Dear Beloved Readers,
I am fully aware that, if you put my name into Google, you will find quite a breadth of resources and links and articles and posts–over hundreds of different territories–about my life, including my work in agenting as well as my work in different contexts.
There is nothing that I desire to hide about any of it, even if some of it may require being put into context–especially given that we come to understand those things we do, and the ways in which we engage in them, in our own way. For me, my understanding of everything that I do has been shaped infinitely by a fundamental commitment to unconditional love, a radical preference for the other, and a radical preference for self-sacrifice.
One post that you might stumble upon in your research is this one, for a project that I designed and taught, this past April, at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. The project was called “The Person Project,” and it was styled after my undergrad degree.
I spoke about it to an agent friend of mine at a conference earlier this spring, and wanted to put this out there, so that there’s context to what I have done, who I am, and the disposition that I bring to the work I’m doing in book publishing today.
This is not an evangelical post, if we understand ‘evangelical’ to mean an imposition upon you of some kind of principle, or a movement toward an ideology. I define ‘ideology’ here as some kind of disproportionate or self-selected vision of the world, one that doesn’t fully correspond with the way and rules by which it’s structured, and in which it operates and unfolds; in other words, the adapting of some kind of a premise or truth that doesn’t actually show up in the world unless we imagine it, or force it to be there, because we want it to be.
I also think ideology arises when people aren’t honest about the content of their own experience, and those dimensions of experience that could be integrated, healed, or directed to a different end or content. For example, if you have anxiety, why not this question: Is anxiety all there is? And that’s it.
That’s all I do. I ask hard questions, and I look for answers that fit.
My work, therefore, is not evangelical work, if understood in the way above. Whether you profess a faith or not, whether you profess mine or not, I love you, and I respect you, and I appreciate your experience, and I want to know you and to understand you; to know you and understand your experience. If you don’t make sense, though, then you and I will have a bit of a pickle–and I’ll ask more hard questions; I prefer thought that fits, and thought that coheres what it itself professes, especially on the non-fiction end.
There is no writer, no agent, no editor, no publisher, or otherwise in this business who should be afraid that I would impose upon you a reality that you yourself have not chosen.
Ultimately, therefore, this is a post that is designed to prompt questions–and to share some new ideas–not with the intent of imposing, or ‘converting’; it is certainly not a post designed to judge, discriminate, or to condemn, because in this heart of mine there is no movement of this kind and never has been. It is a heart that loves your experience as it is, and is prompted only to ask, Can there be more? Do you have everything that you need and desire? Have you ever tried this experience, and is the pursuit of a new kind of experience something that might change your life forevermore? It might be worth it.
I was raised Catholic, by Polish Catholic parents; Poland is a country deeply Catholic at heart, and so it was a deeply cultural reality (in addition to being a deeply theological one), with Poland’s different political, social, and cultural movements informed by its profession of faith in a god: God, the Other, a trinity/unity of three persons, ‘person’ understood as a ‘phenomenon of relativity.’ In other words, to be person is to stand in relationship; to have relationship as something at the core of your very being, and that this relationship is a necessity for you and your life.
When I was an undergraduate in college, I had the privilege of taking an independent study course on the human person, from the perspective of the Catholic Church. Prior to then, I–despite being Catholic–did not know that there was a huge trajectory of philosophical, theological, and psychological content that underlies this understanding of the human person and human life, as well as the Church’s understanding of human potential.
To be a saint, as the Church understands it, is to love much. I fell in love with this concept, and to this day remain utterly fascinated with it: I want to love much. I want to love you, and to love you much. My heart is that you be fully provided for, and that I be present fully to you. I want to not come to you with any preconceived notion of who you are, or how or why you are the way you are; I want to be able to ask questions, and not offend you, and promise a lack of offense about any kind of question which you yourself might want to pose me.
I want to make sure that you are healthy, and integrated and whole, and happy. I want to make sure that you are spontaneous, and that nothing binds you, impairs you, or imprisons you; I want to see you free of guilt and shame, which are two realities inside of us that bind, impair, and imprison us, among others.
I, as I mention in my bio, reject any and all discrimination; I also reject any and all ideas that are proposed without a deep, thorough examination of their rationality and their consequence upon the person, with his/her experience.
Knowing that there are contentious questions that are always prompted, I will say simply this: When it comes to questions of trauma; sexuality and gender; abortion, euthanasia, etc.; and otherwise, I am beyond persuaded that persons’ experiences of these items and the related actions they take are so complex, and diverse, that there is no easy way to articulate their ‘structure’ universally (from where this action comes, how it’s taken, the degree to which one is conscious of it and a volitional participant in it). The structure of the experience in context of any of the specific actions taken is vital to determining the ethical value of that action, taken on behalf of any individual person.
Pre-requisite to any action is the inherent goodness of our person (which takes a particular kind of experience to fully know, and to internalize–modern psychology gives us this evidence, showing that without affection and tenderness, human beings wither), and I would agree with the fundamental position of Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, who argued that we become who we are as ethical agents through the choices we make/actions we take. We make ourselves, in some sense, who and what we are. If, then, there is any reason to think that any of the actions related to the phenomena above decrease love, integrity, unity, and a healthy, spontaneous participation in relationship, I would say there is grounds, right there, to start asking hard questions.
Over the years, I’ve done my research–across dozens of different religions, different experiences, different ways of experiencing reality, of different positions on the nature of ‘virtue’ (which I have come to understand as nothing more fundamental or interesting or difficult than actions that create and maintain in us the experience of unity), of different positions on ethical questions and issues, and more, and I’ve come to a place in which, tested by intellect/reason and experience and choice, I have come to personally prefer a whole series of positions on these questions, and I wanted to share them with you.
I trust you to respect me for these positions, if you were to consider them. I consider every position that comes my way, ask where it comes from, and “mind model” it into a logic model, as best I can.
I prefer them because I have tested them by experience, and they have crystallized my mind–I have experienced a greater clarity over my mind, my choices, my commitments, my friendships; they have taken away fear; they have prompted and opened me to generosity and love, in a freedom and a self-possession that I did not know was possible.
Here’s the PDF with resources.
All of the content within the PDF is mine, unless otherwise noted (in other words, the overview/outline, the annotations, and the overview of the resources are all written by me; the excerpts from Attachments, the spiritual theology manual, and the Heart of the Father ministry resources were generated by those cited). It was a project I launched in a former workplace, but never completed there, given that its design and implementation was rooted in my own degree and experience; I now house it on my own.
Read the PDF this way:
+ In the outline for the content, which I taught from memory, you’ll find this: The Church teaches that there is a structure to all things, and a cause for all things. All things come to be because of something else, and thus we are and become causes for things we bring into existence–including our books.
+ In the excerpt from the book on attachments, you’ll find this: The degree to which we have been loved informs the degree to which we have an easy time being in relationship with other human beings, and the degree to which we have an easy time in relationship informs the degree to which we have an easy time in romantic relationships and marriage, especially.
The degree to which we have an easy time in these relationships is the degree to which we have an easy time raising our kids, and if we cause things, then the way we are as parents informs the way we create/form/shape our children. I owe my love of my life to my mother and my father, and my mother in a special way, given her radical and heroic peace during years of ovarian cancer; she testified that a peace that surpasses understanding was possible, and I have sought it and love it and know it and prefer it.
+ In the account of ‘sin’ from the spiritual theology manual (which can sound like it’s judgmental and condemning, when at its foundation, it is a reflection on a spectrum of different kinds of experiences as understood by saints of the Church), you’ll find this: The promise of an experience of deep prayer that is formative and creative, received and deepened over time; a form of prayer that leaves an impact. I know this kind of prayer by experience.
+ In the account of different lies or forms of spiritual bondage (which can sound a bit dramatic, but is not, if you know people who are deeply wounded–and/or if, in thinking about it, you acknowledge that you have had or even now have something of this interior experience), you’ll find this: An account of people’s experiences, this way understood; these kinds of experiences manifested, in some kind of bondage, or denial, or pain, or otherwise, about which the Church would say, to your heart and mind, This is not everything there is; there is more, and you can be free.
+ In the booklist, you’ll find this: An account of my own understanding of reality, in simplified form, which has proven true to my intellect/reason, to my will and the choices I have made, and to my entire life, with all its experience and its desire for integrity, because integrity gives me peace, makes me happy, perfects love, and gives me an energy that is unceasing–I love the life I have led, and I have lived it with no regrets.
+ In the resources, you’ll find this: A list of resources for different kinds of healing; know that some of these ministries are contingent upon what Christians may call the charismatic or spiritual gifts. This offers an interesting set of experiential testimonies; I know the fruitfulness by experience, also.
I don’t need you to ‘convert.’ I just ask that, if you have some free time, you take a look at some of the books. I love The Religious Sense, and I love Theology and Sanity, and I love I Want to See God and I Am a Daughter of the Church, and you might just be surprised to find something much more intelligent, and clever, and broadly-minded in Catholicism than you might expect.
Note also that I offer this as a post to any of you who have been damaged by the ideology that persons who profess a faith, be it Catholic or not, sometimes create and induce in the lives of human people; they say they believe, but they do not, and they say that they love, but they do not, and they say that they will be unconditional before you, but they are not. They dismiss testimonies of experience, and they dismiss their own experience; they dismiss their own limitations. I would go so far as to say that deep prayer, over years, imprints in me the experience of total, actual, easy unconditionality, and the lack of any kind of emotional or other trigger before others.
“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979)
Fiction, of every kind, has opened my entire life to each of you–to the life and imagination of my clients, and to my favorite authors, and to authors whom I have a hard time internalizing, all at the same time–and so while I partake in fiction, also, I offer here this more extended list of non-fiction loved and internalized over the years, to add to that list of non-fiction for which I am seeking actively: anything that starts a conversation, and anything that really challenges you, as everything that I have ever read and preferred has challenged me.
With all my love,
P.S. This is partially inspired by the work of Rachel Wahl, PhD, on receptive learning during political crisis:
Drawing on Charles Taylor’s conception of the primacy of moral identity and his assertion that ideals can be best understood through the study of how people enact them, Wahl argues here that some aspects of the secular liberal imaginary can hinder noninstrumental engagement, but that such engagement may be precisely what is needed to bridge the deepest divides.
P.P.S. I also would encourage reading something like Love Thy Neighbour (Convergent/Penguin Random House, 2019), a beautiful testimony from a Muslim medical doctor about his own profession of faith, in small-town MN. Derek, its editor, recommended it to me weeks ago, over coffee, as a testimony worth hearing.