I’m a long-time fan of Tom Robbins , having resonated with with his first book, Another Roadside Attraction, in the ’70s. In fact, I fancied myself one of the characters in the novel: Plucky Purcell, former college football star and sometime dope dealer. Actually, that description fit pretty well at the time. Therefore I was truly excited when I learned Robbins was scheduled to speak at the Jubilee! Celebrations this morning. And Tom didn’t disappoint, reading about his spiritual (not religious) awakening at age 13 from his memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life.
Being baptized in the Rappahannock River in Virginia by a Southern Baptist minister did not bring Robbins any nearer to Jesus than he had been previously (not very). However, after seeing a Natalie Wood film at the age of 13, he says his “scruffy whippersnapper heart opened like a sardine tin … radiating such a vortex of woo woo love it would have made Saint Francis of Assisi seem like a mink rancher.”
Jubilee! Minister of Ritual Howard Hanger and Robbins have been friends for some time, and it was, of course, at Howard’s request that Robbins delivered the weekly meditation.
FYI, Robbins was born nearby in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and both of his grandfathers were Southern Baptist preachers. In 2000, Robbins was named one of the 100 Best Writers of the 20th Century by Writer’s Digest magazine, while the legendary Italian critic Fernanda Pivano called Robbins “the most dangerous writer in the world”.
Finally, a few bits of Tom Robbins wisdom throughout the years:
Tom Robbins at Jubilee! Photo by Peg Heup Pillsbury
“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.”
“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is sign on as its accomplice.”
“The trickster’s function is to break taboos, create mischief, stir things up. In the end, the trickster gives people what they really want, some sort of freedom.”