Smart Things My Friends Are Doing

It's good to have smart friends. It's even better when these smart friends are doing smart things.

Take Mike Pasquier, for example. He gathered together some colleagues at LSU to start their "Coastal Voices" project. As the website explains,
Coastal Voices is about storytelling. It's about slowing down, shutting up, and listening to the people who call Louisiana home. Their experiences of living on land and with water are unique to Louisiana, but they are also transferable to other coastal cultures in the United States and around the world.  Their stories serve as acts of cultural preservation, responses to ongoing transformation, and reflections on future orientation. 
To get a sense of what exactly Coastal Voices is up to, give a listen to their inaugural podcast, which highlights "the stories of people responsible for flood prevention in southern Louisiana. The way we control the Mississippi River has an impact on how we understand the coast."

Aside from the content itself, I was very impressed with the production. Appropriate music, clean narration, and smooth editing. It is a genuinely informative and pleasant listening experience.

Next up, Carmen Nanko-Fern├índez. I have had the genuine pleasure of working with Carmen as a co-chair of the Religion, Sport, and Play group with the American Academy of Religion.  I'm also very eager to read her forthcoming book, ¿El Santo?: Baseball and the Canonization of Roberto Clemente. It was a delightful surprise, then, when I just happened to see her name on the front page of the National Catholic Reporter this morning. Her article is entitled,  "Play ball? Like Easter, interruptions to daily rhythms are sometimes needed." It begins...

Baseball follows the rhythms of its own liturgical calendar. There is Spring Training, like Advent, a time of anticipation and preparation; ordinary time with its grinding 162 daily game schedule; occasional feast days like Jackie Robinson Day, Roberto Clemente Day and Opening Day. Opening Day in Major League Baseball (MLB) carries such ritual significance that, in 2014, Budweiser beer and Hall of Fame ball player Ozzie Smith sponsored a quixotic online petition campaign to get it added to the list of national holidays. . . . 
Connections between Easter and baseball are certainly not new. In 1911, baseball's primary evangelist, Albert Goodwill Spalding, a Chicago purveyor of sporting goods and former ballplayer, reminded readers in his book America's National Game "that the ecclesiastics of the early Church adopted this symbol (ball-tossing) and gave it a very special significance by meeting in the churches on Easter Day, and throwing up a ball from hand to hand, to typify the Resurrection." Though it is questionable whether this activity was a precursor of baseball, games of all sorts were a part of medieval festival celebrations.
Make sure to read the rest here.

As a bonus to my runner friends, click on an article from Allison Walter (who I don't know, but her article is in close proximity to Carmen's, so good enough). It's called "Easter joy: A happy runner is a fast runner." Here's one segment that particularly caught my attention...
My track coach used to always tell us that a happy runner is a fast runner. I think he meant it to convey that, if I'm truly taking joy in the sport, the joy will naturally exude from me and will propel me to a new level. The joy comes first, and the getting faster part comes as a result. My coach meant that phrase in the most literal of ways when it came to track and field, but I've found it to apply to much more than running. When we allow ourselves to enter fully into the joy of our surroundings, we subsequently become better at whatever it is we're doing — prayer, relationships, school, career. Joy transforms us into the best of ourselves.
Finally, there's Joe Price. Joe was the first scholar that I met who shared an interest in religion and sports. My first book review was of his edited volume, From Season to Season. And a few years ago, he stayed at my house while he was doing his "Anthem Tour"--a cross-continental tour wherein Joe sang the national anthem at over 100 minor league baseball parks.

Well, at long last, Joe's written account of this tour is available, under the title of Perfect Pitch: The National Anthem for the National Pastime The book description reads...
To celebrate baseball and sing the national anthem for more than 100 minor league baseball games during a single summer, Joe Price drove more than 25,000 miles through forty states. Accompanied on the zig-zagging, cross-continental trek in an RV by his wife who had not been a baseball fan, he often shared games and baseball stories with relatives and friends along the way. Serendipitously in multiple ballparks across the nation, Price met college alumni and former Whittier residents whom he had not previously known. Throughout the journey he experienced how baseball brings people together. Grounded in their respective communities, each ballpark reflected specific products, habits, and values associated with its location, and often evoked and formed distinct baseball memories and stories. Some provided high drama with walk-off home runs, others featured bungled plays on the diamond, and a few celebrated outlandish promotions for fans' entertainment, like the antics of BirdZerk in Fort Wayne, the flight of the first human home run in Lowell, and the crooked race by armadillos in Tulsa. Blending baseball lore, travel narrative, and personal memoir, PERFECT PITCH explores America through a lens of minor league baseball as it chronicles Price's anthem adventure. The book includes more than fifty photographs and maps. 
Here's a video of one of Joe's performances...

So now you have plenty smartness to fill your weekend. Happy reading and listening!