Adam Whipple



Gardening 101: Fallow Time

By Adam Whipple

Our backyard is surrounded by blessed groves. There’s a black maple directly behind the house, standing virtually alone in the path of the west wind. A couple of teenaged walnut trees toss their tennis ball fruits to the ground with slack-armed irregularity. At the south end, near “The Swamp,” green ash and cottonwoods spear the airspace, vying for sunlight. Storm-beaten in my neighbor’s yard, venerable poplars and oaks rain down the leathery opacity of their leaf litter. I collect all of it, every scrap of autumn-shed habiliment from these disrobing hardwoods.

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Gardening 101: Good Work is Boring

By Adam Whipple

My friend Kirby and I were going to play a show in an upscale planned community, and I felt the need to prepare him. “Just be forewarned,” I said. “I’ve been here before. It’s a little weird.”

We pulled into the drive, puttering past a capacious barn that looked a more like a Colonial Inn than any working barn I knew. A dainty roadside sign proudly offered to direct us to “Goat Yoga.”

“I see what you mean,” said Kirby.

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Gardening 101: Fighting Racism in Practice

By Adam Whipple

We moved house in 2019, just at the springing of spring. There was untold renovation work to be done, but we managed to get a small garden into the ground. There were enough tomatoes and cucumbers to put back, although to my shame, I over-salted my bread-and-butter pickles to the point of inedibility. This year, though, was to be the year. My in-laws gifted us their old tiller, and my wife and I laid out ideas for the plot: six hundred square feet, well situated in the best sun, while leaving the kids plenty of yard to play in. We would array appropriate companion plants and multifarious heirloom varietals. We would work in herbs and well-timed cold-hardy vegetables in a potager able to withstand the soggy, chill winter. Yet, it was not to be so.

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Set Loose with an Onion

By Adam Whipple

I’ve tried for years to write a poem about an onion. I’ve had little success, but the effort is quite apropos, as I owe a lot to this little bulb. I know some people don’t like the onion. It is the weep-maker, the Jeremiah of vegetables. Readers of Robert Farrar Capon will perhaps have a little more sympathy (see The Supper of the Lamb), but for me, it is the gateway through which I must often go.

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Uncle Jimmy & the Sweatpants Psalms

By Adam Whipple

The world is different now. We’re hunkering down. Thus far, for us Whipples, the price of that is small. I know it’s not small for everyone. The Psalms make a lot more sense these days. Our prayer is for doctors and scientists, now more than ever. In the meantime, the Spirit has been teaching me things I had forgotten.

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The Blessing of the Absent

By Adam Whipple

Every time I see a plane, my heart breaks a little.

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Playing in the Dark

By Adam Whipple

There are a number of quarries in and around Knoxville where lanky, dusty men used to blast marble out of the hills before the Depression. In fact, if you read the odd town-centric indie publication here or there, you’ll eventually dig your way into a vein of prose in which some loafered, office-bound journalist will wax poetic about the geological intricacies of East Tennessee’s pink marble. We should all dream so big.

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The Other Endgame

By Adam Whipple

First things first: spoiler alert. This is going to get messy, because I got messy.

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Mr. Brunson’s Offering

By Adam Whipple

One of the difficulties I have with the Scriptures is my inability to see where the jokes are hidden. Jokes are cultural, and I’m neither Jewish nor several thousand years old, so even if the context is explained to me, I’m still sort of in the dark. After all, nothing makes a good joke die of ennui like having some fusty-lipped academic tell you why you ought to chuckle.

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Album Review: Jess Ray’s Parallels + Meridians

By Adam Whipple

Jess Ray’s music defied the conventions of debut releases. She seemed, with 2015’s Sentimental Creatures, to have leapt right into her stride. Now, this year’s Parallels + Meridians jumps equally as far ahead of its excellent predecessors.

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Awkward Saint Crazy

By Adam Whipple

[Editor’s note: We’ve decided to take the last few days of 2018 to repost some of our favorite pieces of writing that showed up on the blog this year. The second piece we’re sharing is “Awkward Saint Crazy” by Adam Whipple, in which he earnestly and skillfully asks how the Church can best engage with mental illness.]

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Why My Children Sit Through Church

By Adam Whipple

Near the end of his life, Pope John Paul II was seated on his chair at the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. He was in his eighties and suffering from Parkinson’s. He had trouble sitting up straight, and even holding up his head was a chore. Yet there he was, in front of hundreds of parishioners and visitors who filled the cathedral to capacity. Thousands, indeed millions more watched him on television outside in the square and around the world. He looked tired and rather glum—not an office-holder of stature, but an old man hunched by the many failings of his body.

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