Deciding about Billy Graham in 1962

I was recently alerted to a Newsweek article on family squabbles around the legacy of Billy Graham. I have no particular comment on that, but it did remind me of how my denomination got on board the Billy Graham train.

In 1962, in the MB Herald – the then-brand-new English language magazine of Canadian Mennonite Brethren – there were no less than three articles on the rising evangelical star and an appearance on the cover, as well as other “notes” throughout the year. I gather from this coverage that there must have been some questions about how MBs might respond to the Graham phenomenon; certainly public opinion about him varied.

The emphases of these articles can probably tell us something about MB concerns and values of the time. Three matters seemed especially important: his finances, his humility, and his relationship to theological liberals. Continue reading

What I’m writing…

A lot of my writing energy these days is going into a new novel project. I’m too far in not to continue, if you know what I mean, though not nearly far enough in to announce what it’s about. First drafts are just first drafts. This means I’ve been less active here at my blog; the nice twice-weekly rhythm I’d worked myself into seems to have slowed to weekly. I remain committed to this form of writing and publishing, however, even as I continue to evaluate it, and appreciate so much my readers, whether regular or occasional.

Besides the novel work, I’ve recently done a couple of smaller assignments. And since a blog is, in its original meaning at least, a personal “log” on the web, here follows a report (and links) to those bits of writing. The MB Herald, where I held various editorial positions at both ends of my “working-out” career, such as it was, is celebrating its 50th year as a magazine by asking those who spent time in the editor’s seat to reflect on any aspect of their experience. There’s no chronological order to their appearance; John Longhurst, Harold Jantz, and Jim Coggins opened the year, and yours truly appears in the April issue. (Just to make me sad at how quickly the decades pass, I suppose, they also pictured me as I looked once upon a time: dark-haired and long-haired! Hmm, and hint: maybe it’s sadness taking me back to the 60s and 70s in the new novel project?)

The Manitoba Book Awards nominations have brought a couple of lovely extras my way, such as the chance to read with fellow Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction nominees David Bergen, David Arnason, and Patti Grayson (Joan Thomas was out of town) at Aqua Books this week. I also very much enjoyed talking with Keran Sanders of the CBC Weekend Morning Show for tomorrow’s broadcast (April 10). CBC has a great website called “Manitoba Scene,” including a blog on books for which they requested a few words, like maybe some reasons to write. Loneliness and love are two of mine!

Eight days from now the excitement will be over, and we’ll all get back to our quiet desks or reading chairs. Next post, a log of what I’ve been reading…

The debate around “knowing”

So what do we think of TIME’s decision to name Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg their Man of the Year? We, the citizens of Facebook, I mean — citizens of the third largest nation in the world, if 500 million accounts counted as a nation. But also we as in all of us, whether we’re on Facebook or not, who know how profoundly media and technology have shifted, who have adapted our communication and connection habits, whether we wanted to or not. And we as in all of us who know that notions of private and public are being re-shaped, again.

There’s plenty of chatter about the angles of this – from sneers that TIME isn’t exactly the authority it used to be on what’s important (which is why I asked what “we” all think, if the we over at Facebook can just pause from collecting tractors for our farms for a moment, or taking a test to discover what dead celebrity we might have been in another life) to SNL’s comics setting up WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as bitter over Zuckerberg getting TIME’s honour (and this landing in newspapers and on computer screens everywhere as news!).

Of the list of TIME candidates (Julian Assange, the Tea Party, Afghan president Hami Karzai, and the Chilean miners), my pick would have been Julian Assange.  Not because I find him more likable (it’s not about liking — Hitler was once was Man of the Year, and Stalin was twice), but because I think the WikiLeak events and the impulses behind them will reverberate through global politics and life more significantly than Facebook has or will. Continue reading