Issue 36: Creation

Fall 2023

Saint Augustine did not believe that God needed creation. God, in God’s eternality and completion, lacked for nothing. And so the Christian tradition often claims that the world does not satisfy some need or lack in God. This is why Rowan Williams argues that creation is rather useless, even as it is perfectly fitting and appropriate for God to create the world. But here, in the thirty-sixth issue of The Other Journal, as we consider the theme of creation, Lisa Powell pres- ents an alternative view, highlighting Christ’s solidarity with us and noting that creation is the fulfillment of God’s triune identity.

Joy Moore’s essay “Go Ahead and Haunt Me” asks us to listen for “the God whose tonic note trembles in every chord and creature,” and Abigail E. Myers is blessed by Sergey Rachmaninoff ’s All-Night Vigil. The poet D. S. Martin asks us to recall the shimmering song of the light. And Episcopal priest Will Levanway directs us to hear the words of the heavens on the faces of tarot cards.

From the silence of the desert or a monastery to an Eden ringing with the seduction of words, let us learn of ourselves. Let us wrestle with how we care for creation as we float the Elk River with David Hunsicker and watch the pelicans with Laura Hicks Hardy. Let us find God in proton-antiproton collisions and in the Old Testament tabernacle. As the poet Brian Johnson might say, the world is alive with incarnation—join us as we watch for its echoes.

Will Levanway

As Above, So Below

The heavens speak, dear reader. Their celestial communication, though, often falls on deaf ears, unwilling hearers, and naive poets unattuned to their voice. Psalm 19:1–4 spells out this situation: “The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament sheweth his handywork. One day telleth another: and one night certifieth another. There is neither speech […]

Laura Hicks Hardy

You Are An Icon

So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them. Genesis 1:21-11 NRSVue The clank and rumble of machinery mix with the hollow surf sound as my […]

Beth Ritter-Conn

Knitwit

for mom The yarn was the color of vanilla ice cream. Usually my eye is drawn to vivid color, the brighter and gaudier the better. I told someone recently that my general aesthetic is “insane hippie,” and the truth is I like things just this side of tacky. Give me variegated, give me self-striping, saturate […]

Sarah Klaassen

An Unlikely Prayer

MAY 2018 “The desert doesn’t care.” Of all the words on nondescript Bureau of Land Management signs in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, these are the four that I remember. We park the car by two others in a dusty gravel lot at the Boulder Mail Trailhead, just outside of Escalante, Utah. The afternoon sun heat […]

Spencer Lane Jones

Preces

I. April 2022 I was too slow to take a picture on the first morning. I didn’t see her until I’d backed out of my spot. Seeing her alive, her neck held high, stunned me. I lived by a traffic-congested intersection in Greenville, South Carolina, across the street from an abandoned lot, a bus stop, […]

David Hunsicker

The Confessions of a Fair to Middling Angler

The summer of 2003 I worked for Young Life at its property on Upper Saranac Lake in New York. One week, I was enlisted to lead an unplanned hike to the summit of Ampersand Mountain. After five and a half miles, the campers reached a bald rocky peak above the clouds where they could look […]

Abigail Myers

Vigil in the Afternoon

Shuffling in from the downpour under the portico of Grace Church, I fumble for a fresh KN95 mask, then withdraw my phone from my pocket to display my electronic vaccination pass and, then, in a separate app, my tickets. Yes, of course, thank you, yes, it’s a few extra steps these days, isn’t it? Thank […]

Galen T. Pickett

The Word

Elizabeth frowned at the data that poured across her screen, a numerical record of the impossibly small. But there was nothing exotic or terribly remarkable about the collision products that scrolled past, just a series of transverse, elastic proton-antiproton collisions. The very existence of these pbar particles, the antiparticle of the humble proton, was unnerving […]

Emily Rose Proctor

Praise to the Yellow Fly

No cheery buzz to announce her— smaller, swifter than her equine cousin, more determined than the mosquito to force us all indoors for the last few weeks before the unbearable summer swelter begins. Praise to the yellow fly, like us—lover of shade and water, forest and bay, equal opportunity  spreader of misery, her bloodlust  a […]

Emily Rose Proctor

Gazelle or Skunk (Adam Remembers)

In those first days, when I discovered my lips, my tongue, my teeth, and what they could do, I named the other creatures without rhyme or reason, named them first just to hear myself speak, then to hear the different sounds out loud: the click and smack, the hiss and oh—but how could I possibly remember […]

Tzivia Gover

Before the Bite

Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai. Genesis 11:29 NRSV I pluck a date (plump as the drops of rain that surprise the skin on the back of my neck at the start of the wet season) from a copper bowl, twin of the fruit that (mere hours before) taught […]

Brian Johnson

Big With Child

Emptiness is big with child And Thievery the same:  Thievery’s big with child. The window is too big With child, again When it rains. Forests, they are big with child.                                                     If you lose your way, you lose the child. A hat is also big with child. Straw or felt, with child— Panama, ten-gallon, Big with […]

Collin Cornell

Theologizing With the Tabernacle

Genesis 1, the Bible’s opening chapter, should not serve as the center for Christian theologies of creation. Yes, its first verse is a site of grammatical contest between competing conceptions of God and the world: in some translations (e.g., NIV and NKJV), we read “in the beginning, God created,” or that God makes creation out […]

Mirjam Elbers

Israel’s Anti-Religious Revolution Does Not Need Fixing

Karen Armstrong, Sacred Nature: How We Can Recover Our Bond with the Natural World (London, UK: Bodley Head, 2022). The British author Karen Armstrong has a knack for connecting with the concerns of society, and this book, Sacred Nature, is no exception, as it engages our troubled relationship with nature and how that relationship is […]

Micah Cronin

Resisting Homophobic Theologies with Karl Barth (of All People)

Homophobic, transphobic, and masculinist theologies are not primarily the result of scriptural misinterpretation, honest cultural differences, and the like—they are the result of idolatry. These are theologies that conflate God with a human, cisgender vision of gender and sexuality, theologies that conveniently uphold a specific set of power relations. This idea finds its most explicit […]

Elaine Heath

The Church of Sheep and Goats

Spring Forest is the church of my wildest dreams. There are sheep and goats grazing in our fields, and what could be better than that? Today, as always, the land is gorgeous with loblollies and beech, a woodland trail, whitetail deer, and tidy crops in low-till rows. A dozen kids and moms are in the […]

D.S. Martin

Shimmering

What is that shimmering   that catch of light that startles the shadows?   It’s like the way a grackle’s sheen   forsakes its night-dark   as it draws closer   black taking on the iridescence of violet   bronze & green   almost like the dance of air’s architecture over the Horseshoe Falls   forks from thunderheads   gleams from windshields   flames in […]

Joy Moore

Go Ahead and Haunt Me

My mother’s grand piano, a shiny black Yamaha, was one of the few constants during my childhood. It accompanied us as we moved to new houses, cities, and states, each time settling into its own room. Every day, my mother would sit on her matching upholstered bench to practice while I played beneath it on […]

Lisa Powell

Would It Be Lonely to Be God?

“I think it must be lonely to be God,” begins a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks.[1] The poem’s narrator describes the elements of jovial companionship we relish as humans—the walks together, the slaps on the shoulder, the sharing of a Coke or a beer—and ponders how God can enjoy these relational interactions while striding “through the […]

Richard C. Goode

Loving the World by Leaving It

By early 2022, I found that words exhausted me. I longed for a fast from the collegiate world’s wearisome menu of producing and consuming words. It also seemed that my ability to hear God was lost in incessant, deafening verbiage. Like Elijah in 1 Kings 19, who on Mount Horeb looked for God in the […]

Jamie Lin

Dust and Ashes

On the last day of Grandma’s funeral, we gathered at the crematorium. The entire extended family, a few dozen of us, filed slowly into a two-story air-conditioned viewing gallery with a floor-to-ceiling glass pane at one end. We entered above and made our way downward, just like in a stadium or amphitheater, except there were […]

Ahsan Chowdhury

The Morality Police

At last, we agreed that we would perform the umra or the lesser hajj. It was the winter of 2018. My freshman classes had just ended. The mercury had begun to dip below twenty. The tuxedoed magpies were the only visitors in our frozen backyard. One of my wife’s crying jags woke me up in […]

Tin Fogdall

After Inventing Day and Night

then pausing to take the first mental picture of a tilted coastline going dim, God let her breasts drizzle snow. She pollinated meadow rue, gave birth to delta clay, tornadoes, porcupines. Generations fell through her gate, organelle by eyelash by antler. Soon, creation discovered itself in a mirror, began eating its own legs and tail. […]