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Ruminate – Summer 2007

Ruminate publishes “work that accounts for the grappling pleas, as well as the quiet assurances of an authentic faith.” They mean Christian faith, but you don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy the thought-provoking poetry and prose in the current issue.

Ruminate publishes “work that accounts for the grappling pleas, as well as the quiet assurances of an authentic faith.” They mean Christian faith, but you don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy the thought-provoking poetry and prose in the current issue.

The theme of this issue is “benediction,” which could be interpreted as a blessing, the effects of a blessing, or a ceremony to set aside objects as sacred. All these meanings are captured in the stories or poems, often in surprising ways. For example, in Jennie Mejan’s poem, “Frankenblessed,” she describes her body as an “odd gift // Burgs of bloat and coasting humps,” yet concludes that “I must be polite; / without it, I’m a burning light / unmoored.” Brett DeFries’s chilling poem “At the Waco Baptist Church” recounts the accidental electrocution of a minister as he stands in a baptismal pool. It doesn’t sound much like a benediction, but DeFries manages to make the connection: “The congregation watched / As God surged through you at a thousand volts.” Diane Tucker’s poem, “Recipe” is not overtly religious, but in this context, the “silvery garlic skins / in a fish-scale heap beside the knife” absorb extra weight and become blessed.

My favorite story in this issue is “The Grace I Know” by Tony Woodlief, a heartbreaking tale of a father who is literally haunted by his daughter’s death. This story is not necessarily religious, and could be interpreted as a spiritual parable, a psychological study, or a fantastical ghost story. Another highlight is “Self-Interview of a Video Artist,” which is just what it sounds like. The editors admit they were “taken aback” when, after they requested an interview, artist Christopher Miner provided them with a complete transcript, but the result is much less narcissistic than it sounds.

Ruminate does what all good art should do: it challenges expectations. This magazine provides a refreshing look at all aspects of religious faith, without sounding preachy. Anyone interested in spirituality, Christian or otherwise, would find something to appreciate here. Just prepare to be surpised.
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