From the Stacks: August 18, 2006

Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals,
weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and
it’s a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles
high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire
lively daily chatter, but they can’t all fit into our bimonthly
magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of ‘From
the Stacks.’ Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of
the independent and alternative media.

In an
attempt to confront, and seemingly disestablish, the ‘very limited
monoculturalist view of sex’ that’s brewing in the United States,
the July/August edition of HopeDance throws the doors of sexuality
wide open. No subject is too risqu? for these pages: sacred
prostitutes, a farmer’s land buzzing with reproductive frenzy, a
woman who’s had enough with public masturbators. Also included are
editorials on pornography, later-in-life intimacy, and much more.
By and large, pieces avoid mining for shock value, focusing instead
on presenting information and stories frankly, showcasing examples
of how they’d like to see sexual discussion evolve. — Rachel

‘Letting go’ is
the motto of many a spiritual journeyer, and it’s also one of the
dominant themes of the Fall issue of
Tricycle, the quarterly Buddhist review.
Judy Lief maps out the path to leaving the past behind in pursuit
of the present in her feature, ‘Letting Go,’ and Lama Tsony boils
things down to that mantra when it comes to being ‘too scared to
get on the cushion’ to meditate (‘Facing Fear’). Even existing
harmoniously with fundamentalist Christian neighbors, writes Sallie
Jiko Tisdale in ‘Beloved Community,’ requires one to let go of the
desire to find common ground and instead embrace what makes groups
different. — Rachel Anderson

The Winter/Spring
2006 issue of Rail somehow went off its track and landed
in our pile of new magazines. Published by the Community
Transportation Association of America, this quarterly comes to us
replete with a pictorial history of 19th century railcars and an
update on the restoration of rail service in New Orleans — from
its historic streetcars to Amtrak’s City of New Orleans.
Elsewhere, the cover story shows a revamped Alaska Railroad, with
new dome cars offering passengers a staggeringly beautiful
panoramic view of the mountains from 20 feet above the ground. —
Miriam Skurnick

The yogi’s companion,
ascent, sets itself apart from your
average glossy with a slightly wider breadth and more substantial
paper stock. One may even be too distracted by the elegant layout
and sophisticated graphics to notice that the pages within
ascent‘s covers are a simple black and white. The winner
of last year’s
Independent Press Award for spiritual coverage
, ascent
features engaging writing that can range from playful to thoughtful
without seeming flip or didactic. In ‘the art of intuitive reading’
in the Fall issue, author sparrow (a perennial

favorite ($$)
) relays his process-oriented method of
study, which allows one to explore the annals of literature without
becoming frustrated for lack of understanding or excessive time
investments. The striking illustrations for the article were done
by Lint
. — Suzanne Lindgren

The cover of Backwoods Home Magazine, with its bubbly
orange lettering, lends itself to comparison with the childhood
book series favorite, My Big Backyard. And the parallels
don’t stop there: While Backwoods is certainly for an
adult audience, it is about making one’s way with very little help
in nature’s oft-overwhelming back yard. Unpretentious and
irreverent to stereotypes, the September/October issue conveys
recipes for both chanterelle mushroom dishes and biodiesel,
elsewhere touting the health benefits of ginger and allowing Masaad
Ayoob his usual space to weigh in on firearms. — Suzanne

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