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Do This in Memory: 2008 SPU MFA Commencement Address

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The following post is an adapted version of the commencement address for the 2008 graduating class of the Seattle Pacific University MFA in Creative Writing Program. I’d like to say a few words today about memory, inspired by St. Augustine, whose Confessions we have been reading together. The Confessions are the first great work of…

Imagining Christ at the Getty Center

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Oh how much I’d been looking forward to this, after five weeks in Los Angeles with nary a chance to make it to my favorite place in town. You can have the Arclight, Gladstone’s, Venice Beach, and the Promenade; go ahead, take LACMA and Griffith Observatory while you’re at it. Just give me The Getty…

Imagining Christ at the Getty Center

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Oh how much I’d been looking forward to this, after five weeks in Los Angeles with nary a chance to make it to my favorite place in town. You can have the Arclight, Gladstone’s, Venice Beach, and the Promenade; go ahead, take LACMA and Griffith Observatory while you’re at it. Just give me The Getty…

Double

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For a bureaucrat, there is no greater ignominy than getting upstaged by a political appointee. I did not feel the bite of this truism until last Wednesday, when I found myself, in peep-toe heels, trundling fifteen painstakingly prepared briefing binders in a dog-hair-covered hiking backpack to our agency’s Office of the Deputy Secretary. Regarding the…

How the Messages of God Come to Us

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Imagination has been a motif in Good Letters of late, so I was intrigued to hear a new variation on the theme in my pastor’s homily last Sunday. He began by quoting Shaw’s play St. Joan, from the scene where Joan of Arc is being interrogated: JOAN: I hear voices telling me what to do.…

Meaning and Memory

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I made a trip to DC a couple of weeks ago. A co-worker told me she was going to go with some business colleagues to Wolf Trap for a concert. Since I am known by a few folks in the company as one of those “music types,” she asked if I wanted to join them…

The Fate of Patroclus

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About eight years ago, my brother Craig allowed me to borrow his new Honda Civic, which he had named Xanthus in honor of Achilles’ immortal horse in The Iliad. “Beware the fate of Patroclus,” he warned, reluctantly handing me the keys. Yes, Craig is a tiny bit strange. But he’s Southern, and we encourage that.…

What We Talk About When We Talk About Race

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“As a people, we have been tolled farther and farther away from the facts of what we have done by the romanticizers, whose bait is nothing more than the wishful insinuation that we have done no harm.” —Wendell Berry I suppose if anyone’s to read what follows, I should up my bona-fides. I’ve struggled—if a…

The Stranger at the Door

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The longer you live in a small town, the more you see, so I like to walk. On one of my longer routes, I trek past the Cobbossee Stream, where I often see immature bald eagles, looking for breakfast. After the steep incline of Winter Street, I cut through a Civil War-era cemetery, filled with…

Ode to a Bunker-Busting Muslim

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If you read my last post about Christian reticence in the workplace, you should know that not only have I had to wince a bit in hindsight at its full-frontal approach—despite my best efforts to pre-empt this in the writing itself—but even better, I was “outed” by my co-workers in the very midst of finishing…

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