I wrote a story called “A Man You Can Count On,” and I put into it all my tears and my frustration. I put into it how I felt about the veneer of politeness shellacked over every last bit of southern American culture, and how when it comes down to it, we’re all a bunch of rabbit-killing monsters. I put into it my frustration over years of working in a private school where most of the parents seemed more concerned that their children appear well-behaved than that they actually were healthy and well. Where they were willing to DRUG their own children rather than let them struggle and fail under the pressures of a difficult college preparatory school. josh barkey: IMMORTAL ORIGINS: “A Man You Can Count On”
This past Sunday from three to five, my woman-friend and I sat with Wendell Berry and his wife Tanya, drinking cold water and talking about everything from indie films to biblical scholarship. It is inherently ironic for me to write about this on a computer, given that my introduction to Wendell Berry (and the piece of writing that inspired me to go on a Wendell-Berry-reading-rampage) was his essay “Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer.” But as Mr. Berry once told me in a letter, we all live with a series of compromises we did not choose. So I will use this computer and this electricity to tell you the story of how I came to meet Wendell Berry, perhaps our nation’s greatest creative voice in the conservation movement. josh barkey: Kentucky, Part Two: An Afternoon with Wendell Berry
Oh internet, you vile seductress. josh barkey: Kentucky, Part One: Old Friends

Robin Williams has been found dead of an apparent suicide.

So many times in my life, Robin Williams has made me happy. Now I am sad, but I will not lay that at his feet. Instead I will be sad on his behalf, attempting to feel some of the sorrow he could not feel, himself. I will be sad on his behalf as I have been sad for many of our great comics and artists who have struggled with depression, and have succumbed to the temptation to do something - anything - to make the pain stop.

Depression is not sadness.

josh barkey: Robin Williams and Me
We are all, like Indiana Jones, on a journey of becoming. It is a journey without arrival, in which we will always and forever get things wrong. But the hope of Hollywood is that we can grow. We can learn and, with enough love, become more creative and loving. We can face the lies we tell, and the fears we hide from ourselves and others… josh barkey: Hollywood: Great Satan, or Harbinger of Hope?

Composting Your Children

  • "I used to make painting-babies. Now I make screenplay-babies, novel-babies, and even blog-post-babies like this one, right here. I've made a lot of art-babies in my life, but here's the sad thing: sometimes after hours, days, and even months spent gestating, birthing, and nurturing these art-babies, I have to admit to myself that they've given up the ghost.
  • So here's a question:
  • Is a lifeless art-baby a waste?
  • Or, because this is kind of an icky metaphor:
  • Is it really better to have loved a work of art and lost it, than to have never loved at all?..."

The truth is, I don’t have a clue who did what and when, or how to find that information. I could endlessly run around trying to figure out who’s more in the right, but my conclusions would ultimately just depend on whose story I chose to listen to. And as anyone who’s ever had to break up a playground fight knows (and yes, I use that metaphor deliberately), there’s not really ever a great way to be sure. You can guess, based on the observed character and previous actions of the combatants, but even my sweetie-pie of a son is capable of some nasty, vindictive little behaviors when he’s in the mood.

In Israel, nobody really doubts that Hamas is made up of some really nasty dudes who probably oughtta be shut down hard. On the other side, we all know (having watched that fantastic documentary “The Gatekeepers”) that the Shin Bet’s made up of some really nasty characters, who likewise don’t mind killing innocent Palestinians to score a political point.

There is no one righteous. No, not one. Not even you…

josh barkey: why i don’t care about israel (but also kind of do)

There are few things more frustrating to me right now than the belief that the chief end of humanity is rational certitude… or that rational certitude is a precondition for loving-kindness.

Loving-kindness is the starting and ending point. It is the filter through which all propositional belief must pass. If your heart tells you that something is unloving or unkind, then all rational discourse to the contrary is WRONG. It’s possibly even evil.

This is why I often find theological and philosophical discussions to be so frustrating. Because when you come right down to it, it’s often just two people sitting across from each other with angry grimaces on their faces, using every semantic and logical-mathematical trick in the book to argue that it’s okay for them to be a jerk.

josh barkey: listen to your heart

Y’all are a real pain to write for.

First of all, there’s this endless, angsty feeling kicking around in the subcockles of my duodenum that I’m just not all that good at stringing words together. Like the way I ended that first sentence with a preposition. Or the way I started that last one with an adjectival-conjunction-something-or-other, which might or might not be bad grammar (and then how I did it again with this one, because I’m incorrigible).

Second, there’s the sneaking suspicion that the things I’m writing aren’t really worth reading… that not only am I bad at saying things, but I’m also picking all the wrong things to say. A good part of me is cocky/confident enough to say them anyway, and to believe you ought to read them (and share them on your social internets already, you ungrateful jerks), but still… I wonder…

josh barkey: sadomasochistic writing
The other night after my son was in bed, I heard him call out “Dadu!” That’s my name, so I said “What?” “Can you and me have a snuggle?” he asked. I crawled up into his loft bed, and he told me that sometimes when he’s sleeping by himself he gets worried, so he wanted me to come up and sleep with him. I asked him what he was worried about, specifically. He didn’t want to say, so I started telling him that I love him more than certain stuff. Like, “I love you more than ice cream,” and “I love you more than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick,” and cetera. After I’d listed a few things, he said, “Do you love me more than your computer?” Ouch. josh barkey: more than your computer