In the late 1960s, a friend in my graduate school program was gay. But at that time, there was no such thing as “in” or “out” of the closet. There wasn’t even a closet…or there couldn’t have been one huge enough to hold all the gay people who had to keep their sexual lives secret. Not even a barn would have been big enough. Maybe a stadium…
It’s the end of summer in the academic South, and I’m working on syllabi for my fall courses: Spiritual Autobiographies and Beginning Poetry Writing Workshop. I’m creating the schedule, weeks 1 through 16. I’m filling in the dates, 8/17, 8/19, 8/24…11/23. I’m sequencing the assigned texts: Darling to Dharma Punx; Incarnadine to Night of the…
I, on the other hand, received a call from the Lord. It didn’t come down from the sky with thunder. Instead, I remember a quietly emerging sense of destiny. When our keepers called for us to reconvene in the classroom, I wandered towards a path my father had shown me earlier. It led into the woods.
Everyone knows about bacteria, but many people do not know about archaea, one of the most ancient life forms on Earth. Their ignorance is understandable, because to acquire even a rudimentary knowledge of archaea requires a person to grapple with difficult science, the kind that shatters long-standing ideas. Such knowledge can feel unsettling at first, like walking on crust.
In the late Kent Haruf’s novel Plainsong, abandonment and acceptance are always in play. Victoria Roubideaux, a pregnant teen, suddenly finds herself homeless after her mother locks her out of the house. Maggie Jones, a teacher at her high school, takes her in and helps her. Through Maggie, Victoria eventually realizes that there is a place in the community for her, that people in it will love her like family. To get her to see the reality of her situation, Maggie speaks kindly but directly: “Honey…. Listen to me. You’re here now. This is where you are.”
So why did I take instant interest, even comfort, in a man who lurched down a dirt road with unconscious, poisoned men rolling around the floor of an RV? Why me, the girl who did not attend one drinking party in high school or college and who has never lit, snorted, or injected a thing? With every reason to fill my mind with good things, why did I keep wanting to return one of the most disturbing TV shows of all time?
Man, on the other hand, has no cap to his desires; they are boundless. Further, unlike animals, humans are not necessarily motivated by physical want. Pride is a metaphor applied to the lion; it is a deadly reality when applied to a human, as much a part of a man as his blood type.
This past Saturday afternoon I warned my husband, “I’m not going to church tomorrow.” In the morning when he went off early to help with music for the service, I went for a walk, made bacon and eggs, sat by an open window, and read every single page of the New York Times.
The year began not with Homer or Plato but with a book I had actually heard of—the Book of Genesis. Our professors urged us to read it not as the infallible voice of truth, a literal account of science and history. Nor did they present it as a mere anthropological artifact, reflecting the biases of its authors and nothing more. They were introducing the idea of a great book, a text that yields up riches to both trained scholars and attentive novices.
How can I say what happened next without sounding fake? Our house was shot. Hit by bullets. The noise of gunfire was suddenly present, live, loud, in my living room. Instinctively I rolled off the couch onto the floor and nearly crushed my computer. My wife appeared from the hall.
Image’s Daily Blog
For the humanists of the Renaissance, literature mattered because it was concrete and experiential—it grounded ideas in people’s lives. Their name for this kind of writing was bonae litterae, a phrase we’ve borrowed as the title for our blog. Every weekday, one of the gifted writers on our blogging team will offer a personal essay that makes a fresh connection between the world of faith and the world of daily life, spanning the gap between theology and experience and giving language a human shape.