Mining the Text
Heather Grennan Gary



In “The Unknowable More,” an essay by Stephanie Paulsell that appeared in our Easter issue, she referenced medieval readers who looked for “sparklets,” or “bits of text that sparkled up at them as they read.”

Dear reader, I’ve found a bounty of sparklets in this issue. The essays, columns, and poems cover a wide array of topics, and, unlike many recent issues of the Cresset, do not have an obvious through-line that clearly connects them—but the sparklets glitter nonetheless. My sparklets will not be the same as yours, but I am eager to share a few that caught my eye:

From Peter Meilaender’s opening essay, “Against the Integrated Life” (page 4): “Any theory that culminates in the suggestion that I would be a morally better person if only I raised my own chickens, or that a society of chicken-raisers would be a morally better society, has taken a wrong turn somewhere.”

From John M Ballenger’s poem, “Stitched Mouth Prayer” (page 13): “How long, O Lord, / can a boy fall? How many times / does his face need to hit / that metal bumper?”

From H. David Baer’s column, “The Return of the Tyrants and the Price of Democracy” (page 26): “Today…the mini-dictators who would destroy democracy resemble not so much the totalitarians of the twentieth century, but rather the self-aggrandizing tyrants of ancient Greece.”

From Daniel Silliman’s remembrance of Tom Wolfe (page 31): “When I read Wolfe, I felt like I was suddenly free from every rule, every convention, every ‘right way’ of doing things. But more importantly, I felt like I knew what that freedom was for.”

From Josh Langhoff’s column on the resurgence of interest in the music of Julius Eastman (page 35), a quote from composer Frank Ferko: “I think I (erroneously) considered the Julius concert ‘just another concert’ in a long line of music events at Northwestern.”

From Nicholas Denysenko’s review of  Michael Plekon’s Uncommon Prayer (page 39): “Prayer is not so much words, but a process wherein the person becomes prayer through all of life’s activities.”

From Martha Greene Eads’ “Steal Away to Jesus” (page 55): “I thank my Lord for that great-hearted hostess, who opened her home to wet and dirty strangers, who gave them her best and bore more loss than she had planned.”

Throughout the production of this issue, each of these lines as sparkled up to me, allowing me think or feel something unexpected or clarifying. I marvel at the scope of our contributors’ insights and knowledge—and I would love to hear from you about what in this issue catches your eye or heart or mind. I am confident that something will. 



Celebrating Our Best


In April the Associated Church Press recognized three of our contributors with “Best of the Church Press” Awards:

Matthew L. Becker, Award of Excellence for Theological or Scholarly Article for “Christ in the University: Edmund Schlinck’s Vision” (Easter 2017)

Rebekah Curtis, Award of Excellence for Personal Experience/First-Person Account (short format) in a magazine or journal for “The Tree Killers” (Advent-Christmas 2017)

Thomas C. Willadsen, Honorable Mention for Written Humor for “Al Spangler,” (Trinity 2017)

The Cresset also received an Honorable Mention in the “Best in Class” category for journals. You can read all of these award-winning pieces on our website, thecresset.org.

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