About Gregory Wolfe

Lorenzo the Magnificent

LorenzoHe liked to be called El Santo (Spanish for “the Saint”). In almost anyone else on the planet it would be considered a sort of spiritual vanity or pretension. But in the case of Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete it was both a joke and a piece of deep theological wisdom.

Come to think of it, just about everything Lorenzo said or did was both a joke and a theological truth.

I think he liked being called El Santo because he was making fun of his own status as a beloved priest and leader in North America of the international lay Catholic movement known as Communion and Liberation. He knew that faces lit up when he entered the room.

But it probably didn’t hurt that another “El Santo” was a wrestler who, in the words of Wikipedia, was “one of the most famous and iconic of all Mexican luchadores.”

Like a luchador, Lorenzo wrestled fiercely—in his case, with life’s deepest questions, including the nature of the human heart, the relationship between reason and emotion, the meaning of suffering, and how to become a free person—the latter being the destiny of every saint.

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The Saint John’s Bible: Back to the Future

9-st-john-depicted-as-a-scribe-from-bodleian-library-ms-auct-d-1-17The story of how the text of the Bible was set down and transmitted is one we all know by heart.

Once upon a time, ancient scribes set the sacred words down on papyrus, followed a few centuries later by monks in dimly lit scriptoria putting ink and gold leaf on richly illuminated pages of vellum. Then came the revolution of Gutenberg’s printed books and finally the digital age dawned, giving us the Bible in myriad forms, from searchable online versions to verses that we have texted daily to our smartphones.

This narrative has also typically been imbued with a clear moral: the Word, once captive to economic, technological, and cultural limits that enabled a small elite to hoard and control it, eventually succumbed to democratizing forces that enabled scripture to become the prized possession of every individual believer.

Needless to say, it’s hard to argue with a tale of liberation from oppression. Who’s going to pick the empire over the rebels? [Read more...]

In a Domain of Sheep, He was a Lion:
Tributes to D.G. Myers from Friends & Colleagues

D.G. Myers

Photo by Gil Roth

The writer, critic, and literary scholar D.G. Myers died September 26 at the age of sixty-two, almost seven years to the day after he was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. David wrote about his illness as he wrote about books and his faith–incisively, forthrightly, with vast knowledge, and without self-pity. In August, David wrote in an email: “When someone replies to me, ‘We’re all dying,’ as if to relieve my mind, I want to punch him.”

As many of you know, David joined Good Letters, the blog from Image journal, a few months back and wrote several posts about his experience with cancer, some of which were shared widely.

Click here to find a link to all seven posts David wrote for Good Letters.

Click here for David’s “A Commonplace Blog.”

We’ve invited a group of David’s friends, old and new, to participate in a tribute to his life and work. Two themes unify the following tributes and remembrances: while few of the contributors met David in the flesh, all felt welcomed into his world; and the bond they forged transcended politics, religion, and literary tastes. To know David was to be challenged and rewarded. [Read more...]

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Creative Writers According to St. Augustine, Part 2

st-augustine-2-1-2Guest post by Gregory Wolfe

The post, continued from yesterday, is adapted from a commencement address given at the Seattle Pacific University MFA in Creative Writing graduation ceremony in Santa Fe, NM on August 9, 2014.

5: Make your writing a prayer.

This point may sound overly pious but I don’t mean it in a pietistic way.

I’m not suggesting that you imitate Augustine, who wrote the entirety of the Confessions as a single, continuous prayer. But what he did in that book offers us some clues about how to be better writers.

Every prayer, even the short ones we blurt out in times of need, is language that is shaped to some extent: consecrated speech. In prayer we search for words to express our need, seek help, and give thanks. The very act of prayer is thus a search, a journey.

Augustine peppers his Confessions with questions, and I can’t think of a more spiritual form of devotion than questions that are posed with passion and genuine openness to the unknown, the unexpected sources of grace.

What if everything you wrote was a prayer to God and a prayer for communion with your reader?

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Creative Writers According to St. Augustine, Part 1

podium-640x426Guest post by Gregory Wolfe

The following is adapted from a commencement address given at the Seattle Pacific University MFA in Creative Writing graduation ceremony in Santa Fe, NM on August 9, 2014.

I’ve been thinking that in the rapidly changing, cutthroat literary marketplace—where it’s easier to get published but harder to make any money or sustain a career—that my usual commencement “blah blah blah,” based as it is on old-fashioned rhetorical devices like carefully elaborated arguments drenched in a heavy sauce of gravitas, just won’t cut it anymore.

No, it’s time to loosen the tie, roll up the sleeves, and get practical. So, while I’m going to follow my usual pattern and speak on topics suggested by the texts we’ve been reading together, I’m junking the literary essay for the much more profitable format of bullet-pointed self-help advice. You graduates deserve nothing less.

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