Essays by John Musselman
Find out what gave you the emotion, what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it so clear that… it can become a part of the experience of the person who reads it. – Ernest Hemingway
I first learned that I had an appreciation for words when I studied Latin at fifteen, read Milton’s Paradise Lost at eighteen, and began my study of Greek in the fall of 1968. Encouraged to read in our home as a child, I soon felt the excitement of learning about the world of baseball from a biography of Lou Gehrig, about the steel industry from reading Andrew Carnegie, and about how it feels to vicariously experience danger and tenseness as I digested all the Hardy Boy mystery books I could find.
From those small beginnings, God brought many people across my path who nurtured my interest in words, ideas, and books, and kindly guided me into an ever broader view of God’s world and the words that were used to described it. Of note is Dr. Gerhard van Groningen, the late Old Testament scholar who instructed me in biblical theology and mentored me for over forty years. On a sidewalk on our seminary campus one Friday afternoon, he helped me see how narrow my world had become and pointed me to an expansive view of reading, traveling, listening, seeing, feeling, and thinking that would prove to be one of the great turning points in my life. I would never see the world in the same way again. Every book became a portal through which I entered into the fascinating worlds created by its author; every experience, an opportunity to see God’s “invisible hand” (R.C. Sproul) guiding me through life to observe beauty, goodness, and truth in his created order.
Pulitzer Prize winner, author Eudora Welty (1909-2001) captured her own journey of writing in her acclaimed book, One Writer’s Beginnings: “Writing a story or a novel is one way of discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the happenings of a writer’s own life. This has been the case with me. Connections slowly emerge. Like distant landmarks you are approaching, cause and effect begin to align themselves, draw closer together. Experiences too indefinite of outline in themselves to be recognized for themselves connect and are identified as a larger shape. And suddenly a light is thrown back, as when your train makes a curve, showing that there has been a mountain of meaning rising behind you on the way you’ve come, is rising still, proven now through retrospect” (One Writer’s Beginnings, p. 90).
As my “train makes a curve,” I am grateful to glance behind me to the “mountain of meaning” rising in my past. Many of you have introduced me to the great books and ideas that have shaped my life, altered my worldview, drawn me closer to the only true God, and allowed me to experience the depths of what it means to be human. I am indebted to you in ways that words could never express.
The following essays are a sample of the reflections and observations about some of the things that are important to me. As Hemingway suggested, perhaps, in some small way, they can become a part of your own experience.
ESSAYS BY JOHN MUSSELMAN
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