Welcome to the Church of Holy Chaos

From Duke Faith and Leadership

On a cold, rainy day in early March, a 30-something man walked into the sanctuary at the Haywood Street Congregation for the Wednesday midday service with a shaggy mixed-breed dog on a leash. Dark-haired and bearded, dressed in a brown T-shirt and army-green painter’s pants, the man looked like a dozen other young guys you might encounter in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

But he wasn’t just another guy. He was the pastor, the Rev. Brian Combs, and the dog was Penny, the Haywood Street “church dog.” As the two made their rounds, greeting congregants, organist Edward Smith launched into “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.” Moments later, assistant pastor Darryl Dayson -- young, dreadlocked and wearing jeans -- stepped up onto the chancel and welcomed everyone, inviting them to “join in creating community.” Read more here

Carolina Memorial Sanctuary: Natural Burials

From The Asheville Citizen-Times

Once choked with invasive plants, a long, narrow stretch of rolling land in Mills River is undergoing a surprising restoration.

Carolina Memorial Sanctuary is a peaceful place, but its aim is a bit revolutionary: to bring back age-old burial practices that reframe death as a natural part of life and nurture respect for the environment. It’s the first conservation burial ground in North Carolina and one of only a handful nationwide.

The result of over a decade of planning, the sanctuary is a passion project for Caroline Yongue, an ordained Buddhist teacher. Around 20 years ago, she began aiding her Asheville Soto Zen community in the preparation of bodies for burial according to Buddhist tradition. By helping to guide families and friends through the process of tending to a deceased loved one and organizing home funerals, she developed an expertise in facilitating the sensitive decisions surrounding death. Read more here

Booksellers, Authors Help Shape Book Market

from The Asheville Citizen-Times

An estimated 350,000 books are published each year in the U.S., according to the American Association of Publishers. Which ones make it onto the shelves of America’s 10,000-plus bookstores and in what quantity is largely the result of a complex process that’s part strategy, part influence and part serendipity.

From Sunday through Feb. 11, publishers, booksellers and authors from across the U.S. are meeting at the Omni Grove Park Inn to shape that process during the American Booksellers Association annual Winter Institute.

The Winter Institute is the smaller of two big book industry events held by the ABA each year, the larger of which is Book Expo America, held each spring in New York. While expo is more of a major industry sales event, the Winter Institute is more educational in focus, with daily workshops on the business of selling books. Read more here