Off Line

My book group gathered recently to talk about Geraldine Brooks’ Horse. It provoked an interesting and wide-ranging discussion that, amongst other topics, addressed racism.  As I glanced around the room I couldn’t help but notice that we are uniformly white and of a “certain age.”  (Certainly “Boomers” no “Gen Xers”.)  Despite our apparent homogeneity, several of us have been part of more diverse communities, through education, work and volunteering.  All the same, in a country with such deep-rooted racism, we agreed we needed to be shaken out of our complacency.

I was flung out of other aspects of my complacency when I strayed upon a BBC Sounds podcast, The New Gurus that enlightened me about online trends and, shockingly, the “Manosphere.”  Regrettably, some forms of enlightenment are less desirable than others. The Manosphere consists of online groups of misogynistic men who gather to vent their hatred. They  have their “gurus,” charismatic leaders who, claiming insider knowledge, incite violence. Distressingly, their hate speech sometimes gets translated into actions, – at least one of the recent mass shooters was a member of one such groups, the “incels.”  (Don’t ask).  Apparently, there are many other online “gurus,” thankfully purveying less inflammatory advice–the accolade “guru” now indicates a large following as opposed to hard earned wisdom. There are financial gurus, health and wellness gurus, organizational and de-cluttering gurus and, indeed, “diversity” gurus. Perhaps my book group should hire one to help with the shaking. On reflection, I think not!!

I enjoy online “commerce” as we used to call ordering things, as much as the next, and like seeing the delivery van draw up outside my door seemingly simultaneously with me pressing the “check out” button.  And the convenience of accessing information at my fingertips makes me agree with The New Gurus that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, may well deserve the title, “guru” for enlightening the masses, albeit at an extremely healthy profit. Nevertheless, I’m underwhelmed by social media. As a writer, I’m constantly encouraged to build up my “platform,” become an ”influencer,” so folk will find and share my books. I’ve made some spluttering attempts but they fizzle fast!, I simply prefer  communicating off line.

A couple of weeks ago, our little church had a Special Music Sunday with an intentional invitation to people of different faith traditions and communities.  And, wonder of wonders, they came!  Bahai, Jew, Unitarian, folk from Christian and non-Christian traditions. Together, we savored the music, the company, and the abundant food. During the gathering, someone mentioned there was also special music at her Macedonia AME church that afternoon. Chris and I were so grateful for all the guests who visited our church, we accepted the invitation and went along. AME churches typically attract congregants of African descent and, boy do they know how to worship! 

Macedonia AME Fernandina Beach

Mostly white churches often bemoan their flock as the “frozen chosen.”  Not so at Macedonia AME, where we sang, clapped, stomped and danced. Previously, I’d felt joy as an internal, quiet, warm emotion, now I discovered it’s also exuberant, loud and public. Perhaps all the more touching as it was evident this joy is born as much of sorrow and hardship as of good fortune and celebration.

My friendship network has a ways to go before it’s truly diverse. Maybe I’ll invite my book group on a field trip to the Macedonia AME.  Chris and I are pleased we stumbled out of our comfort zone, and I’m very glad we did it off line.


News Flash!

Chris news!  After a few “health hiccups” Chris is recovering well.
Help me break through my social media barrier and follow me on on Facebook and Instagram!

End Notes


Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Men We Reaped
Jesmyn Ward


Proud Mary
Tina Turner

Journey to Satchinananda
Alice Coltraine


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