Hello to kottke.org readers!

Last week, a Gen-X Nerd’s dream came true, and Jason Kottke linked to my newsletter. Consequently, about five hundred new folks showed up.

Hi there. *waves*

Here is the least you need to know for all of this to make sense:

Several years ago I was doing street level homeless outreach work, and I was getting burnt out. Actually, that isn’t exactly true: I had been burnt out for years and just not recognized the symptoms. In truth, I was fried. Everything seemed so ugly, so desolate, so bleak.

I decided I needed to look for evidence that the world was not as bad as I thought it was. I needed proof that life was, in fact, beautiful. So I decided to do just that: Look for beautiful things, broadly defined, that would give me life, give me hope, and give me proof that hope was worthwhile and that people were good, despite the mass of evidence around me.

But here is the rub: I am horrible at keeping promises to myself. I am much better at keeping promises to other people, though, so I sent an email to a few friends. It said, in part:

Here is the deal: I am going to send you an email every Monday during Lent (roughly the next six weeks). I will link to five beautiful things I liked that week – perhaps a picture I liked, perhaps a funny story, perhaps something of profound wisdom. In addition, if I read a book that blew me away, I will mention that, and provide a link to it, too. And if it is a week when something is happening I think you should know about, I will let you know in the email.

And that’s it. No lengthy prose, no huge commitments. Just five things that struck me as beautiful, books I read that were wonderful and things I think you should know.

If this works (meaning I keep my commitment to you) then I might keep it up – or I might not. I get bored easy.

So I did it. And then I kept doing it, and then it grew as people shared it with their friends, and then I got a little bored and was about to quit when our nation elected our current President and I saw lots of folks who were also dealing with symptoms I recognized all too well – a combination of anger and helplessness you feel when the world feels like it is collapsing around you and yet you are powerless to stop it.

So I kept going, and it grew some more, and then one day I realized that I no longer knew most of the people on the list anymore, and so I gave it a pretty website and a new name, and then Jason linked to it and here you are.

Here is what you need to know about me: I am 46, and my wife and I live in Jackson, MS on a huge city lot. We just moved here last year to start a new nonprofit that works to get food into neighborhoods affected by food apartheid. My self-care looks a lot like long walks, growing beautiful things and reading weird books. We have cats, who often show up on my Instagram account.

I am Southern, and yes, that’s complicated. It is weird to be from a place that loves you, but does not love people like you. I’m a pastor, and yes, that’s complicated too – I often end up pastoring people who can’t do religion anymore. As my t-shirt says, I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.

Anyway – that’s the deal. I’m glad you are here. I hope you will stick around, and if you want to support my enterprise, you can buy me a book, or become a patron, or just share my stuff with your friends.

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