Friday, August 22, 2014

Lifework: Paul Martin

My Story

A spontaneous mystical experience changed my life overnight at the age of twenty-three. After earning a master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School and another in counseling from the University of New Hampshire came the sudden onset of what would turn out to be a rare, incurable and progressive disease.

As I update this post in May of 2015 I’m approaching my twenty-first year of illness. For the past decade I’ve been completely housebound, and during the past several years I’ve become mostly bedridden as well.

Published articles and poetry

“Revelation In The Whirlwind of Existence,” article with poem, NPR’s On Being website 7/27/2014

“Salmon Song,” poem, Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality fall 2013

“On Being More Than Ourselves Alone,” article and two poems adapted from an unpublished book manuscript, NPR’s On Being website 3/22/2013

“Being Still,” poem, The Mennonite 8/2/2010

One of my early poems from the 1980s was published in Crosscurrents in the fall of1993, shortly before illness onset; however, I don't find a link for this issue. Extensive medical travel, research and treatment efforts subsequently kept me from writing for the better part of a decade.

Overview of unpublished book manuscripts

Introductory Note

Two of my manuscripts have forewords by Princeton's Elaine Pagels and one has a concluding autobiographical chapter added at the suggestion of Hal Taussig, visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary and author of A New New Testament. My work has also been endorsed by Rebecca Alpert of Temple University and the late Anne Carr of the University of Chicago.

The faith I experience and describe is truly existential—not the Kierkegaardian leap of faith, which is actually a leap to belief, but a reality already there for us to notice and accept. It’s an approach to faith and the transcendence of ego that I feel has the potential to enrich the faith of believers and open up a path to faith for nonbelievers. Despite my endorsements, with no marketing platform or physical ability to obtain one, my manuscripts remain unread by publishers.


Here’s an overview of my manuscripts using brief, alternative titles. I still hope to reserve the actual titles and subtitles for a publisher.

Love’s Hopeful Word (70,000 words): Faith is an articulation of love—an expression of who we are and not just what we believe.

Hope Without Belief (34,000): The same essential message addressed to nonbelievers, this one steers clear of language from the religion and spirituality lexicon since that can be an obstacle for this audience.

Fast Train (66,000): Poetry thematically integrated with essays, this book constitutes an extended meditation on suffering, mortality and life’s little joys, which are actually great things.

A Writing Life (85,000 words): This manuscript began as an account of my own writing process with some general reflections on creativity, including how it unfolds in relation to adversity. As I wrote I found that my creative process and my life have been so intertwined that the book became an autobiography of my writing life.

I’ve deeply enjoyed writing along with my overall experience of life. My hope is that this joy can be shared with others through the books I’ve written.

For further information contact martin19081 at .