Against being against epiphanies

Some of you may like my latest essay on the Good Letters channel at Patheos. It covers everything from Oliver Stone to a young Whittaker Chambers, with a slight dose of literary criticism mixed in. Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve been reading recently published short fiction—in journals, in anthologies. It seems that everyone took Baxter to heart. Perhaps I just got a bad batch, but it seems the order of the day is muddy ambivalence. How do I feel about my mother? My abortion? My boyfriend who is kind of there but kind of not? I don’t really know and I don’t know if I care.

Every protagonist seems medicated, every impulse dulled. I read one story that ended like that season of Dallas when they shot J.R.—this was all in my imagination. I read another that ended almost literally in mid-action.

I get it; I get it. Life is an accumulation of regrets. Your father probably will die before you set aside time to hash things out. Many of our deliberated actions arehalf-hearted or unsure or aborted. We stumble over ourselves and think we know things that later we don’t know and then we forget that we ever thought we knew them. Life is a big goddamned mess.

And yet…

You can read the rest here.


  1. Marc V

    Yes, there is a desire for epiphanies. We seek God’s will, ask for His knowledge and are sometimes blessed by His wisdom. Last Sunday our class discussed the need for “burning bush” moments, when something supernatural happens and can be a marker for change in your life. Some people get a few in their life, others may only get one (or none?). We walk by faith and not by sight, yet we like to be reminded of His power.

    I brought up the “manna moments” we have, when we’re faced with various problems that seem intractable yet the Lord helps us through: more month than paycheck, too tired to finish a job, a loved one in trouble. In addition we serve a God who provides “times of quail”, where He even blesses grumblers. I feel the need for an epiphany to understand that, yet I remind myself to stay away from grumbling. Thankful in all circumstances …

    [PS I used your previous essay on enemies as a framework for a Sunday School lesson a few weeks ago. Not something taught or “sermonized” but interesting how Scripture handles the topic.]

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