The Art of Surprise

Lots of beginning writers pen stories with surprise endings. Surprise! your quirky narrator was actually a bowling pin . . . Surprise! they were on Mars the whole time! . . . Surprise! This is such a ubiquitous phenomenon that books on the craft perennially warn against using such trickery. Jerome Stern gives precisely this […]

A Joyful Debt: A Thanksgiving Sonnet

Two years ago, as part of a friendly challenge among poets, I wrote this sonnet on (and for) the holiday of Thanksgiving. I share it again today, with renewed thanks for my friends and for the gift of language. This year, 2013, I am particularly thankful on this Thanksgiving day for the life and witness […]

Reversals: Poetry and the Heavens

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)   What do we see when we look up […]

“Weird Fiction” and Christianity: Strange Bedfellows

Ever wonder where the word “weird” comes from? Ultimately it derives from the old Anglo-Saxon word “wyrd,” which basically meant “fate.” The original meaning is often still felt. As Michael Moorcock points out in the “Foreweird” (ha!) to a gripping new collection of stories, “should you mention a coincidence to someone, they are likely to […]

Show, Don’t Tell: Good Friday and the Power of Story

One of the key components to writing successful creative literature—poetry, drama, fiction, even creative nonfiction—is specificity. There’s a long history of evidence for this. And some of the most compelling evidence, maybe surprisingly, is theological. Stay with me. Concrete, sensory specificity is particularly important—appealing to the senses, to the physicality of our human natures. That’s […]

The End of the World Is At Hand (Sometime)

If you follow the news (which can be an activity of dubious value), you’ll know that according to a particular self-proclaimed prophet, the world will end on Saturday, May 21st, 2011, or, failing that, on Oct. 21, 2011. How any literate person claiming to be a Christian can make such a prediction is beyond me. […]