Friday, April 29, 2011

Dean Anthony Gratton, Interview #134

Name: Dean Anthony Gratton

Where you live: 
London, United Kingdom

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Bestselling author and columnist 

Your two favorite books:
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 

Your two favorite songs: 

I don’t really have an overall favourite artist or song.  I have an eclectic taste in music, ranging from dance and pop to jazz and classical.
Why you are interested in spirituality? 

I’m interested in human potential and that untapped energy within us all, which enables us to make real our dreams.

Your favorite quote: 
"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." --T. E. Lawrence (The Seven Pillars of Wisdom)

Your favorite web sites:
The Internet is a vast virtual space and I’m always eager to learn and explore new things.  The creativity and knowledge afforded by many websites is inspirational and there are simply too many to name.

Your hero?
My darling wife: for seeing through the fog and finding me.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
How to further explore the Universe within my own mind.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Cambridge, United Kingdom. When I first arrived here I felt a sense of déjà vu and belonging.

 Web Site:

In Dean’s latest book, Developing Practical Wireless Applications (Digital Press, an imprint of Elsevier), 2007 - Dean has been critically acclaimed by Barnes & Noble who describe his book as “accessible enough for business decision makers, detailed enough for technologists, occasionally opinionated enough to keep everyone on their toes. It's like hiring a really well-connected industry expert -- for, say, one percent of the cost.” Bill Camarda, 2007.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Greg Smith, Interview #133

Name: Greg Smith

Where you live:  Naples, FL

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Research, speak and write about education, especially relating to technology and faith.  Currently, I work in the Distance Education Department of a private university, serve as the Director of Adult Education in a progressive Protestant church, and write a daily blog about matters of faith that matter.

Your two favorite books: The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others (2004) by Scot McKnight and To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter (2010)

Your two favorite songsSomos Uno en Cristo (We’re United in Jesus) and Third Day’s Offering

Why you are interested in spirituality? I understand spiritually as a means of experiencing what it means to be human.  In the words of Dr. James Fowler, “ The human calling – which we take to be universal – is to undergo and participate in the widening inclusiveness of the circle of those who count as neighbor, from the narrowness of our familial beginnings toward real solidarity with a commonwealth of being.  This calling means movement from the limiting love of those who love us and on whom we are dependent toward the limitless love that comes from genuine identification with the source and center of all being (Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian, rev. 1999, p. 60).

Your favorite quote: One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."  (Mark 12: 28-31, NIV)

Your favorite web sites: to read: and // to interact: Facebook and Twitter

Your hero? Jesus, the one who taught and lived the way of love

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? contentment

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" online

My daily blog about matters of faith that matter:

Jon M. Sweeney, Interview #132

Name: Jon M. Sweeney

Where you live: Woodstock, Vermont

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I have worked in book publishing for 20 years. Since 2004, I’ve been the associate publisher at Paraclete Press. My avocation doesn’t wander far from my vocation (how I wish I could say that I do something more outrageously interesting!): I’m a writer of books, articles, blogs, and many other things. I write.

Your two favorite books: That’s impossible to answer, so I will answer as if you asked me what are my two favorite books this year. Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines, and Jack Gilbert’s new book of poems, The Dance Most of All.

Your two favorite songs: I’ve been singing old Carpenters favorites to my baby in utero. Either those, or The Smiths.

Why you are interested in spirituality? Because I can’t shake God. Spirituality is everything that gives life meaning.

Your favorite quote: Again, there can’t possibly be only one. But I’ll give you this one for 
sure: "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents." (H.P. Lovecraft)

Your favorite web sites: I spend a lot of time on The Huffington Post, where I blog on religion, Facebook, and The New Yorker, because I allowed by subscription to lapse.

Your hero? Paul Sabatier, the French Protestant who wrote the first modern biography of St. Francis of Assisi.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? How to love my neighbor as myself.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Now, that’s the easiest question of all. Not the woods (although they are great on snowshoes in January). I’m a contemplative sort, but not in solitude. Put me in the middle of a crowd of people, preferably strangers.

Editor's Note: Jon blogs here: and

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ray Hollenbach, Interview #131

Name: Ray Hollenbach

Where you live: Central Kentucky

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Resident Sage at Vineyard Community Church

Your two favorite books: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness  and John Updike's In The Beauty of the Lillies

Your two favorite songs: Elton John, Your Song; John Mark McMillan, Ten Thousand

Why you are interested in spirituality? Spirituality asks questions that are in the right neighborhood. Ask them long enough, you find your way home.

Your favorite quote: "wisdom is proven right by her children."

Your favorite web sites:;
and I'm also partial to my own Students of Jesus!

Your hero? Jesus, the Christ

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Gratitude.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Awake, at night, when my family is asleep. I listen in the silence of the night for His voice.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Amy Ellis Nutt, Interview #130

Name: Amy Ellis Nutt

Where you live: Watchung, N.J.

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I am a journalist and author

Your two favorite books:
Walker Percy's "The Second Coming" and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."

Your two favorite songs:
Van Morrison "The Bright Side of the Road," and Judy Collins' rendition of "Amazing Grace."

Why you are interested in spirituality? Without it, there is no meaning.

Your favorite quote: "And what were thou, and earth and stars and sea,
                                 If to the human mind's imagining,      
                                 Silence and solitude were vacancy?"  
                                (Percy Bysshe Shelley, from his poem, "Mont Blanc")

Your favorite web sites:

Your hero? My mother and father

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Acceptance

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Anywhere in nature

  Editor's Note: Also check out the great NPR "Fresh Air" interview with Amy and Jon Sarkin about her book Shadows Bright as Glass.

Elizabeth Cunningham, Interview #129

Name: Elizabeth Cunningham

Where you live: New York State's Hudson Valley

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I am a writer--novels, poems, lately essays or what is called creative non-fiction. I also sing and make up songs (feels more like that than composing). I have inherited the care of my mother-in-law's gardens. Though I feel inept, I like having my hands in the dirt. I hope the land will be my teacher.

Your two favorite books: Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis; Beyond the Abbey Gates by Catherine MacCoun.

Your two favorite songs: "Seasons of Change" from The Muse by Tim Dillinger "Wake awake the Night is Flying" from the Episcopal Hymnal, harmony by J.S Bach.

Why you are interested in spirituality? I actually don't like the word "spirtuality." I am interested in incarnation, how we all mediate the human and the divine. I don't exalt one above the other. Keats called this earth, this life the Vale of soulmaking. I believe we make our souls by fully embracing this heartbreaking, heartopening life on earth.

Your favorite quote: "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." -Julian of Norwich

Your favorite web sites: I am afraid I don't spend much time online.

Your hero? Everyday people who do what they have to do without hurting or blaming others.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? I would like to learn to be more trusting, not that everything will turn out the way I want it, but that it will be all right even if it looks terrible to me in the moment.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" High Valley, the land I have been called to tend, even though I feel unequal to the task as the moment. The Maine Coast also feels like where my spirit lives.

"Never apologize for mistaking a woman for a goddess." -Maeve from The Passion of Mary Magdalen

Website for The Maeve Chronicles:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Carlo Alcos, Interview #128

Name: Carlo Alcos

Where you liveNelson, British Columbia, Canada

What you do as a vocation or avocation? 
Freelance writer, Editor of Brave New Traveler

Your two favorite booksIshmael by Daniel Quinn - it was the book that planted the seed that started me on a spiritual journey, way before I even knew what "spirituality" was. It was the idea that things could be a lot different than they are, whereas before I kind of just took it for granted that things have to be this way and couldn't imagine anything else. And High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - I'm a romantic and I love music. This is the perfect combo.

Your two favorite songs: At the moment, Say, Hey (I Love You) by Michael Franti and Wordless Chorus by My Morning Jacket.

Why you are interested in spirituality? Because I think it's imperative to be. It's how we connect with the bigger picture, how we come to understand that everything is connected, and it just feels good. It feels like the right thing to do, the right way to live, not even so much in an intellectual just feels right, in the heart. It allows me to openly be how I am, and to be loving and compassionate to others. It's how I want to live my life right now.

Your favorite quote: I'm currently reading Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, so I'll pick one from there: "The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living."

Your favorite web sitesTo be perfectly honest, I enjoy reading articles from a wide range of sites, so don't particularly have any "favorites". They usually cross my attention through Facebook or Twitter, or through my colleagues at Matador. I spend so much time online for "work" that I try to get my eyes off the screen whenever I can.

Your hero? I draw inspiration from anyone who dares to do what they really want to do in life, and do so with consideration for all beings, and who just genuinely love living.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
 Learning lessons always surprise me because they're never the lesson I think I am learning or am supposed to learn. It's only ever in retrospect that I've come to realize that, hey, that was meant to happen because I learned this.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Where I'm living right now: Nelson, BC. I initially came for three months, then decided to stay for the winter. Then decided to stay for the summer. Now I'm seriously considering staying for the next winter too. It's a place that draws you in and keeps you here. There is something very special about this place, a small town of around 10,000 people, snuggled in a valley, surrounded by mountains, on the shore of a big lake. The community is amazing, I've never met so many people who are so readily willing to open up and share themselves in a really vulnerable way. Nelson is the kind of place where people still smile and say hi when you pass them on the street.

  I edit and write at Brave New Traveler
     I also co-founded and write articles about relationships 
     (with others and with ourselves) at Confronting Love.
     I keep a personal blog at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Janelle Hertzler, Interview #127

Name: Janelle Hertzler
Where you live: South-Central Virginia
What you do as a vocation or avocation? I work with people who are dealing with grief, loss, and trauma. I am developing my website as a primary source of connection with these folks. I am also a spiritual director and retreat leader.
Your two favorite books: It is hard to narrow it down to two. I would have to say any memoir or story that is real and honest and inspires hope. Paula D'Arcy's The Gift of the Red Bird and Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies and Plan B. Also any of Mary Oliver's books of poetry.
Your two favorite songs: Paul Gurr's Come as You Are and David Haas' You are Mine (I Will Come to You in the Silence)

Why you are interested in spirituality? It is the one thing that can stop the hamster of my mind as it spins on its never-ending wheels. 
Your favorite quote:  "In difficult times always carry something beautiful inside." - Blaise Pascal

Your favorite web sites: ordinary blogs where people honestly engage their questions and doubts and inspire their readers to a deeper sense of peace and trust
Your hero? A friend of mine, who through a genetic disease, is losing her eyesight. She is dealing with her loss with such honest grit and beautiful openness of spirit.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? To live the questions more fully and with more grace.
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Sitting beside the river on my brother-in-law's farm or most places in nature.
Janelle's site:


Christine Garvin, Interview #126

Name: Christine Garvin

Where you live: Black Mountain, NC

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Holistic Health and Nutrition Educator/Writer

Your two favorite books: The Wisdom of the Enneagram (Riso and Hudson), The Purpose of Your Life (Carol Adrienne)

Your two favorite songsExpress Yourself (Madonna), Mellow Mood (Bob Marley and most other versions)

Why you are interested in spirituality? Spirituality is what keeps me grounded and connected to what's real and important, while living in a world of constant chaos. 

Your favorite quote: “To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.” - Woody Allen

 Your favorite web (for health); (for spirit/ilfe), (for laughter)

Your hero? The people who make it through the hardships of life with grace and gratitude.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? The present moment really is all we have, so why spend so much time jumping into the future and the past?

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" The Blue Ridge Mountains around Asheville, NC; Mendocino, CA; in front of my altar

Holistic health website: Living Holistically -
Love and Relationships site: Confronting Love - 
   Follow me at

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Meredith Gould, Interview #125

Name:  Meredith Gould 

here you live:  Baltimore, Maryland 

What you do as a vocation or avocation?

For vocation: write about faith and spiritual life; For work: write about health and healthcare. For fun: collect cheesy religious kitsch, but not indiscriminately so. 

Your two favorite books:

Among many faves: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics by Marsha Sinetar 

Your two favorite songs:

Calling All Angels (Jane Siberry); One of Us (Joan Osborne) 

Why you are interested in spirituality?
Pondering essential essence is a never-ending adventure that I also find calming and comforting. It’s a mystic thing. 

Your favorite quote:
Hate to be greedy, but here are two: "You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” Friedrich Nietzsche and  “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”  Muriel Rukeseyer 

Your favorite web sites:
I’m going to respond with a few blogs that never fail to make me gasp and laugh, sometimes gasping with laughter:
 Nag on the Lake
Post It Notes From My Idiot Boss
Hyperbole and a Half; and 
Story of the Day from StoryPeople

Your hero?
St. Teresa of Avila 

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?  

God’s will, not mine, be done – even when I make a fuss. 

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Wherever there are mountains. 

Personal blog: More Meredith Gould
Blog for dotMagis
Personal website:
Selected books of mine:
Deliberate Acts of Kindness: Service as a Spiritual Practice (Doubleday);  
Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? Jewish Roots of Christian Worship (Seabury).