Archives For Listening


[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”0830844120″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]Opening Ourselves to Surprise

A Feature Review of

The Listening Life:
Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction
Adam McHugh

Paperback: IVP Books, 2015.
Buy now: [ [easyazon_link identifier=”0830844120″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B00HUCPUB0″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]


Reviewed by Andrew Camp


The American life will never be remembered as a life that listened well, especially in the second millennium. More talking and less listening is our default when it comes to our ideas of leadership and being taken seriously. The technological advances of the past 15 years have also produced a culture that has moved passed being polyphonic to being harshly cacophonic.

Sadly, this disease has infiltrated the American evangelical church to a large degree. We firmly believe it is our duty to tell people what to do, and as the church’s influence wans in America, our solution seems not to listen more, but to pound the pulpit louder and harder. We are a people anxious of what might happen if we shut up long enough to truly hear, not only the voice of God (which is of utmost importance), but also the cries of people both inside and outside the church.

In situations like these, God seems to raise up men and women to call the church back to its task to embody kingdom politics, part of which is learning to listen well. This is exactly what Adam McHugh calls the church to in his new book The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction. This is not a book outlining seven easy steps to becoming a better listener; this book is an invitation into a spiritual life marked by deep listening in all components of the Christian life. Listening is foundational to what it means to be a human, both physically and spiritually.

Continue Reading…


“Toward Careful Listening”

A Review of
Thoughts on Landscape:
Collected Writings and Interviews

by Frank Gohlke.

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich,
ERB Art Editor.

Thoughts on Landscape:
Collected Writings and Interviews

Frank Gohlke.

Paperback: Hol Art Books,  2009.
Buy now: [ From the Publisher ]

[ Read a two-chapter excerpt from the book! ]

Frank Gohlke - THOUGHTS ON LANDSCAPEPhotographer Frank Gohlke has been making pictures for over thirty years, and accompanying those images is a large number of essays, artist statements, and interviews. His new book Thoughts on Landscape: Collected Writings and Interviews compiles these texts chronologically, as they developed alongside Gohlke’s photographic practice, and in some ways they serve to clarify it. But like any successful writing about art, this book drew me back to look at Gohlke’s photographs again, more closely than before.

So to begin, looking at an image might be helpful, such as a complicated photograph (which recently served as the cover for Gohlke’s Accommodating Nature) in which a woman points a hose, watering rows of crops planted in red clay, late afternoon sun illuminating the fields spread before her, and the water making shadows on the soil. But what exactly is going on here? What is really the scope of the care this woman can give to this wide open space with that one hose? Seemingly, it can’t stretch any further, and the woman’s finger creates a jet on the nozzle to extend the spray further, but it’s nowhere near that field of young corn. Meanwhile, the roof of the shack continues to melt off, and the tractor may or may not ever run again. Either way, there’s work to be done to maintain this landscape ‘Near Kirkville, Mississippi,’ and both the woman with her hose, and Gohlke with his camera are doing just that work.

Continue Reading…


A Brief Review of

Before John Was a Jazz Giant:
A Song of John Coltrane
Carole Boston Weatherford.
Illustrated by Sean Qualls.

Hardback: Holt, 2008.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

BEFORE JOHN WAS A JAZZ GIANTWith three kids ages six and under, I am always on the lookout for excellent new picture books.  I was therefore delighted to stumble upon the recent book Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane by Carole Boston Weatherford (and illustrated by Sean Qualls) at my local library.  Although from the title, one would suspect that this book was about John Coltrane, which it is, it is not primarily a biography, but rather uses the story of Coltrane’s boyhood as a pretext to teach the spirit of jazz and the practice of listening.  Or to put it differently, this is a biography of John Coltrane in sounds.  Coltrane’s formation, as presented here, is fundamentally an aural one.  Weatherford, using simple and poetic language, makes the case that the sounds that Coltrane heard as a school boy (“hambones knocking in Grandma’s pots,” “Mama playing hymns for the senior choir” or “the sobs of kinfolk at family funerals” for instance) were essential to the classic jazz pieces that he would come to compose.  Listening, of course, as Weatherford’s telling Coltrane’s story here emphasizes is vital to the creation of art that is rooted in a people and a place.  Qualls’s brightly colored illustrations, done in varying levels of abstraction over the course of the book, are reminiscent of the classic jazz-tinged work of Ezra Jack Keats and vividly capture the jazz imagination of Weatherford’s rendition of the Coltrane story.  Weatherford’s writing ultimately climaxes at the heart of the story: “Before John was a Jazz Giant, he was all ears.”  Ending on this resonant note challenges us to consider what we might create out of our own experiences among a people and a place if we too would only be “all ears”?