Saturday, October 18, 2008

Homer, Shakespeare, and Election 2008

Homer and William Shakespeare have had more influence on my world view than any other writers or thinkers.

Both see the world and reality as in a constant state of flux and see human beings living precarious lives because our ways of perceiving and understanding what's happening in the world are so limited and flawed.

Neither poet puts much stock in empiricism. Both dramatize the senses, especially sight and hearing, as highly unreliable and both dramatize characters acting on what they think they've seen or heard, only to find out their senses betrayed them.

Things are never what they appear.

I'm not a negative person. I am, however, very skeptical.

Homer and Shakespeare's shared vision of mutability and the human inability to understand things very well rings so true to me, I am so deeply skeptical, that I give others as much benefit of the doubt as I can.

Human limitations on knowledge and knowing move me to me lenient with others. I know things are never what they seem to be to me and that the same is true of others. Things are never wha they seem to be to others either.

We muddle through and the miracle is that we do as well as we do.

Daily, I read twenty or more political blogs, trying to understand what's happening in the election of 2008. I enjoy reading the perspectives different newspaper and citizen bloggers have regarding electoral strategies and campaign developments.

I read it all very skeptically. My skepticism is not born of distrust. It's born of Homer and Shakespeare.

I know these experts can't really know what's happening and what's going to happen. They write compelling analyses, make brave forecasts, survey the terrain of key states, and assert what they think has happened and what will happen and, ultimately, which candidate benefits, which is likely to win.

But they don't know.

The image of Odysseus tossed about the winedark sea, seduced by the Sirens, played with by the whims of Poseidon, lured to the Land of Lotus Eaters comes to mind. Odysseus is never sure what's coming next, doesn't know if what he sees and hears is actual, and so must shoulder forward with courage and skepticism.

I don't necessary share Odysseus' courage, but I sure don't know what I can rely on and what's coming next.

It makes me skeptical.

Three Beautiful Things 10/17/08: Darcy and Kelly, Homer's Tender Moments, KHS Homecoming

1. Two years ago Darcy and Kelly enrolled in courses of mine and we became good buddies. Today Darcy dropped by my office to rekindle our buddyship. We hadn't talked for over a year. I left my office, trudged out to my car, and there was Kelly, trudging to her car and we stood in the parking lot and swapped stories. What a great day: Darcy and Kelly within minutes of each other.

2. I love Homer. It's the small moments I love the most, the tender moments when in the midst of huge events Homer creates, with the lightest of touch, moments of intimacy. Athena tells Telemachus it's not time to be shy as readies himself to talk with Nestor; no one recognizes Odysseus when he returns to Ithaca, except his old and dying dog. My students probably think I'm a nut when I read moments like this in class and show them the goose bumps on my arms.

3. Ed and a handful of my fellow Class of '72 friends called me tonight from the grandstands of Teeters Field in Kellogg. They wanted me to help them enjoy Homecoming.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 10/13/08: No Court, Winedark Sea, Pasta Pleasure

1. Turns out I won't be going to court to observe a hearing of MB's stalker. Tomorrow's hearing will only last about 30 seconds and will focus on whether the perp has an attorney.

2. In World Lit. we started our study of The Odyssey and it is awesome reading Fitzgerald's gorgeous translation of Homer's stirring hymn aloud. Just the simple words "winedark sea" stir something eternal in my soul.

3. The Deke bought these cherry tomatoes and put them over pasta with basil and garlic andolive oil it was as tasty to my palate as "winedark sea" is to my ears.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 10/12/08: Stalking Resources, Gilgamesh Joy, JBelle and the Mothers of My Lai

1. Why would I include studying at the Stalking Resource Center and watching an eighteen minute video about law enforcement and stalking as a beautiful thing? I'm trying to learn all I can in support of MB. When her stalker appears in court this week, I'm going to the hearing and I want to be prepared as best I can.

2. The ancient epic Gilgamesh is terrific story, but never easy for students studying Survey of World Literature. But, I spent this afternoon reading my students' first essays on Gilgamesh and they were, for the most part, engaged, insightful, curious, and probing essays. This class has thirty-four students and we've only met for two weeks. I don't have all the names and faces quite connected yet, but I'm looking forward to arriving in class tomorrow and learning better who's who in this class!

3. In email correspondence today, triggered by mention of her in yesterday's 3BT's, JBelle reminded me that she wrote a post at her blog, Notes from the 'Kan EWA, about what a spiritual experience she had bicycling through Vietnam. The mothers of My Lai moved JBelle profoundly and I'd like you to share in her experience, feelings, and reflections, here. In a time when some are crying out in fear of Obama and others of McCain, the mothers of My Lai remind us to turn away from fear and "walk toward a new future in forgiveness."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 10/11/08: Friends With Differences, JBelle: Fair Play/Good Thoughts, The New Yorker's Perspective

1. Friendships and good working relationships at my job mean more to me than politics. This goes way back for me, in part, because my way of seeing the world has often been at odds with many of my best friends and I grew up in a political environment, in Kellogg, where my father's best friends were divided between labor and management, but left those divisions outside the door when they gathered to watch sporting events, play cards, go on road trips, bowl, and be friends with each other.

Therefore, when I discovered last night night that my wonderful blog friend MGM and I discovered that we are opposed to each other in every way regarding the upcoming election, I found deep relief, and it strengthened my affection for MGM, when we acknowledged our differences, and moved almost immediately into what we care the most about in our correspondence: our families, our love of North Idaho, our honesty with each other, our concern for one another's welfare, etc. I love being friends with people I don't agree with on social and political matters. Mainly, I enjoy listening, testing my outlook, reveling in variety, and admiring the many ways intelligent and passionate convictions take form among me and my friends who genuinely want what's best for our country, states, cities, families, and, lastly, ourselves.

2. Thinking along these lines of what we do with our disagreements and how we engage those we oppose, another wonderful blog friend, JBelle, comes to mind. I don't know if JBelle and I see things the same politically, but at a Spokesman-Review blog, Community Comment, commenters were heaving nastiness about Gov. Sarah Palin around. JBelle intervened:

I was in My Lai Viet Nam last December. I was astounded that under the circumstances the mothers there not only allow their children to talk to Americans but encourage it. It was then I realized that hate and fear are taught; I realized then as I do now that peace begins with me. The mothers of My Lai should be nominated for Nobel Peace Prize because they refused to let fear nor hate invade their children's psyche nor soul. Their powerful example stays with me so I encourage you to ask yourselves why GSP sparks your fear and then ask you, respectfully, if there isn't a better place for your fears than in "hate posts" here. And I ask you to think good thoughts for all the Presidential candidates and their running mates and for the people of the United State of America. We need it. In the most desperate of ways.

I don't know if JBelle and I have serious differences, but we know we are different: in our taste, lifestyle, ambitions, and worship. We have North Idaho in common. Something in that region affected us similarly and we both want fair play, good thoughts for the candidates, good things for our country. Reading her post in the comments at Community Comment was a beautiful part of my day.

3. It's no surprise that The New Yorker strongly endorsed Obama. I found the endorsement not only ringing but eloquent. You can read it here. In the same article, George Packer goes on the road in Ohio and investigates issues of class and race in the election, here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 10/10/08: Weight Loss Comfort, Strap, Stalker

1. A student waiting for the elevator explained to the student she was with how she had lost 100 pounds and now she was cold so he took her hands in his and warmed her.

2. Kelly came to the elevator and joined me and the two aforementioned students and they spent the whole ride, from floor 1 to floor 4 talking about Kelly's backpack strap and how much they wished it was theirs. Kelly emailed me later today and thanked me for having her back!

3. It was a very serious meeting, but truth telling strengthened us all. My fellow teacher and long-time friend, MB, has been the subject of a man's obsession for over ten years and with the help of a campus safety officer and a representative from Sexual Assault Support Services, the faculty in our division learned more about what MB has been through and what to do if the perpetrator should return to campus. He's banned. In fact, if comes within five miles of her, he will have broken the dictates of the stalking order the court has issued to protect MB. I've been close to this situation and was really relieved today when more of my fellow teachers learned more about stalking in general, and this situation in particular.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 10/09/08: Good to Go, Invigorating Students, Mayor's Race

1. After my annual physical examination today, Dr. Ghandour issued me as clean of a bill of health as possible, given my chronic kidney disease. I am relieved to know that the other areas of my health are in good shape.

2. I had a great time in both my WR 121 sections today as students discussed what they saw the short film "Family Tree" had to say about loss, survival, and reconciliation. Their insights triggered the coursing of adrenaline throughout my system!

3. A tight mayoral race is under way in Eugene and the campaign manager for Jim Torrey is in my evening WR 121 class. I have enjoyed her enthusiasm for his candidacy. Among my friends and in my neighborhood, he's not a popular candidate at all. I'm undecided and find it refreshing to listen to my student. I'm not sure when I'll make my final decision.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sibling Assignment #76: This Ain't No Party, This Ain't No Disco

InlandEmpireGirl posed the following assignment to Silver Valley Girl and me:

Think of a movie theme song that stayed with you long after you saw the film. Share an experience about that movie or the theme.
Silver Valley Girl draws a surprise connection between HP's original laptop computer and "The Way We Were", here and InlandEmpireGirl explores her emotional history with waters and "A River Runs Through It", here.


Few movies inspire joy and nostalgia in me quite like Jonathan Demme's concert film of the Talking Heads, "Stop Making Sense".

Since the movie is a series of songs performed live in concert, it doesn't have a single theme song. Or does it? Is it"Psycho Killer", when the elastic David Byrne puts a cassette player on stage with a rhythm thump playing, hypnotizes his audience with an oddly joyous acoustic version of his homage to urban paranoia and 70's anxiety; or is it "Life During Wartime", an oddly upbeat and joyous homage to urban paranoia with war as a metaphor for the way Byrne saw life in Regan's America, and listening to the song today, well, is the theme that the Reagan years would last forever?

I don't know.

The movie's title "Stop Making Sense" comes from lines in the song "Girlfriend is Better", performed by the wiry Byrne in a huge business suit, making him look twice his size.

The concert and its music is all about multiple identities, lost identities, unknown identities, about the absurdity of living in a world so alien to what sustains life that we find ourselve not knowing who we are, constantly changing identities to try to adapt. We end up, as Byrne performs, as creatures whose gestures are disconnected from the words we say/sing and whose emotional responses are so confused that we dance joyously during war time and while someone is burning down the house.

This past summer, I attended a concert by the Pink Floyd tribute band "TheFloydian Slips" and as I listened to song after Pink Floyd song, exploring themes of death, alienation, numbness, hypocrisy, materialism, etc., I watched as audience members rocked out, cried "Whoo-Hoo", waved their arms deleriously over their heads, smoked pot, got drunk, and partied on.

It was absurd.

Merrymakers were partying while listening to songs evoking the most troublesome elements of modern life.

But it fits.

We do it all the time.

We live in a world defined by alienation, dehumanization, war, anxiety, displacement, loss of identity, wide gulfs ripped between language and reality and we party on.

We have to.

That's why I love "Stop Making Sense". The movie's a dance party soundtrack, with joyous dancers and singers, upbeat world beat rhythms, aerobic exercise, Byrne trotting around the stage, flailing about mirthfully, tirelessly.

But running counter to this joyous sound is the verbal substance of the songs as they portray the absurdity and alientation of modern life.

What else can we do in such a world? Mope? Despair? Turn off the music? Stop the dancing? Quit laughing?

No.

All co-exists. And "Stop Making Sense" makes the simultaneous existence of our anxiety and mirth an evening of sobering uplift.

I'm trying to think how many "Stop Making Sense" dance parties I attended in the mid-eighties.

Three. Maybe four. Five? We were all in on the joke. I remember with deep nostalgia how at Doug's apartment, in Kathleen's living room, at a political activist retreat, and elsewhere all of us at these parties laughed, danced hard, tried to imitate David Byrne, and opened our throats and sang hoarsely, with happy disconnect, the paranoid and chilling words of David Byrne:

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
this ain't no fooling around
This ain't no mudd club, or C. B. G. B.
I ain't got time for that now

Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
somebody might see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter
to last a couple of days
But I ain't got no speakers
ain't got no headphones
ain't got no records to play

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time?
Can't write a letter, can't send a postcard
I can't write nothing at all
This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
this ain't no fooling around
I'd love you hold you, I'd like to kiss you
I ain't got no time for that now

Three Beautiful Things 10/04/08: Sausage Mix, No on Palin, Refreshing Rain

1. Sometimes a bit of happiness comes from a couple of chopped up link sausages fried with potatoes and scrambled eggs poured into a warmed flour tortilla, covered with melted sharp cheddar cheese.

2. I can't do this all the time, but today I devoted hours to national blogs reading more about the election, about the candidates. I admit it. I succumbed to Palinmania, except I came out of it admiring her less and less; I find her more and more dispiriting. It's difficult for me to write this. I recognize Sarah Palin as a fellow small town, North Idaho born, former North Idaho College student. In ways, at first blush, she reminds me of girls from Kellogg I like a lot. But underneath that first blush of charm is her small town bred insecurity and feeling of inferiority (I relate to this) which she masks with bravado and her forced folksiness. I find her ugly. She resents intelligence, she's petty, defensive, and vengeful, lacks compassion while mouthing words of compassion, and tries to make verbal and flirty bullshit cover her lack of knowledge and curiosity. I'd love to be able to support her and I tried. I can't.

3. Pounding rain refreshed the air and helped green up the brown of our lawn.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sibling Assignment #75: Misery Lit. at Kellogg High School

SilverValley Girl gave me and InlandEmpireGirl this assignment:

Look back on your years as a student at Kellogg High School, and write
about a memorable moment in one of the classes you took. This could
be a postive or negative moment, but it has to be a very vivid memory,
and one you can retell with much detail.

Silver Valley Girl inspires high regard for her English instructor Dale Bachman, here and InlandEmpireGirl invokes the beauty of To Kill a Mockingbird, here.


My sisters wrote glowingly about their experiences studying literature at Kellogg High School.

I envy them.

My experience "studying" literature at Kellogg High School demoralized me.

It's miraculous that I went on to major in English in college and pursued graduate studies, let alone have become a college writing and literature instructor.

My senior English class encapsulates the passionless, bloodless, cowardly instruction I encountered.

I didn't know at the time, in my senior English class, that we were reading masterpieces of the English language. Our fiction anthology included D.H. Lawrence's "Rocking Horse Winner", Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Sharer", James Joyce's "Eveline" and other late 19th and 20th century monuments.

These stories experiment with point of view, shattering traditional ways of telling stories, and are poignant tales about the condition of the human person, especially in light of the changes in the world as the 19th century became the 20th.

We read these stories. Our teacher focused attention on literary terms: symbolism, atmosphere, point of view, images, metaphor, description and we memorized definitions of these terms and looked at examples of them.

But we didn't explore for a minute how these writers employed these strategies as a means of exploring human consciousness, of probing the difficulties of making one's way in an increasingly industrial, secular, and capitalistic world.

We just learned the terms.

When the writers used words we might be unfamiliar with, the anthology's editor marked these words and defined them at the bottom of the page.

When it came time to write an exam about these stories, our test was on the literary terms (never in the context of their use) and on these vocabulary words.

We never wrote about the little boy in "Rocking Horse Winner" feverishly rocking back and forth on his hobby horse, hearing the voices in the walls crying, "There must be more money"; we never talked about what his successful picks in horse races connoted or even about his death and what died with him.

If we discussed such matters in this class, I don't remember it. I remember the stifling heat of the classroom, feeling drowsy; I remember daydreaming, trying to escape the drone of our teacher as she went over vocabulary words and talked abstractly about foreshadowing.

I read these stories later in college. These stories have been on different syllabi I have taught. In my college courses and in my own classes, we've dived deep into these stories and wrestled with the anxiety they portray, wrestled with the how subjective consciousness and perception is, and how that makes human connection, at best, difficult.

I'm no longer angry about my Kellogg High School experience. For years, the experienced fuelled me as a teacher never to deal with literature superficially, to investigate stories and poems as fully and deeply and honestly as possible. This kind of instruction defines my teaching practice.

The disappointment of my KHS experience climaxed my sophomore year at North Idaho College.

I was back home in Kellogg, shopping at Stein Brother's IGA, and I ran into my senior English teacher.

I was excited to see her because I had fallen in love with literature.

We exchanged hellos and she asked me how I was, how school was going.

I enthused, "It's going great! I am having a great time! I really love poetry! It's really exciting."

"Oh," she replied, "I never really liked poetry."

Three Beautiful Things 10/03/08: Wonderful Students, Unexpected Attention, Pork and Chicken

1. Last night used the aid of computer projection in my WR 121 class and failed to put the mouse back on the charger. Consequently, this morning, when I presented some stuff from the computer to my World Literature class, the mouse didn't work. I was flummoxed. Members of the class patiently guided me through keyboard strokes that helped me overcome my mouse addiction. They were kind, solicitious, and eager to rescue me. My cup of gratitude runneth over.

2. I went to Mucho Gustos today and ordered a burrito and the burritoista who built my order chatted me up with rare friendliness and stopped me on my way out of the restaurant to ask me if I'd enjoyed my meal. It all caught me off guard, somehow. It warmed my day.

3. I splurged a little today and bought some meat products at Trader Joe's and look forward to fixing dinners this week so that the Deke will have supper ready when she arrives home in the evening from her exhausting new job as a fourth grade teacher.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

From Aden Nak:

Three Beautiful Things 10/02/08: My Own Private Utah, Attention Whores, Creamy Potato Soup

1. Three guys in my WR 121 class attended after being absent Tuesday for the first class. I randomly asked them if they were from Utah and it made the other students laugh.

2. CC started writing an essay on loss well ahead of my even assigning a paper and as we talked about what she was contemplating, she helped me see more clearly and deeply into the world of teenagers, some of whom will do anything for sympathy and attention. CC's not one of them.

3. The Deke made a marvelous potato soup over the weekend and I ate the last bowl of it when I returned from teaching evening school and I'm already longing for the next creamy pot.

Sibling Assignment #74: Fog Stroll

Sibling Assignment #74 comes from InlandEmpireGirl:
As autumn approaches think of a perfect fall day you have experienced. Using words and pictures, recapture that day.
InlandEmpireGirl posts a scrapbook of lovely autumn Lake Roosevelt images, here, and Silver Valley Girl recalls a fall getaway trip to Central Idaho, here.

Fall reaches perfection for me in early November. Trees stand bare. Sunny days give way to grey ones and the clouds lower to shoulder level, encasing Eugene in a damp, cold fog.

It's reverse humidity. Instead of the air being thick with heat, it's thick with chill. The sun's glare is gone. The fog moistens the skin. The grey relaxes the eyes. I feel alive.

On one such November day, in 1986, Doug and I walked from near downtown to the University of Oregon. We had no purpose. We just enjoyed the bracing effect of the cold and fog and enjoyed looking at the scarves and stocking caps and heavier coats people wore as they, too, were out strolling on campus.

The fog comforted me. It wrapped around me, like a quilt.

My girlfriend was in London and had told me she was with another guy.

The news devastated me and in this fog I felt closed in, protected, as if only the four or five feet ahead of me existed and the rest of the world had vanished.

Doug and I ran into a former student of mine, Kathrine, deeply intelligent, whose entire presence, from the black wool coat, white wool scarf, and pale green gloves to her receptive blue eyes and eager smile vivified Doug and me when we ran into her.

I introduced Doug and Katherine. We chatted. We went our separate ways.

That was it.

It was perfect. The fog. Doug's friendship. Our stroll. Katherine's loveliness. The cold. Our wool coats.

And the way the cold fog protected me from my inward torment.

It was the perfect fall day.

When the November all-day fog returns in several weeks, I'll walk in it, kick a few leaves, and remember Doug and Katherine. I'll shiver at the thought of how near that day twenty-two years ago feels.

Even as it recedes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Three Beautiful Things 10/01/08: Two Years, Two Thai Dinners, Never Too Many Insights


1. I started writing this blog on 10/01/06: today marks two years.

2. The Deke said, "Let's have some Thai food" and I was out the door to go get it. I can't remember the last time we had a take out Thai meal together. We sure enjoyed this one.

3. My World Lit students and I paused for a few minutes and explored the many ideas and experience the image/metaphor "cup" stands for in the 23rd Psalms (my cup runneth over). Especially fun, for me, was to listen to the students' insights who had never read this hymn/poem/psalm before. It's so fun to listen to students for whom a familiar piece of literature is totally unfamiliar.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sibling Assignment #73: Shakespeare and the Mystery of the Meaning of Life

It's time to really get back in the swing of things on this blog. I'm dreadfully behind in writing sibling assignments, so one of the first things I'll do is caught up.

InlandEmpireGirl raised this question for Sibling Assignment #73:
As the school year here is the assignment. Write about a school experience that was significant to your school life. Describe the experience and why it was significant.
InlandEmpireGirl remembers being a public poet in the sixth grade here and Silver Valley Girl explores arriving at a deeper understanding of the relevance of essay writing, here.


When I enrolled at Whitworth College in 1974, I don't know what I thought I would discover through my study of Shakespeare. The Shakespeare course was required for my English major. Eileen, whom I would marry in two years, loved Shakespeare and we decided to take the course together.

In my two years at North Idaho College, almost all of my study of literature was concentrated in the twentieth century. I fell in love with the modern study of stories and poems that explored the lonely, alienated condition of the human being in an empty and meaningless world and the great weight of responsibility the modern human being carried to make meaning out of h/her existence in a world devoid of essential meaning.

I had experienced this meaninglessness in the summer of 1973 when I was nearly killed at the Bunker Hill Zinc Plant. The accident resulted from a random human error. It was purposeless, unprovoked, and unrelated to whether I was a good person or to anything I did.

I was blinded. During the days I was blind, my eyes turned inward and within myself I saw the very nothingness that modern writers explored as the one universal truth about life. I confronted the benign indifference of the universe within myself.

I came to believe that forging meaning in such an empty world was up to me. Through my study of literature at North Idaho College, I obsessively worked to figure out the meaning of my life and life itself.

When I commenced my study of Shakespeare, I thought I would find in Shakespeare's plays a well-ordered world, free of the absurdity of the modern world. I thought I would find these plays outdated, irrelevant to the struggles of my existential crisis.

The first day of the course, our professor, Dean Ebner, introduced Shakespeare by telling us that we would be entering into an exploration of the meaning of life. I gasped. Why would studying Shakespeare's plays and his characters involve exploring life's meaning? I thought that "back then" it was figured out and that it was thanks to the obliterating impact of the two world wars in the twentieth century that the meaning of life had been erased. I thought the question of life's meaning was a modern question.

Early in the course, the plays did not shake me up. I didn't feel the tremors of anxiety and doubt about the meaning of life I had felt studying modern literature.

But then we studied Othello. Iago began to shake me. I couldn't believe that an "old writer" from the turn of the 16th into the 17th century could have imagined and created such an amoral and duplicitous character so energetically committed to evil. I couldn't believe Iago's glee.

I was reading Othello in the basement of South Warren Hall and began to tremble. The character Othello was in an existential predicament. The world of loyalty and trust that Othello had assumed to be intact started to unravel. Absurdity, chaos, unpredictablity, all engineered by Iago became the dominant reality of his world. He couldn't make sense of it. Fear and rage fuelled by his outrage at the deterioration of his world view began to destroy him from within himself. Othello lurched from extreme distraction to murderous calm, unable to forge meaning out of his disillusion.

I was getting it. There is no such thing "back then". It hit me. Human beings have always wrestled with how to make sense out life, out of the excruciating demands of mutablility, out of the pain and disillusion of things in life never being what we might idealize them to be.

As we moved forward to Hamlet and especially King Lear, I spent more and more time leaving my dorm room and walking through the November fog that encased the towering pine trees on Whitworth's campus, feeling the passion of Shakespeare's tragedies, exploring how my life at this very young age paralleled the uncertainty, painful self-exploration, loss of idealism, and riddling mysteries Shakespeare brought to life in the actions and interior monologues of these characters.

To this day, thirty-four years later, Shakespeare is the philosopher and artist I look to with the most trust to help me understand what a dicey, often unfair, and inherently contradictory experience human life is.

Shakespeare's plays and poetry helped light my understanding of all other writers and all other philosophers I've studied.

It was through my study of Shakespeare that I have come to understand the complexity of the stories of the Bible and the parables and poetic words of Jesus.

No other writer has so profoundly shaped my perceptions, insight, wisdom, or understanding of love, war, politics, despair, redemption, restoration, human nature, and the condition of human life itself.