I promised you, My Dear Readers, a writer achievement blast last week, but I didn’t get around to it, because I get sidetracked. But here’s the first one of the year, and it’s about my friend, and fellow writer, John Backman. I’ve read things he’s written before, and when he told me about some of the stuff he’s written lately I expected it to be good, but I didn’t expect it to grab me like it did, to stay with me, lingering long after I’d turned off my phone and gone to bed. And this is not because John’s work doesn’t typically move me. It’s because I think I’ve been numbed by the raging horribleness that is the world we live in today.
The earthquakes in Puerto Rico that are literally tearing the island apart, the massive fires in Australia, the plane that went down in Iran, etc…There is so much to be sad about, that one tends to shut if all off and let the bad news run off our hearts like a bad rainstorm off a window pane. But John’s work cuts away at some of this, and that, my dear friends, is what great writing is, in case you’re looking for it. You can point to it. You can say, “Here it is. Here’s the example I’ve been trying to reference.”
We’ve been pals on Facebook for several years now. We met through a mutual friend, and I’m always impressed and moved with whatever John writes and whatever he posts. He doesn’t speak just to be heard, and he doesn’t post or write just for the sake of doing it. There is always purpose and inspiration in his work, and I wanted to share his brilliance and beauty with you this week. Please take the time to check out his articles, posts and website. I know that you will be blessed and moved. Have a wonderful week, friends. God bless us, everyone.
Short Fiction: “Into the Arms of the One True Gods” (The Braided Way: Faces and Voices of Spiritual Practice).
“Somewhere in the chanting of divine names—Govinda, Krishna, Ganesh, dozens of voices in a cross between music and roar—I looked around the auditorium and saw Jesus and didn’t know what to think.
Nothing in my fundamentalist youth had prepared me for this. Granted, I hadn’t been a fundamentalist for decades: that version of me would never have set foot in a massive arena with 10,000 others—pagans, Muslims, Jains, you name it—for an event like the Parliament of the World’s Religions. I certainly wouldn’t have been there to speak on building bridges across religious divides. That only came from being nudged onto a different path, one that had me keeping company with monks and mystics and a more elusive Christian-ish god who loved me but also baffled me…”
Spiritual Essays: “No Thank You Necessary”–a reflection by John Backman (Amethyst Review: New Writing Engaging With the Sacred)
“‘Jesus does not require great actions from us, but only surrender and gratitude.”
The first time I read this it stopped me cold. I’ve tried to live by it ever since, at least the surrender part. Surrender I get: God (I think it’s God, but who can tell?) has been nudging me off the conventional track for many years now and I’m like Thérèse, too much in love to resist.
Surrender I get. Gratitude is fuzzier…”
Collection of Essays about the Q in LGBTQ: “Scenes From the Q of LGBTQ+” (Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations)
Excerpt: “I explain my spot on the spectrum this way: When I look at all the elements of my life—my emotional makeup, my most intimate friendships, my attitudes and behaviors, the movies I watch, even my gestures—I cannot look at that whole package and meaningfully apply the word man. It just doesn’t fit.”
When you’re finishing reading John’s work, go read some more of it. You can find him here and you can read his book here.