An Interview With Will D. Campbell
When we said, “Be a Christian,” who we really got that from was Thomas Merton: Be what you are. You are already katallagete; you are already reconciled. So behave as if that’s true. It’s a fine point to make, but it’s a very important and, I think, radical point.
A Eulogy For Mark O’Brien
That O’Brien was out on the streets and not hidden away in some nursing home was a testament to his Irish dander. Remember, this is a man who — since the age of six — had the use of one muscle in his right foot, one muscle in his neck, and one in his jaw. That’s it. He made full use of all three. He used the foot muscle to steer his monster machine; he used the other two to bang with a stick on the keys of a computer, to write, cajole, editorialize, storm, cry, laugh, and rage. You tell me he wasn’t a nut case?
I was laughing at myself, at twenty years of a ministry which had become, without my realizing it, a ministry of liberal sophistication, an attempted negation of Jesus. A ministry of human engineering, of riding on the coattails of Caesar, of playing in his ballpark, by his rules, and with his ball; of looking to government to make and verify and authenticate our morality, of worshiping at the shrine of enlightenment and academia, of making an idol of the Supreme Court; a theology of law and order and of denying, not only the faith I professed to hold, but my history and my people — the Thomas Colemans. For, as much as Jonathan Daniel, they were loved. And if loved, forgiven. And if forgiven, reconciled.
I can’t make it through a Seder without laughing. Across the table, my sister makes faces at me and walks her parsley across her plate. The balls of gefilte fish quiver on the good china, dressed in a suspension that we call “snot” and carefully scrape off with our forks.
Little Zooey died today. Pam and I were in the backyard playing with the dogs when we heard a knock at the front door. Pam went around the side of the house to see who it was and came back a few minutes later with Zooey cradled in her arms. There was no blood, but the cat’s head hung slack, her tongue sticking out of her mouth. It was plain that she was dead. Pam was crying freely, and I felt a quick surge of grief myself.
It’s been almost a year and a half since my book of poems was accepted for publication by a small press. This spring, I got a call informing me that the book would come out in the summer. Now, with only a few days of summer remaining, I am getting discouraged. Impulsively, I pick up the phone to call the publisher for news of my book. If I thought about it for very long, I wouldn’t call. I fear that maybe he has lost interest in the book or changed his mind.
Katrina had been talking about the garden for years, as long as he’d known her. Some women dream of white weddings, or sandy beaches, or new diamond rings; she dreamed of spinach and lettuce, garlic and tomatoes, and tall native grass in the spring. Each day, the man looks out the window above their bed and sees that there is more to be done, that her garden is green but not green enough.