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News and Notes 10/18

From Gary Swaim, Perelandra College Professor Emeritus:

I wanted to let you know that I have received my latest publication:  QUIXOTIC NOTIONS.  Approximately 150 pages and is available on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  The book is a collection of both some of my older poetry and some new poetry, along with a variety of my paintings (placed when possible in relationship to one another).  I’m very pleased with it and would love to have you or someone in your cadre of people review it, if possible.  I’m very proud of both its appearance and its substance.

I’m already working on two other books: one with the working title. . .10 IN A BROKEN LINE. . .perhaps with a subtitle, as it will essentially be stories in a creative non-fiction style and historical in nature, all related to fascinating people in my DNA-verified Swaim family line.  It’s intended to cover a very expansive period of time, as I have over 11,500 people in my tree ranging from numerous ggrandfathers who were from the Plantagenet family of kings to my 5th ggrandmother who was a freed slave married to my ggrandfather, a white man, who lived in North Carolina in the mountains away from even small communities, of necessity.  The second book, almost finished is a collection of short stories based on the county where my Father was born in Northeast Texas.  Still staying very busy.


Gary D. Swaim, Ph.D. 
Faculty Advisor, Creative Writing, Southern Methodist University
Minnie Stevens Piper Professor of Excellence for the State of Texas
2011 Texas Senior Poet Laureate
CONFLUENCE, Emeritus Editor-in-Chief
Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, National Office, Duke University


And again, thanks to the generous businesses that sponsored the Perelandra College second annual fundraiser golf shindig.

They are:  Mission Trails Golf Course
Tecolote Canyon Golf Course
Bonita Golf Course
Berry’s Athletic Supply
Sprouts Market
Nandos Taco Shop, 8025 Broadway, Lemon Grove

How about playing a round or buying something from them? Or, if you live far away, send them a thumbs up text message and cc a San Diego friend.

Democrat? Republican?

As some of you are aware, I am considering a run for office in the California legislature. My original intention was to run as an independent. But my daughter Darcy, who has volunteered to manage my campaign, and who is a force in Arizona politics, assured me that winning as an independent simply won’t happen

To which I said, “I’m not going to win anyway.”

And she said, “Why not?”

And I said, “Because I’m an introvert, a writer, not a lawyer, and the winners are extroverts and lawyers.”

“So why run, if you don’t intend to win?”

“Because I feel like it,” I said, rather than alienate my agnostic prospective campaign manager by admitting I believe God had given me an assignment. 

“Then,” she said, “you need to run as a Democrat.”

She’s a Democrat, and the guy I would be facing, a Republican, is trying to convince the people of our district that the idea of making California a sanctuary state should make us tremble.

Having lived forever near the southern border, I have known plenty of Mexicans and immigrants from Mexico both legal and not, and I fear them far less than I fear the wall builders.

So I said, “Okay, Democrat it is.”

My dear friend Mark, an earnest Christian who voted for Trump, agreed to not only vote for me but to work on my behalf. But when he talked to Maggie, his wife, about my candidacy, she asked what party I would belong to, and when he said Democrat, she said “Well I won’t vote for him, and you’d better not work for him either.”

Her reason? Because she had never voted for a Democrat and never would.

Same with Karen, my Methodist mother-in-law.

And with a friend of my friend David. This fellow asked me, “How can a Christian possibly vote for a Democrat?”

Sure, I could have asked in return, “How can a Christian vote for people who don’t appear to give a hoot about anything but holding onto what they have and getting more of it, no matter the cost to others?”

Or I could’ve referred him to Jesus’ Beatitudes or to Isaiah 61. Or to this article entitled And Jesus Said Unto Paul of Ryan. It’s smart and fun.

But I chose not to argue during a golf game.

Anyway, I’m not fond of verbal arguments. Otherwise, I would’ve gone to law school rather than becoming a teacher and writer. Teachers and writers are about thinking and presenting and defending the truth. Lawyers are about arguing.

Which is why I would make a fine legislator but will be mighty surprised if I get elected.

State of the Union

I listened to President Obama’s state of the union address.

A wise old friend of mine split the world into two kinds of people — those of good will, and the others. Mister Obama appears to be a person of good will.

But on every issue, what he addressed was essentially the application of Band Aids.

I mean, every woe he hopes to fix or lessen is a symptom, each of them caused by people acting in their own “interest” rather than in the interests of all.

Ebola would not be nearly such a problem if extreme poverty had been eradicated as it should have been long ago.

Global warming would not be an issue if not for our lust after and addiction to extreme luxury and comfort.

Wars, obviously, would not happen if not for our inability or unwillingness to consider our fellow humans as important as ourselves or our families.

Here is Isaiah, in Verse 61, the prophetic passage Jesus later quoted to introduce himself:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
1. to proclaim good news to the poor.
2. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
3. to proclaim freedom for the captives
4. and release from darkness for the prisoners,
5. to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
6. and the day of vengeance of our God,
7. to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them:
8. a crown of beauty
 instead of ashes,
10. the oil of joy
 instead of mourning,
11. and a garment of praise
 instead of a spirit of despair.

I numbered the challenges for emphasis because I believe we who think of ourselves as Christian writers, or as both writers and Christians, should consider:

If we think writing is our calling, which most of us do; and if we believe that as followers of Christ we should attempt to model our behavior on his, which is what most of us profess; then we ought to base our mission on his, which Isaiah stated clearly and in detail.

Whether or not we’re anointed, as Isaiah claimed to be, is another issue. Still, I’ll suggest that we at least try to live so that if anointing (inspiration) is available, we can grab it and pass it along.

Back to the state of the union: if we who call ourselves Christians had acted in accord with the teachings of Christ, then surely, over 2000 years, we could’ve created a world in which good will would so obviously prevail that there would be little need for Band Aids.

Mahatma Ghandi famously answered a fellow who asked why, since he essentially followed the precepts of Christ, he was not a Christian. His answer was something like, “If I had ever met a Christian (i.e. someone followed the leading of Christ) maybe I would be a Christian.”

Perhaps he hadn’t looked very wide or hard. I mean, even I with my limited experience could point to several true Christ followers. Still, Ghandi’s point is well taken. Most of aren’t likely to be noted for our selfless, sacrificial behavior.

But to quote from a ’60s anthem, “Don’t think it can’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet.” History aside, if as writers we think of ourselves as Christians, shouldn’t our primary goal be to awaken readers to what Christ stood for? And if that’s our goal, I’ll suggest we take our cue from Isaiah.

Which is why I believe in Perelandra College, whose mission is essentially to help people of good will promote good will in others, by (1) cheering them with good news; (2) offering solace to the hopeless and brokenhearted; (3,4) leading those in all kinds of captivity toward freedom; (5,6) giving our readers a glimpse of eternity and comforting them with glorious visions; (8) creating and sharing beauty; (9, 10) presenting the multitude of reasons for joy and gratitude, and in all ways lobbying against despair.

So, let’s get busy.


Cost and Payment options:

The cost of Perelandra College classes is $100 per credit. Most of the classes are given for three credits.

In order to minimize our administrative costs and thereby keep our tuition low, we decline to offer financing. We can, however, allow monthly prepayments, by check or through the Paypal button on our Friends page.

Once a minimum of $50 is paid toward a class, we can send the syllabus so that the student can begin with the reading and writing projects required. Then, once the class is paid for, the student can be well on the way to finishing the class under the mentorship of one of our professors.

Should a prospective student prepay any amount then decide not to enroll, the prepaid amount can be considered a donation, for which we will send a receipt usable for tax deduction purposes.

These options allow students the opportunity to study on their own, guided by our syllabi, for a donation of $50 per class to a most worthy cause.

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