reviews

Q&A with Kyndall Rothaus, Author of Preacher Breath

Front Cover

It’s with great joy that I’m hosting this Q&A with my friend Kyndall (pronounced like Kindle. In fact, we call her Kindle Fire in our house.) Rothaus.  Kyndall is a preacher-poet. Ever met one? Me neither. Let me say this: everybody needs a preacher-poet in their life. Kyndall recently published a book all my preacher peeps have to read, and I asked her to do a Q&A for the blog to start getting the word out. 

TS: Kyndall, thank you so much for stopping by my blog and doing a Q&A about Preacher Breath. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time! Ok, how about I give you a question that sounds kind of artsy and awesome and gives you a wordy challenge. You are a poet, after all. Here goes. Give us your resume in 10 words: 

KR: pastor, poet, lover-of-words-and-nature, very solidly human

TS: Yup. That describes the Kyndall I know, at least. Ok, how about something juicy. Three pet peeves: 

KR: ?

TS: Seriously? No pet peeves to report? I assume those will be revealed in your second book. Moving on… Three hidden talents?

KR: I am an eighty percent free throw shooter, I can fit in small spaces, and I am almost always the coldest person in a room no matter how many layers I am wearing, which I find remarkably inexplicable.

TS:  How about three writers who influence your work?

KR: Hard to narrow it down to three! At the current moment, these three writers are near the top of the list: Anne Lamott, Richard Rohr, and Alice Walker.

TS: Ok, so the reason we’re all here. You just published a book! Tell us a little about your book, Preacher Breath

KR: Preacher Breath is a written reflection of my ongoing journey to live as a wholehearted person, to preach with sincerity and imagination, and to approach both Scripture and world with a sense of wonder and playfulness. The last two years of my life have been extremely difficult, but out of that dark place emerged this book—evidence to me of the light that dawns after long nights.

TS: Who is the target audience?

KR: I sorta see Preacher Breath being for anyone on the journey towards an authentic life, but of course I imagine it having a special appeal to preachers who are fed up trying to be perfect.

TS: Wait, I’m supposed to be trying to be perfect? Ha! I know what you mean. As a pastor, I found it to be so affirming and just… gentle. I love how yur book is organized around the human body. There are chapters like “Heart: Purpose in Preaching” and “Veins: Emotion in Preaching.” So clever and so true. How did you come up with that? Was there one chapter/part of the body that inspired all the others? 

KR: The chapter titles sort of just poured out of me. But I think the chapters happened that way because the connection of the body to the soul has been a significant aspect of my spiritual growth. I want a full-bodied faith, you know? It’s easier for me to stay stuck in my own mind, but I’m on a quest to let faith seep all the way down to my toes. A disembodied religion just doesn’t do justice to the miracle of the

preacher, poet, friend, Kyndall

  incarnation. 

TS: The chapter that was the most interesting to me was “Skin: Vulnerability in Preaching.” With Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability, it seems to be a “hot topic.” For me, I always feel like I’m walking a thin line between some of the things you say (vulnerability is good for the congregation when tastefully expressed) and some of the other wisdom I’ve heard (namely that too much vulnerability or “falling apart” is unhealthy for the congregation.) How do you balance the two? How does a preacher know when she is being “tastefully” vulnerable, or just a wreck? 

KR: Well, the preacher rarely knows for certain when she is being tastefully vulnerable versus being a wreck. You have to make your best guess and go with it. I know my natural tendency is to be private and to hide, so if something is prompting me to be more honest and open, that prompting is probably exactly what I need to do. I don’t know how to balance it perfectly, but I do think it helps to pay attention to your motives. If you’re being “vulnerable” to get attention, to make people feel sorry for you, or to try and feel better, that may be a sign you are falling apart and expecting the congregation to fix you, which won’t work. If you’re self-disclosing your human struggle and feel scared to death what will happen when you do, chances are, you’re on the right track.

If you believe your troubles are worse than anyone else around you, and that by sharing them, you’ll get sympathy, this is not good. If you think by daring to expose what is most personal to you may in fact have the capacity to resonate with other hurting people, this is good. Very good. I think it means you’re getting it—that we are all having a hard time and that we are all connected.

Share in order to connect, not to get attention. But do share. If you want your people to stop hiding, you have to be willing to go first.

TS: Which chapter/passage of the book are you most proud of, and why? 

KR: Well, I feel proud of “Bones,” but it is hard to explain why—I’m not even sure I know myself. I can tell you I am most surprised by “Legs”—the last chapter of the book. It was the unexpected chapter that came to me after all the others were finished. I wrote about “authority in preaching,” which just shocked the socks off me as I was writing it, because I’m rather averse to the word authority. But as I wrote, I redefined the word, and I was startled to learn I rather liked my own definition.

TS: I rather liked it, too. In fact, I loved the whole thing and encourage everyone to get it. Get it from the publisher HERE or Amazon HERE. Keep up with Kyndall at KyndallRae.com

Thanks for stopping by, Kyndall and congratulations on Preacher Breath!

A Mary Carol: A Delightful Christmas Pageant by Katherine Willis Pershey

Mary and Joseph Ride to the Templesharefaith

I’m delighted to be reviewing Katherine Willis Pershey’s new Christmas Pageant A Mary Carol written for small to medium sized congregations. I’ll get to all of the reasons I love this pageant, but first, a little about the author.

Katherine Willis is Associate Minister of First Congregational Church of Western Springs, IL (A few train stops over from where I grew up!) She is also author of Any Day A Beautiful Change: A Memoir of Faith and Family, published by Chalice Press in 2012. She writes beautifully and from the heart. Check out the book or her blog!

Ok, on to A Mary Carol. So much to love about this Christmas pageant.  Before we get to the gushing, let me just say: I received a copy of this script for free so I could give my honest review. No other compensation was received for writing this post. I say this 1., because of the FCC, but 2. Because the gushing is going to make it sound like I was bribed or paid or something… it’s really just that great. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. Here are five reasons I love it:

1. It’s written to be played by adults, youth or both. Rare, in my experience, is the Christmas pageant that is interesting enough for adults to enjoy and simple enough for children to present. To me this is the hugest selling point of A Mary Carol. If my congregation were presenting this, I’d absolutely advise it be done as an intergenerational play. How great would it be to get the adults and children together in presenting this story?

2. It’s not fussy – Seriously, don’t we all have enough to do at Advent without hunting down a zillion props or harassing our congregation members to sew special costumes? The cast of characters is traditional (more on that in a minute) so most churches will have the costumes lying around. There are a few props, but nothing that can’t come together in a couple of emails and a phone call. Done.

3. Refreshing, but traditional – This is another balance that is hard to achieve, in my opinion. We want the basic story to be told in Christmas pageants, but we want to present this really familiar story in refreshing and new ways. It’s hard to make something new without it turning corny or far removed from the original story. This pageant isn’t at all corny or far removed. The storyline focuses on the the night of the Annunciation, and Mary has the opportunity to learn about who Jesus is from the past (oh! Isaiah is a character in this script. What?! It’s awesome.) the present and future.

4. It’s funny – Not *groan* funny a lighthearted “I love this!” funny.

5. It’s a good value. Ten dollars and you can make as many copies as you need for your congregation. Seriously? Ten bucks. You can get it here.

Thank you, Katherine, for allowing me to review your lovely work. It is truly a gift to churches who are looking for something “just right” for their church this Christmas.

(Oh, if you’re wondering why I’m reviewing a Christmas Pageant in June, it’s because, well, summertime is when many of us start planning this stuff. It’s true!)

 

 

 

Reviewing #Her (the new movie by Spike Jonze)

When a friend encouraged me to see the movie Her a few weeks ago, my obligatory “What’s it about?” was met with “Huh?” when I learned it was about a romance between a human being and an operating system. “You will love it,” was the confident response. I did.

The film is stunning on many levels with beautiful cinematography and art direction and a thought-provoking screenplay. Most of all, though…

 

[Read the rest on The Jesus Review at Fidelia’s Sisters]