Postcards from Babylon (Book Cover Design)

Cover_InHand.jpg

A long-time favorite author of mine, Brian Zahnd, is releasing a really important book soon, and I have had the immense honor of designing the cover! The book is called Postcards from Babylon: The Church in American Exile, and it is set to release in January 2019. Stay tuned for more details and fun stuff like a giveaways :)

MLK, Jr. Icon

In honor of Dr. King's courageous and invaluable contributions to our society and as a personal commitment to continuing the work of realizing his dreams for our lives, I made this new graphic icon to share with you today.

Also, below is a far-too-small collection of Dr. King's words in hopes that we might reflect on them honestly today. And that in our reflection, we might be moved to act in some way. Maybe this year more than many in our recent history, I think it is clear that we have a long way to go in making Dr. King's dreams a reality. So may we be challenged and emboldened by his example, and may we be the "creative, dedicated" ones who help this hurting world to get better, little by little...

I hereby pledge myself – my person and my body – to nonviolence, peace, and justice for all people everywhere.

Therefore I will keep the following commandments:

I will meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
I will remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory.
I will walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
I will pray daily to be used by God in order that all people might be free.
I will sacrifice personal wishes in order that all people might be free.
I will observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
I will seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
I will refrain from violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
I will strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
I will listen with respect to those who love and teach me.
— MLK, Jr. (Pledge of Non-Violence, 1963)
As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond...either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force.
— MLK, Jr.
Almost always the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.
— MLK, Jr.
God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.”
— MLK, Jr.
We must use time creatively in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.
— MLK, Jr.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
— MLK, Jr.
Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.
— MLK, Jr.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
— MLK, Jr. (Letter From Birmingham Jail)
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
— MLK, Jr.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. . . I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
— MLK, Jr.

Playing Producer

I had the pleasure and privilege of helping my friend/collaborator Caitlin Milam record some of her original music last month! I've wanted to help produce her work for quite some time, and the opportunity finally arose. We made some simple acoustic recordings of 3 songs, designed some minimalistic packaging, and put it all together for a few lucky folks to receive for Christmas presents. You can listen to one of the tracks titled "King of Glory" in the player below!

Also, you can hear these songs live on January 24th in West Monroe. Details about the upcoming gig can be found here.

Christmas: The Weary World Rejoices

by Sarah Duet, 12/25/14

by Sarah Duet, 12/25/14

I've been thinking a lot about Mary & Joseph this Christmas. About what it might have been like to pause in their journey...with so much behind them & still so much ahead of them...to celebrate a moment so special, yet surely still so difficult. To see & embody a fulfilled promise like that, while undoubtedly full also of questions about what was actually happening. Weary and tired from travel and labor. 

I'm realizing that Christmas is indeed a time of both weariness and joy, while people feel one or the other of those realities more fully on any given year. We are a weary world, and we have reason to rejoice.

Here's to remembering we're not alone in our weariness, and to taking time today to choose joy & gratitude where we can.

Merry Christmas, friends. Peace.

-sd.

Album Art: December Cinema Vol. 1 by Matt Kidd

Recent album artwork I made for Matt Kidd's Christmas EP.

Recent album artwork I made for Matt Kidd's Christmas EP.

I had the distinct privilege of working with one of my favorite artists recently to design the album artwork for his new Christmas EP. Matt Kidd recently released December Cinema, Vol. 1, a beautiful ambient-instrumental collection of 5 traditional Christmas songs: 

  1. The First Noel
  2. Oh Come, Emmanuel
  3. What Child is This?
  4. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
  5. Silent Night

You can grab 2 of the tracks for free on Noisetrade or find the project in its entirety on iTunes, Bandcamp, and Spotify.

Get yourself a little Christmas present and add some new tracks to your holiday playlist this week? Matt was wonderful to work with, and I'd love for you to both support him and get to appreciate these songs.

The Mercy Tapes (EP)...available now!

I released a new EP this week! You can download "The Mercy Tapes" by using the buttons below:

Album art, Watercolor by Britney Winn Lee

Album art, Watercolor by Britney Winn Lee

In compiling a larger group of songs, I realized a pattern forming in this small handful that carry themes of mercy & making. So I got to thinking about how the songs might fit together and then got to work. What you hear in this project is the product of that process.

In Hebrew, the word for mercy is actually the same word as womb with different vowel points. In light of that, I’ve heard mercy defined as “womb-like mother love” or the willingness and capacity to give oneself over entirely for the sake of another. I’ve found that any encounter with mercy seems to be generative of some creative act–either it making something of the stuff of our experience or moving us to make in response to it (or more often some combination of the two). This connection in mercy’s etymology to the word womb seems to characterize that nurturing, creative aspect of it that I’ve intuited. And that’s exciting to me.

An acoustic performance of "Have Mercy," track #2 on The Mercy Tapes... (Video by Luke Lee)

So these songs explore what mercy makes of us, what it makes of time, and how it can restore what we have made of things when we haven't done the best job. And they are something(s) I've made in response to encounters with great mercy.

As for the title, "The Mercy Tapes"... it is a riff off an author whose work I read gratefully. Dr. Brene Brown talks about the "shame tapes" that play in our heads that say things like "You'll never be good enough," or on an occasion in which we might start to believe we could be, "Who do you think you are?!" I'm well acquainted with these tapes, as it seems many of us are. The shame that speaks these lies isolates us. Shame erodes our humanity & sense of worth; it breaks us apart when we're meant to do this together. Another way I've heard mercy defined is a "generous connectedness to the other." My hope is that rather than those all-too-familiar, all-too-divisive shame tapes we might have different words on repeat in our minds–words that remind us who we are and that we belong to each other and that move us to connect generously. Maybe those words would more appropriately be called "mercy tapes.” I don’t claim that the words found in these songs would function as those tapes for all of us, but they are words that I have pieced together in my journey from shame to mercy, from hidden to known, and from alone to together. And I hope they can be valuable to you in yours.

So, “may mercy make much of us as only mercy can"...time and time again,

-sd.

P.s. Lyrics and credits can be viewed below. (A PDF download of these files is included with your Noisetrade download...)

PLAY!

Who knew that we learn empathy, trust, irony, and problem solving through play — something the dictionary defines as “pleasurable and apparently purposeless activity.” Dr. Stuart Brown suggests that the rough-and-tumble play of children actually prevents violent behavior, and that play can grow human talents and character across a lifetime. Play, as he studies it, is an indispensable part of being human.
— (On Being with Krista Tippet: June 19th, 2014)
Design by Sarah Duet, as a result of sitting down to the computer for some "play time"

Design by Sarah Duet, as a result of sitting down to the computer for some "play time"

I love play...all kinds: imaginative, competitive, group, and solitary. That said, as I've gotten older, I often find myself avoiding opportunities to play. Sometimes that's probably due to the influence of our highly utilitarian culture that glorifies work and achievement while compartmentalizing play as a thing for children only...for adults it's "wasting time." And sometimes that's honestly due to a fear of looking ridiculous in front of peers or getting too heated in a competitive moment and losing control of my emotions. Neither of these is a legitimate reason to sacrifice play and all it's benefits, and I thank Dr. Stuart Brown for reminding me of that. 

I listened to this interview last week and shortly thereafter found myself at a party where a game was introduced. I felt the normal tug to find an excuse to exit, but then remembered this and decided to stay and give it a shot. I'm grateful I did and can now strongly recommend the game Mafia to you and yours if you're looking for a good party game anytime soon...

Listen to the interview below or at OnBeing.org.