Meet VR
Truth, reconciliation, and tikkun

Bloggers and conversations

This weekend has offered several chances to spend quality time with blog-friends. I had the pleasure of driving to Austin from San Antonio with my friend Gordon (Real Live Preacher), and we talked en route about all kinds of good stuff: his path, my path, formation, call to ministry -- Jewish interpretations of Scripture; how Jews see Christians and vice versa -- the parent/child relationship, seen from both sides...

Once we got to the conference, and registered (standing in a relatively short line, all things considered -- one perk of being a panelist, I guess) we found ourselves sitting in one of the cafe spaces provided by the conference, eating overpriced tacos and talking some more. About Paul and James, globalism and missionary work, Fiddler on the Roof: we went all over the map. And it was terrific. Really, get me started on how much I enjoy this guy's company and I could go on for paragraphs.

An hour or so later, I was picked up outside the Austin Convention Center by Lori of Chatoyance, one of my favorite words-and-pictures blogs. Lori's work has appeared on Qarrtsiluni from time to time -- in fact she's co-editing the new ekphrasis issue with my friend Pica. Anyway, we went to Madam Mam's for dinner, which was delightful.

Lori and I chatted about life, creativity, how each of us came to poetry and to creative work, the intersections of poetry and theology, our individual Jewish journeys, how she found her way to the southwest (and what I miss about this part of the country now that I've fallen in love with the northeast)... Meanwhile we savored green papaya salad and absurdly good spicy noodle soup (mine featured chilies, peanuts, fish balls, and lime) and Thai iced coffee. A perfect erev Shabbat, food and conversation both.

And on Saturday itself, I had two delightful meals with the "Ghost in the Machine: Spirituality Online" panelists. Gordon, Hussein, Kevin, James, and I -- and Gordon's lovely wife Jeneane, a hospital chaplain who also blogs -- spent the lunch hour talking about our forthcoming panel, about our various paths into religion and into blogging, about public and private faces of faith. About the obligations that clergy may have to our readers, and to our communities. About being gadflies and bridge-builders. (And, okay, about what we would do if nobody came to our panel because we were scheduled opposite a panel about porn.)

The panel, of course, was a ton of fun. A surprising number of people came (I'm guessing at least sixty.) We had a lot to say, and people asked good questions and made substantive comments. I felt like we could easily have gone on for longer -- which is probably a sign that one hour was just about perfect. Dinner, too (at El Sol y La Luna, with most of my fellow panelists, and a long table of too many other lovely people to mention) was a lot of fun -- as was the trip to Amy's ice cream afterwards. (And though I didn't join the group doing the hokey-pokey in the middle of S. Congress street, I did witness it, and it was a thing of wonder.)

Three cheers for putting faces with names, and for making blogosphere friendships into face-to-face ones! It's so much fun to see who we are, behind and beyond the words and images we offer up.

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