Memoir Excerpts

Down in Joe Brown's coal mine

joe brown sr.In researching my book The Sword of the Lord, I learned that my great-great-great grandfather was a man named Dangerfield Rice, a poor Tennessee farmer who moved to Missouri in 1820 and to become a wealthy owner of a hemp plantation and the many slaves who worked the land. 

This I believe

soldiers huggingIn 2005 I produced a documentary film, Voices in Wartime, that uses poetry to explore the trauma of war, and over the past few years I have spent many hours talking to people about their experience of war. I’ve talked to classrooms full of students, and I’ve hosted community dialogues on war and trauma, and I’ve facilitated audience discussions after screenings of films about war.

James Corder on the Subway in NYC

James CorderIn the summer of 1973, I was the director of the Selma Inter-religious Project in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Selma Project was a support organization for civil rights activists working in small towns located in the rural Black Belt across central and southern Alabama, southern Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle.

How I became Pop

When I found that I was about to become a father in 1977, I embraced fatherhood. I read books about babies, mothers and fathers, and I attended a series of Lamaze classes with my wife designed to help me be an active and equal partner in the process. When Chris started having contractions on September 3, 1977, I was there with her throughout the twelve hours of labor.

Jan McColaugh's AH-OO-GAH cane

Jan McColaugh In the early 1990s, I worked at Microsoft with a woman named Jan who had a gift for remembering silly jokes and making people laugh when they were trying very hard to be serious and business-like. Jan was also my mentor as I became a manager of people and teams.

Bradford Molsen, where are you?

MSFT internet magazine archiveI can play the clip in my head any time I want. The sun shines brightly on a clear, crisp day in November 1961. I am coming in off the playground with my sixth-grade class at Holmes School in Wheaton, Illinois. The boys are horsing around, jockeying for position in line, cutting up. We’ve just come up a slight, grassy incline onto the hard, cracked asphalt.

Popcorn and Baseball

Mr. Parks was an old man who lived with his sister in a big yellow house next door to us on College Avenue in Wheaton, Illinois. On frequent summer nights beginning when I was eight years old, Mr.

So Little Time


My granddad was a prolific gospel songwriter,  producing scores of songs and publishing them in two volumes of revival songs. He never took a piano lesson, but composed by sitting at the big black grand piano in the living room and plunking out a simple melody and harmony with two fingers. Often his baritone voice would be accompanied by the silken yowls of his collie, Flicka.


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