Interviewsand Articles


Newsletter #23--The Jungle of Montini: Editor's Introduction

by Richard Whittaker,



We bring you an unusual selection of material that's more than just suitable for inner reflection, it's real food for thought. Long ago I discovered that interviews had the potential for carrying more substance than just about any other form of writing. Too often, of course, what we get is a surface treatment meant just for passing time. But these are like hidden treasures. Each one is remarkable in its own way, reflecting as it does, the wisdom of three individuals who have spent a lifetime engaged in passionate callings. One wonders how much other material of similar quality never reaches us and remains hidden under the media wash of quick and easy entertainment.

In our first interview, a man named Tree says, “I’ve always gone against the grain in the sense that you follow a career. That just never made sense to me. I wanted to do what I wanted to do and so I just tried to follow that instinct.” And what did he want to do? He wanted to serve others. This is the story of a man who has followed his calling for decades. In 2010 it led to the founding of the Free Farm in San Francisco where Tree and volunteers grow organic fruit and vegetables and give it away to people in need. It’s a great story because it’s true.

How many of you know Parabola magazine? Entering their 37th year of publication, Parabola was around long before other magazines of spiritual substance like Tricycle and Shambala Sun, and it remains as remarkable today as it was from the beginning. Our conversation with Parabola’s executive editor Tracy Cochran includes her account of a luminous experience that occurred in the most unlikely of circumstances, that of being mugged one night in New York City.    

Gail Needleman talks about music in ways you may not have thought about before in her wide-ranging and intriguing reflections. Here is just one example, this one pertaining to the role of music in our earliest experiences. “Pitched speech, which is the beginning of music, modulates the relationship between the infant and the mother—as do the mother’s gestures. There’s this kind of song and dance which is the infant’s first experience of human relationship. And it’s all one thing. Song and dance and love are one thing.”

In Rue Harrison’s The Jungle of Montini a little, flocked figure of a bobble-head dog becomes the vehicle for grappling with the universal tendency of worrying about what others think, and the cost of that.

And we conclude with a short, poetic piece from Kathleen Cramer, “Seven Sunsets.” Some will remember her story, “I Touch Art” which we featured in an earlier issue. Reading anything by Kathleen may lead one to sense, “Oh, this is what it means to be original.”  —Enjoy

About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founder of works & conversations magazine.


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