Thursday, January 8, 2009

David Crumm, Interview #64

Name: David Crumm

Where you live: Near Ann Arbor, Michigan

What you do as a vocation or avocation? My vocation is spiritual connection. I'm a lifelong writer who devoted 30-plus years to journalism and scholarship with a specialty in writing about religion. Through many years and many travels around the world, I have seen how vital, creative and hopeful faith can be at its best. I'm devoting my life now to making spiritual connections with the help of emerging forms of media.

Your two favorite books: Collected Poems of Robert Frost, who understood both the depths and the heights of the human spirit better than most. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, who also explored those depths and heights.
Your two favorite songs:"Be Thou My Vision," a hymn. "Simple Gifts," a Shaker hymn and widely reproduced melody.
Why you are interested in spirituality? The three greatest spiritual questions of our time flow through each day. They are:
Why should I climb out of bed today?
How can I make it through another stressful day?
At the end of the day, what truly mattered?
These are echoes of the timeless questions, voiced by Tolstoy and so many others in their search for meaning, for compassion and for peace: Why are we here? How shall we live? What is the resonance of good and evil in the world? Spirituality is as close as the next breath we take. How can we not be interested?
Your favorite quote: Robert Frost's "The Pasture," which opens with these words ...
"I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha'n't be gone long. You come too."
It's the first poem I memorized at home as a boy of 9. At the University of Michigan in the 1970s, I studied this poem with Joseph Brodsky, who eventually won the Nobel Prize in literature. Brodsky assigned me to study the poem in parallel with the ancient Psalm 90. This Frost poem is oh so simple and yet it embodies responses to all those spiritual questions I raised a moment ago.
Your favorite web sites:

Your hero? Frederick Buechner — brave, brilliant and eloquent writer on spirituality, who came from a traumatized home and yet soared in circles of literature and spiritual reflection. I have had the privilege of interviewing him a number of times over the years, but it really is through his books that he felt like a wise uncle to me and to thousands of others over many years.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? How to help people see the world more clearly in an era when popular culture passes, so often, for the illusion of clarity.
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"So many places. I feel as though Scotland and the isle of Iona is a second spiritual home to me. Walking the streets of Rome humbles me. I feel at home in the streets of old Jerusalem, but also I am drawn to Asia, where I feel connected to Indonesia, China, Thailand and Singapore.

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