. See you tomorrow.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in July 5, 2005 by | No Comments »

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