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Observations from … April 2023

A summary of posts included on More to Come in April 2023. If you receive my monthly email update, you can skip this one.

During a recent seminar on food injustice, one of our speakers suggested that by clearly articulating our values we can identify ― and hopefully begin to close ― the gap between what we say we believe and how we actually live out those values. For instance, who do we say is of value and who do we actually include at the table when we break bread together? Or more broadly, what do we say we value as a nation and what do our actions show?

In April, More to Come considered these gaps between professions of belief and actions as I explored the intersections of history, community, and current events.


Public libraries tell us a great deal about a community’s civic health, showing the link between what we say we value (children and education) and how we live out that value. In what is becoming a habit, my most recent author interview has topped the list of most-viewed posts. Books for the people is my interview with author Lisa R. Ramsay about her new work — published on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the public library in my hometown — entitled Books and Our Town: A History of the Rutherford County Library System.

In our conversation we explore civic engagement, strong female leadership, and TVA’s early involvement in getting books to rural communities. My mother was a long-time librarian in Murfreesboro and my sister is the current Linebaugh Branch Librarian, so I am pleased to have a Q&A to get this story to readers of More to Come. If you love libraries and local histories, I think you’ll enjoy this post.


In the midst of upheaval, we throw out the word “unprecedented” a great deal. Yes, there are things that haven’t happened before. But even those events can be set in a proper context by understanding history. This month, there were four times I turned to the past ― and those who write about the past ― for help in understanding events swirling around us today.

  • The tragic mass shooting in Nashville, the protests that followed, and the expulsion of two black legislators from Tennessee’s House of Representatives in the wake of their support for the protestors was on my mind in A country that was built on a protest. My native state is one of paradox, and these actions made me very sad for how a minority has resorted to authoritarianism to hold on to power. This all played out on Maundy Thursday, and as one Tennessee resident noted it was beyond ironic “that the Republicans produced a trial that felt rigged to give a foregone conclusion on this day of all days.”
  • Aligning the way we eat with our values is a two-part post, the first of which previews the 2023 St. Alban’s Memorial Lecture Series focusing on how the ways we eat could better align with our social and theological values. There is an important historical narrative describing how our present inequitable food system developed, and that story came through during the seminar. After the series was complete, I posted the videos of those talks to the original post.
  • That discussion on food and faith took place on Earth Day, so it seemed appropriate to repost historian Heather Cox Richardson’s look at its history. Earth Day 2023 is her thoughtful and informative reminder of “an earlier era, one in which Americans recognized a crisis that transcended partisanship and came together to fix it.”
  • Finally, when you feel that all the world “is uniformly a disaster-zone, run by malicious idiots,” read Bad events, good trends. The world is not as bad as we think.


In addition to Lisa Ramsay’s history of my hometown library, I read my usual wide range of books in April.

  • James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, which I review in Faith, race, and the American experience, will upset your equilibrium in all the best ways. This is a revelation of a book that invites us to see the world through different eyes, those of the world’s marginalized and oppressed. 
  • The networks that sustain and shape us is a review of David George Haskell’s “noisy” 2017 book, The Songs of Trees. This is a book of science, but it is also a book of contemplative studies. And philosophy. And modern cultural studies. And yes, even history. Haskell, in repeated visits to twelve individual trees in different settings all around the world, dives deeply into their biology and evolution, as well as the networks that trees depend on and provide to the wider world, including humans.
  • In preparing for an upcoming trip and lectures in Alaska, I read a classic study of Life beyond the road system. Tom Kizza’s book The Wake of the Unseen Object examines native Alaskans life in the back country.


It really wasn’t planned this way, but the Saturday Soundtrack features for April carried forward similar themes. Folksinger Carrie Newcomer’s music at the intersection of the sacred and the ordinary, which I highlight in Room at the table, is so vital today.

  • An invitation to journey and wonder introduces readers to The Arcadian Wild. The young band from Nashville plays progressive folk and bluegrass in the style of Nickel Creek. Their music is an invitation to find rest, to journey, to wonder.
  • In the midst of the pandemic, I asked my son — Andrew Bearden Brown — to curate a soundtrack of his favorite Music for Holy Week. I reposted it here, three years later, because this is timeless music by amazing artists.


Thanks, as always, for reading. As you travel life’s highways, do your best to treat others with kindness, undertake some mindful walking every day, recognize the incredible privilege that most of us have, and think about how to put that privilege to use for good. Women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants, and others can feel especially vulnerable…because they are. Work hard for justice and democracy because the fight never ends.

Finally, try to be nice, always be kind.

More to come…


You can follow More to Come by going to the small “Follow” box that is on the right hand column of the site (on the desktop version) or at the bottom right on your mobile device. It is great to hear from readers, and if you like them feel free to share these posts on your own social media platforms.

For the March 2023 summary, click here.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay


I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.

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