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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

O Holy Night

Repeating (and updating) a blogpost from a few years ago about my all-time favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night” ~

I love the history of this 1847 song (the first song to be broadcast on radio, in 1906), a song that was initially rejected by many churches because its lyricist was a “free-thinker” wine merchant, its composer was Jewish, and its third verse was decidedly anti-slavery:

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sadly, most recorded versions of “O Holy Night” leave out that third verse. A recent one that doesn’t is on Holly Happy Days, a beautiful, mostly-acoustic new CD from the Indigo Girls. Another is on the Christmas Offerings CD by Third Day, one of my favorite Christian rock groups.

Both versions are good renditions of my all-time favorite Christmas carol, which has a somewhat-gnostic bent in its first verse: equating “sin” with “error” (rather than disobedience or transgression) and describing the appearance of the Christ child as the time when “the soul felt its worth.”

May your soul feel its true worth this Christmas!


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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Loving the Nook Color

Last month I bought a Nook Color, the new e-reader (“Reader’s Tablet”) from Barnes & Noble, and I'm loving it!

The CNET review of the Nook Color says, “Barnes & Noble is keeping the focus and apps and content related to the reading experience... Yawn.” I'm a reader, not a tech geek, so “the reading experience” is NOT a yawn for me, and neither is the Nook Color.

I don't think the Nook Color will be “a Kindle/iPad killer,” as one review suggests. There's definitely a market for all 3 products. My friends and loved ones who have Kindles (including my Mom) love their Kindles.

I went with the Nook Color because, unlike the Kindle and the regular Nook, it has a touch-screen, and because it features color, not just e-ink. Two free children's books come with the Nook Color, so Barnes & Noble can show off its color features. Also, after the first of the year, the Nook Color will upgrade its operating system to Android 2.2, to be Flash-compatible, so I'll be able to use it to surf websites that use Flash.

The Nook Color lets you organize your e-books on “shelves” on your virtual bookcase. So I have one shelf labeled Bible/Prayer (which includes the English Standard Version of the Bible, a free download from Nook Books) as well as Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, the new book from Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro (I'm using it now for my daily prayer, so I decided to have the e-version as well as the physical book). I also have shelves for Books by Friends, Classics/Poetry (many of the Barnes & Noble Classics are only $1.99), Existentialism, and Zombies.

I also like the built-in Pandora radio app (mine is tuned to the Grateful Dead station) and the way magazines are displayed. Color photos seem more crisp, clear, and vibrant on the Nook Color than they do in print magazines, especially the photos in National Geographic. You can read magazines in portrait (one-page) or panoramic (two-page) view, and you can double-tap the screen to zoom in on a page. You can also read articles in “article view,” as a single column of text, if you don't want to be bothered by magazine ads. I've subscribed to several magazines electronically (New York Times Book Review, National Geographic, Men's Health, The American Scholar), and I can read them on my Nook Color without having to worry about the print magazines piling up and having to recycle them later. (Same thing with paperback novels I won't be re-reading.) When my print subscription to Vanity Fair runs out, I'll subscribe to it via Nook.

The only drawback is that some of the books offered by Kindle are not offered by Nook (like The Big Book of Christian Mysticism by my friend Carl McColman) - but I've also discovered a few books from Nook that are not offered by Kindle.

The Nook Color is an e-reader, a “Reader’s Tablet” focused on the reading experience. It does more than a Kindle but less than an iPad - and it only costs half what an iPad would cost.