Author Archives: Steven James

Jumping Off the Top Bunk

There’s a Jewish saying, “God created man because he loves stories.” I don’t think that’s the only reason God created the world, but I like the saying. We live multistoried lives and, I believe, he wants to be a part of them every step of the way. After elementary school children return to school after break, teachers will often give them an assignment to write about “what they did over summer vacation.” The papers end up being lists of things that happened: I went to Continue reading →

Hidden Stories

When my grandmother died she left me a box of stamps and letters. At the bottom of the box I found a small photograph of a young Hispanic man. He looked maybe seventeen or eighteen years old, dark-haired, dark-eyed and lonely. Piercingly sad eyes stared at me from the faded, scarred photograph. There was no note, no name. The upper left-hand corner of the photo was torn. At first I was just going to throw it away, but then I looked at it again. He Continue reading →

Who Gives a . . . ?

Last year I went to see the movie A Walk Among the Tombstones, and the trailer for Gone Girl came on. It was a small crowd—just three of us in the theater. So here comes Ben Affleck looking urgent and concerned as an investigation goes on for his missing wife. Cue the music. Flash through climactic moments. Cut to Affleck closing off the trailer by exclaiming, “I did not kill my wife.” And just then, as the trailer is finishing up, the guy behind me Continue reading →

Light and Deep

I believe that a writer should live lightly and deeply: lightly, by not being weighed down too heavily with the trappings of life; and deeply, by diving into each moment and experiencing all the terror and beauty it has to offer. Comfort-zone, shmomfort-zone. We’re called to live on the ragged edge. More than two decades ago when I was a college sophomore in Minnesota, I found myself feeling walled in by the expectations that went with college life: to live a safe, comfortable life and Continue reading →