Thursday, August 22, 2013

Matt Matthews, Interview #201

Name: Matt Matthews

Where you live: Greenville/Greer, South Carolina, USA

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I’m pastor of St. Giles Presbyterian Church, a cool congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a father of three boys, a husband, son, and friend. I write when I can; I’m shopping a memoir of my father about his WWII/POW experience. My novel Mercy Creek, which was a blast to write from the point of view of a sixteen year old, got a good review by Publisher’s Weekly, and others. My children’s book about how a single prayer can shape a whole life (Fritz & Christine and Their Very Nervous Parents) was published by Avenida Books. I write songs, stories, emails, sermons, and plays. I like preaching. I like hearing people talk about their faith (or lack thereof). I like the beach. I like small, independent movies. I sometimes dream of Paris.

Your two favorite books: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie are two of my favorite novels. I like the poetry of Walt Whitman, Deno Trakas, Billy Collins, and Carl Sandburg, and the essays of Anne Lamott, the short fiction of Janet Peery and Ron Rash, the movie reviews of Anthony Lane, the travel logs of Mark Twain and Bill Bryson, the theological levity and insight of Will Willimon, and the editorials of the late Molly Ivins . . . to name a few.

Your two favorite songs: I have many. But these two stand out: Bank Job by the Barenaked Ladies because the story is great and the line about the nuns is hilarious, and Louie Armstrong singing What A Wonderful World because it casts a vision/ideal I wish all could live. I dig Stevie Wonder, Joe Satriani, Tommy Emmanuel, Bruce Hornsby, James Taylor, David LaMotte (no relation to Anne), True Blues, and all the indie artists like Mark Erelli and John Smith, making their way on the lonely road.

Why you are interested in spirituality? I’m not interested in “spirituality” per se. I’m interested in the ways in which God’s Spirit moves through communities, nature, experiences, and human story. God’s Spirit animates us all, so I’m interested in the ways we are and ways we are able to connect in a heart-to-heart way—to be real with each other.

Your favorite quote: “What does the Lord require of you but to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Your favorite web sites: The Chicago Manuel of Style Online because I like learning more about commas, who/whom, lay/lie, and other tricky aspects of the English language, and Travelocity because I like dreaming about traveling the world on a budget.

Your hero? Martin Luther King, Jr.; my parents; the minister of my home church; my sons; Jesus because he probably had the most mistranslated sense of humor of any truth-teller, and he really seemed to speak the truth in love.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Really letting people be who they are and loving them anyway.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Anywhere when I can settle my clanking thoughts can be holy ground. The trick is noticing.

By Christmas 2013, Matt will be blogging and tweeting

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