Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

My Photo
Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Praxis

I've been doing a lot of reading and writing this month, and it's kept me away from the blog. I've downloaded sermon tapes (to make sure I'm characterizing evangelical teaching more or less accurately), I've been reading books (both ones my Dad sent me and a few I haven't been able to resist, like Mary Roach's Spook), and I've been trying like hell to get at least one new chapter of the book into enough decent shape to post it for you all.

But last night, while reading Alan Watts's Tao: The Watercourse Way (and I highly recommend the Alan Watts lecture clips available on iTunes in podcast form), I realized a few things. First, that I really like Taoism. And second, that this leaves me no actual religious practice to perform. I actually like the world and myself as they more or less are, and have no desire to suddenly start meditating to achieve satori or go to a guru or anything. Taoism truly is a philosophy, not a religion. There are no rites, no decorations (except the yin-yang symbol), and only a few slim texts that merely repeat what the Taoist already knows: do all things without unnatural striving; be like the willow that bends in the wind, or like water that seeks out the low places, etc.

So this may seem strange, but it has occurred to me that this blog is the equivalent of my religious practice. According to Watts, Buddhism (and especially Zen, my favorite flavor of it) delights in the dichotomy between knowing and not-knowing; the absolute absorption in the moment, broken by the realization that you were just in a moment and isn't it weird and special that we're alive. Every religion that vacillates between sacred and profane time brings us to these realizations; only Chinese religion (Tao and Zen), so far that I'm aware of, sees equal value in both, and tries to make every living moment a dance between sensory absoprtion (which I think of as being in the zone) and detached wonderment.

And this, if I may dignify such silliness, is what I feel when I write my cartoons, post my poems, and otherwise comment on some absurdity or other that I've seen in this lovely character-filled city. Ignoring life's bemusements, failing to report them, is damn near sacrilegious. At least for me.

So I think I've decided that this weird lapse in posting, for the purposes of focusing on a book, may be unhealthy or otherwise imbalanced. (Of course, I no longer believe in abstract "shoulds," so let's just call my last few weeks suboptimal.) If things are working well--and most of you know I'm a fast writer--I should be able to post *and* write the odd book or two. I'll be getting this book finished in another two weeks, I imagine. After that, I hope to post a helluva lot more than I have. Too much good stuff has gone by. So for now, here's my promise: no more Novembers.



Anonymous Christian Wulfsberg said...


Your comment about religions that vacillate between the sacred and the profane really hit home for me. That's one of the things that Orthodoxy has been slowly changing for me. While there is certainly more acknowledgement of the sacred in Orthodoxy, there is also the sense that the mundane is elevated to service to God by the man or woman who understands that our work in this world is to love God and love others. Of course, I'm taking it for granted that you are using "profane" in the "earthly" sense; not many religions espouse immorality, desecration, or irreverence.

11/21/2006 10:28 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home