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Friday, July 14, 2017

On Writing - Part VII

On Writing

Words dissemble, words be quick, words resemble walking sticks. 
Watch them, they will grow, watch them waiver so. 
I’ll always be a word man, better than a bird man

- Jim Morrison

Part VII

I have two Master’s Degrees; I completed the first in the study of Theology, with a concentration in Church History and Systematics, at Saint John’s University in Collegeville; The second in Liberal Studies, in Creative Writing Program at Hamline University in Saint Paul.

I am proud of the thesis’ I wrote for those degrees.

My work in theology was the fulfillment of an argument that I had been working on for many years.

When I was young, early in my teens I stumbled on this argument:

If God has the desire to save all people,
And if God has the power to save all people,
Then all people will be saved.

If A and B, then C
A and B, therefore C

The argument struck me as simple and beautiful, and in its simplicity it had great power.

I had tested its power in hundreds of conversations, and found it to be unassailable,

It was the 1980’s, and I was fifteen, hanging out on the street, encountering born-again Christians.

The first time I used this argument, my interlocutor became visibly confused, he could not respond to it, and he left in distress.

I experienced a sense of victory, and I was pleased.
It was not that I had won an argument with this one person, though I had.

I knew at that moment that I had won the argument against the most common understanding of Christianity, and its most harmful dogma.

I had won a historical argument.

I had won a cosmic argument.

I had used my faith that God, the creator of the universe, is a loving being, and destroyed the notion that God condemns anyone to hell.

That simple syllogism did the trick.

I was not satisfied to make this argument on street corners and in cafes. I pursued it into higher education.

I tackled various counterarguments in numerous papers as an undergraduate, while pursuing a double major in Philosophy and Theology at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul.

I took that work with me to Collegeville, and reconstructed for my first Master’s thesis, and the argument in its simplest form remained unchanged, and continued to deliver me victories.

Between 2001 when I finished at Saint John’s, and 2009 when I started at Hamline, I worked intermittently, on a variety of writing projects.

I brought nothing to fruition.

I began work on a couple of novels, I eventually quit them.

They were in the science fiction genre, I worked on them for months before I set them aside.

At that time, I lacked the will to continue, I lacked clarity and purpose, and the daily discipline to sit down and write.

The greatest obstacle in my writing life is me, I lacked sustained commitment. I had a reticence to submit my work for publication.
Poor habits, substance abuse, smoking and drinking, they ate into my time and my creative energy,

I had a fear of being accepted, a fear of not being good enough, of not being recognized.

I kept writing anyway, and eventually enrolled myself in a program to help me take my writing to a new level.

I endeavored to earn another degree, this time not because I had an argument that I wanted to win, an argument that had been driving me.

This time I was in pursuit of writing for the sake of writing, because I felt as if  I had something to say, which we all do, a contribution to make.

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