Month: November 2016

Ants Don’t Get Stuck in Traffic Jams

The Next City website had a recent post by a physicist, Laurie Winkless, entitled 7 Things I Learned While Trying to Figure Out How Cities Work.  Number 3 jumped out at me, and I’ll quote it here: “We’ve all been caught up in phantom traffic jams, where for no discernible reason, traffic builds up and then eases. These traffic shockwaves are officially known as “jamitons,” and they can arise even if everyone is driving perfectly. But ants don’t have the same issue: Even when their highways are packed, they don’t get gridlocked. It seems that it’s because ants self-organize into lanes, and give each other a lot of headway, which buys them more time to react to any incidents up ahead … maybe a lesson in there for us all.” Maybe a lesson indeed!  I looked up from my book on a recent commute on the Metro, when I felt several people rush by my seat.  What was the hurry?  It turns out that they had entered at Gallery Place and were all pushing to …

Reflection. Meekness. Responsibility.

In February 1990, Václav Havel – the great Czech playwright, intellectual, and dissident – made an address to the United States Congress.  Havel had been president of Czechoslovakia for only two months when he made his speech.  However, he had a lifetime of experience in living through, and responding to, different political systems. Among his thoughts that day was the following: “…the salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness, and in human responsibility.” Havel’s words are as important today as ever. Have a good week. More to come… DJB

Six (or Less) Degrees of Separation

My father stayed in touch with people all over the world.  But I was still surprised earlier this week when the Senior Minister of First Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia – where I was speaking – quickly made the association between me and my hyper-connected father. Historic Savannah Foundation invited me to be the guest speaker at their annual meeting, which was being held in the historic sanctuary of First Baptist Church.  In a bit of chit-chat before the meeting began with their senior minister, Dr. John Finley, I mentioned that I grew up attending First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. That’s when Dr. Finley looked at me and asked, “Are you Tom’s son?” I must have looked pretty dumb-founded, because he quickly added, “My first job out of college at Vanderbilt was as a youth minister in First Baptist in Murfreesboro.”  Dr. Finley was there in the mid-1970s for three months, and became friends with my mom and dad, as well as the staff and others.  Daddy kept in touch and even visited Savannah …

For the Son of a Librarian, the Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

I love seeing lists of books recommended by people from all walks of life.  As the son of a children’s librarian and the husband of a children’s reading specialist, books have always been a part of my life. This enthusiasm was brought home to me again when I recently saw a list of recommended readings from President Obama (or, as Inc.com called him, the “Bookworm-in-Chief.”)  It seemed appropriate – the day before the election – to recall all the good things President Obama has brought our way, including an intellectual curiosity about the world. Writer Rebecca Solnit has said, “I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods.”  I know that feeling.  A couple of years ago, in thinking about a lifetime (so far) of reading, I put together my own list of twelve books (plus some bonus reads) that had influenced me. If you click through, you’ll see that the initial one on my list is the first I remember from my childhood. I suspect …

All Souls

Going out in a blaze of glory

Last evening’s Commemoration of All Faithful Departed service at our church was beautiful and personally meaningful.  I had it marked on my calendar for some time, as I wanted to attend to remember my father, who passed away earlier this year. The choir’s music was beautiful, with Mozart’s Requiem interspersed between the readings.  The first of those readings is from the Book of Wisdom and begins, “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment shall ever touch them.” We put the names of loved ones departed into a basket, and during the prayers of the people each name was read while members of the congregation could come forward and light a candle. (As an aside, I loved hearing baseball legend Monte Irvin remembered among the departed.) Lovely. Thoughtful. Deeply moving. And when I saw that The Rev. Emily Griffin was the evening’s preacher, I knew all three of those feelings would continue.  We have three very insightful and thoughtful priests who enlighten us each in their own way with …