Sunday, November 26, 2006


Three Writing Heroes

There are certain talents I really admire. Being able to speak a foreign language is like a magic trick to me, and I'm in awe of those who can; I'm also very impressed by those who can sing. Sing to me in French and I'll just follow you around for a while with my mouth open. Another talent I really appreciate, and count on, is the ability to impart information I need while keeping it as simple as possible and interesting. Today I want to recognize three people whose writing fits this description, and whose work I read regularly. They are also three people I admire for the choices they have made in their life, which makes it even easier to like.

1) Brad Bogan, Fifth Circuit Blog

Brad was my student a few years ago, and I remember him well. He may not have been the flashiest performer to come through Practice Court, but in criminal classes he had a remarkable focus, a passion for the material, and an ability to articulate a position few others in the class would take. After school, he took a job as a brief-writer with the Federal Defender's office in Del Rio. As I have traveled the Western District doing CLE's, defenders in other offices always know of Brad and speak well of his work. That always makes me feel a little swell of pride.

Typical of him, Brad took the initiative to maintain the Fifth Circuit blog, which I rely on to keep up to date with the criminal rulings here. His writing is succinct, honest, and clear, which is exactly what I want.

2) Bob Darden, Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples

"Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples" is just the most recent of some 900 books it seems like Bob Darden has written, but it is the one that has meant the most to me. He breaks down the stories of the Bible in a very accessible way, and as a Christian with no theological training it really speaks to me. His previous book, "People Get Ready," is a definitive description of gospel music in America, and he has led the way in trying to preserve the recordings of this music.

Bob is also my extremely talented Sunday school teacher at 7th & James Baptist Church. We have an amazing class, and it is a highlight of the week. In that group of 5-9 (usually including a linguist, an Old Testament scholar, Bob, an archaologist, and a mathemetician) I have found more spiritual growth than anywhere else in my life. I am profoundly grateful for that.

3) Carl Hoover, Waco Tribune-Herald

Carl Hoover is my favorite writer in the local paper. He has an engaging, light touch with cultural and religious issues, while still bringing meaning to the surface. That must be an extremely hard task, because very few people can do it well. I often read a story in the paper, think to myself that it is really good, and only then notice his byline.

Carl is one of those people whom I peek at as corners of his life are exposed, and they all show a man with a wonderful balance in his life. I hear him in the church choir, I see him with his children, I make a point to attend if he is speaking at church, and sometimes I even eavesdrop on his conversations with others (I'm like that). In all these things, I see something to emulate.

I never see my heroes on television, but perhaps that is one reason they are my heroes.

I second the Bob Darden recommendation. I took him for a film class in undergrad and found him one of the most engaging profs I've ever taken as well as one w/ the most ecclectic interests and expertises (sp?) I've come across.
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