In an age of over-information, it can be hard to pay attention to what’s igniting our creativity. This new series is my attempt at capturing what got my brain spinning this week.
ONE: Ultra Spiritual Life’s video, episode 38, “What I Love About the Olympics”
TWO: This American Life podcast, episode #592, “Are We There Yet?”
I do not read the news, I do not have cable, and I do not engage in Facebook discussions about politics – which means I’m generally uninformed. That is, except when This American Life or another narrative storytelling podcast I listen to decides to cover current news in their shows.
This particular podcast was so humanizing to these refugees and to the Greek government, both of which are particularly hated at the moment. The section about what it is like to parent in the midst of a refugee camp (and in the midst of a war zone, and then in the midst of a perilous, illegal journey into another country) made me cry, thinking about what that might be like for me, my husband, and my two young children. Definitely worth a listen!
THREE: Tig Notaro’s new memoir, I’m Just a Person
In the same year, Notaro lost her mother, developed and recovered from a serious bacterial infection in her gut, and then discovered that she had bilateral breast cancer. She also reached the highest acclaim of her life as she stepped on stage and declared to an audience expecting a comedy show, “Hello. Good evening. Hello. I have cancer, how are you. Hi, how are you? Is everyone having a good time? I have cancer.” Within hours, she was trending on twitter. That routine became the number one selling comedy album around the world for close to six months.
While some of the writing in the book felt choppy or overdone, I found the story itself compelling, and I was inspired by the way she told her story – sometimes using lists and questionnaires to say things in a different way (like her stepfather’s house rules and the questionnaire the hospital sent to her dead mother).
FOUR: Invisibilia podcast, Season 2, “The Personality Myth”
I often wonder: is it possible for people to change? As a follower of Jesus, this question is particularly personal for me. When I look at my own life – the way I talk to my kids, the things that make me angry, the way I choose to spend my time – I see a woman of mixed motivations. Yes, I want to follow Jesus; and yes, I want to do what I want to do.
The Bible has a lot to say on this subject, but I am a great lover of science – which is why I found this particular episode to be so intriguing.
Using stories from psychology – talking to experts about their research, as well as individuals who have been affected by these ideas – they present a convincing case that what me ME is much more flexible than I sometimes like to admit.
FIVE: #SaveMarinaJoyce Controversy
I like odd people. And let me tell you, Marina Joyce is odd. She’s a YouTube beauty blogger from the UK who started acted… funny in her videos. Her half a million fans became concerned and blew up the Internet with theories – including that she’d had a mental breakdown, that she was a victim of domestic violence, and that she’d been kidnapped by ISIS and was now being forced to make beauty videos and was communicating morse code messages via her blinking. (The Reply All podcast, episode #72, “Dead is Paul,” has a great explanation of the controversy.)
The police checked in on her and confirmed: all was well. Except now, she has asked her fans to contribute toward building her a temple in Peru, so she can be exalted as a deity. So, there’s that.