Issue 35: Vice & Virtue

Spring 2023

In this, the thirty-fifth issue of The Other Journal, we take up the notions of vice and virtue. J. Derek McNeil responds to Paul Hoard’s experience of white rage by considering communal belonging and the possibility of finding communion across cultural differences. Taylor Worley reflects on the potential of conceptual art—Felix Gonzalez-Toress’s work, in particular—to reorient our sense of self and to reintroduce wonder. Noel Forlini Burt invites us to approach the formative pages of the word of God with a child’s delight rather than the mastery of a scholar, and Brandy Daniels and David Farina Turnbloom reflect on the ways the academia has mistaken the vice of excess as a virtue, whereas Jonathan Odell and Mitchell Toews separately share stories of how we mistake the virtue of love for a vice.

These contributions—and others—tackle the themes of vice and virtue with verve and slant. From interstate highways, they radiate with anger and expectation. From crowded hallways and windy midwestern snowscapes, they grapple with the loss of a father or a friend. From Shakespeare’s Globe theater, they quiver with appropriate laughter and then show how we might learn from laughter gone wrong. We hope they challenge our preconceived notions of moral righteousness and the world’s false sense of justice, and we believe they will aid us as we attempt to build a new, virtuous world.

Marjorie Maddox

The Rescue Mission of Eleanor and Gilbert Kraus

I. Alfred Berg The eldest at fourteen, I took his place: Heinrich Steinberger, suddenly ill, too sick to flee Vienna. He did not survive the Holocaust. Heinrich Steinberger, suddenly ill— of the fifty chosen, the only one to stay. He did not survive the Holocaust. With my sister, I, instead, boarded the ship, among the […]

Krista Jane May

Flight 1961

“Come on, Janet, don’t you want to fly?” Kelley would be lying on the floor, night-black hair fanned out on the orange carpet, arms in the air, legs raised slightly, waiting. Janet, thrilled with anticipation, would gently place Kelley’s feet on her belly, clasp her hands, and then up, up, up she’d go as Kelley […]

Eda Zahl

Repeat and Heal

I took a class in divine healing with the Pentecostals, the ones who lay on hands and speak in tongues. Fortunately, the class was in English. I signed up after County Hospital said I was dying, but I didn’t die. Free hospitals are shaky, I told myself, and mistakes get made. It was either that […]

Paul R. Hoard, Tim Suttle

Lacanian Virtue Ethics? Cultivating Virtue Through Failure

Nobody shows up in the world with a fully formed understanding of what it means to be human. Instead, we are born into a community that trains its members, forming each within a particular tradition. This instruction happens iteratively through the repeated imposition of habits and stories that shape the way members of the community […]

Robert Vivian

Even If Our Ink Is Faint

For we are broken children after all, and we have to learn again how to play, all the beautiful animals and creatures of this tender and fierce maternal earth and the four cardinal directions and the four seasons teaching us how to stalk and prowl and hide and die as they do and how to […]

Jonathan Lewis

An Ode to Political Humility: Relearning the Kingdom of God

In the past seven years, cataclysmic events have caused divisions and frustrations to rise in the broader society and church. The US presidential elections, COVID-19 pandemic, racial tensions, war in Ukraine, and inflation have left many of us exhausted but on edge. These are global traumas and stresses, but I sense that the heart of […]

Jane Hahn

Feast of the Crippled

Even the dust he clapped from his sandals rises, an epiphany, in the vacant dawn. The chaff surrenders to sunless wind, and even sinners know the nullity of the flame’s embrace. The agony is not in what we are but in what we might have been. Fishhooks glint from the red-root wound, pulsing and snagging […]

Jordan Daniel Wood

Virtue and Vice as True and False Incarnation

I’ve come to think that this passage states the fundamental logic of Christian life: If then you were raised with Christ, seek those realities above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Focus your mind upon the realities above, not upon realities moving toward the earth. For you have died, and your […]

Cabe Matthews

Divine Action: A Review of Andrew Root’s Ministry in a Secular Age

Andrew Root, Ministry in a Secular Age, 5 vols (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017–22). We have all seen it. No matter how cool your church’s youth pastor, the teenagers keep slipping away from the faith. No matter how gifted your pastor or how fruitful her ministry, she nonetheless walks around as if in a […]

J. Derek McNeil

White Rage: In Discourse with Paul Hoard

In Paul Hoard’s essay for The Other Journal on race and white rage, he describes a personal “awakening” experience as a white-bodied cisgender male that is honest and courageous, particularly in a current political context that has more volume than direction.[1] Hoard steps into a dialogue that is many generations old, and yet we’ve only […]

Mitchell Toews

Pass It to Freddie

MARTY AND FREDERICK, I The two stood in a hard-packed dirt barnyard, facing the end wall of an old dairy barn. The smell of cows still permeated the air. It was sweet, fetid, and oddly appealing—the kind of smell that was at first unpleasant but that, over time, one grew accustomed to. After a while, […]

Brandy Daniels, David Farina Turnbloom

The Virtuous Professor?

I (Brandy) remember the first time I was considering graduate school and reached out to one of my favorite professors for advice. I expected feedback about where to apply and what to do or not do in my application materials. Instead, my professor spent the majority of the hour trying to talk me out of […]

Jonathan Odell

Grace, Glitter and Radio Preachers

Ten years ago, a childhood friend came out to me. He was nearly sixty and living in Laurel, Mississippi, the small town where we both grew up. He said he had been seeing the same woman now for twenty years, unable to come to terms with his sexuality. He had had plenty of sex with […]

Jimmy Lis

House of the Holy

Smudged ivory wallpaper peeks out through elbow crooks or from gaps between bowed necks in the hallway. From the living room, I squeeze myself into the mass of visitors and lean back into the wall, hoping to melt in. My wife has retreated to the enclosed kitchen near the front door, not ready to scale […]

Noel Forlini Burt

To Read Like a Child

To enter the children’s literature section at Fabled, a bookstore in the heart of downtown Waco, Texas, children are invited to climb through a wardrobe lined with fur coats. While there are other ways to enter this area of the store, most children choose the wardrobe. Framing the entrance in this way does more than […]

Zac Walsh


. . . who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out. . . . Luke 8.2 NASB KINGS There’s what my husband knew about me, and then there’s everything else. The latter seems to add notches to itself often and fast, faster certainly than I could ever distract him. Some world, huh, […]

Lori A. Kanitz

Proximity, Justice, and the Imagining Heart

As a professor and administrator at Christian universities, I have spent my entire career thinking about moral formation. The collective aim of our educational efforts, as I have understood them, is to graduate students who are not only highly skilled but also humane, students who had been invited into experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, that habituate the theological and cardinal virtues—love, faith, hope, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

Taylor Hare

Tragedy in Shared Light

The white walls and thatched roof of Shakespeare’s Globe overlook the Thames in London’s Bankside district. Since its opening in 1997, productions staged in this reconstruction of the outdoor theater owned by William Shakespeare’s playing company have adhered to what scholars call “original practice” principles: they loosely approximate the conditions that governed performances in the […]

Dani Nichols

Chasing Life and Flannery O’Connor

A week ago, I sat in a rocking chair on Flannery O’Connor’s screened-in porch in rural Georgia. It was ninety-five and humid, with the still, thick air so endemic of southern summertime. I was holding my newborn, a little boy with dark skin and dark hair, only mine because his first mother loved him enough […]

Amy Cook

The Millennium Snow

I. Deep into the mindcaves of January, the first month of the new millennium, Dick Remley was dying. In my despondency, I resorted to the church. I could see the boulder of grief composing itself in the distance, an avalanche collecting speed on a steep hill, and I found myself strapped to the ground below. […]

Taylor Worley

Art at the Edge of Mourning

The artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres was my introduction to conceptual art. At the time, I had no idea how profoundly affecting his work would be in my life and on my understanding of art. Nor could I have imagined how his artworks would allow me to acknowledge the history of the AIDS crisis he experienced. When […]

Libby Kurz

Shock Value

If you really want to shock people, I recommend attending a girls’ night out with your coworkers and announcing that you were still a virgin when you got married. The look on their faces will be more primal than even the best orgasm could yield. It was early December, early evening, and already dark outside […]

Blake Kilgore

Confession on Interstate 295

“Our child is coming!” your expectant lover might have said, so your red hot-rod baby weaved right and left, always headlong, until you slipped behind someone’s grandmom, or another’s just-beginning firstborn, nervous— more now—and their foot slides over the brake and breaks momentum, and then I see a rancorous waving finger, another hasty swerve just […]

Paul R. Hoard

Beyond Fragility: Interpassive White Rage

Her eyes filled with terror at the sight of me, and she sped out of that South Carolina parking lot, tires screeching. I stood there holding my jumper cables and feeling confused, shocked, and ashamed. I’d forgotten to turn off the headlights on my old Honda. and my car battery was dead. I thought I […]