A Bit About Me

A Benedictine monk in the Episcopal Church who writes fantasy fiction? How did that happen? The short answer is: God knows. As for myself, all I can say that the fantastical has always fascinated me and matters of faith have always been a consuming interest. The first two books to have my name written in them were that tales of Hans Christian Andersen and Grimm’s fairy tales. I started writing fantasy stories as a child and I haven’t stopped since. My religious journey took many twists and turns during my youth, including detours in Hinduism and Buddhism, although I consistently believed that religion dealt with the most important things in life. This journey led me back to the Episcopal Church in which I was raised and then to St. Gregory’s Abbey in Three Rivers, Michigan.

Another interest that caught me and has never let me go is music. Singing in a high quality church choir as a boy introduced me to great choral masterpieces and music has been woven with my religious interests ever since. These days, I sing plainsong in the monastic church and listen to music of all kinds in my spare time. Along with my religious convictions, music is a major strand in many of my stories.

Another swirl running through all of these major interests is a concern for peace and for alternatives to violence. In my stories and other writings, seeking peace within oneself and, more important, within social relationships, has become one of the major themes I deal with. Tools for Peace engages in a dialogue between the Rule of St. Benedict and the thought inspired by René Girard, a thinker preoccupied with the social dimensions of violence while my stories take the reader through enchanted but sometimes troubling pathways in search of visions of peace.

I suppose I could sum up my outlook in life as: Saint Benedict in Fairyland. In their various ways, St. Benedict and fairy tales combine an earnest moral and spiritual drive with a delight in God’s goodness. For me, monastic discipline and the freedom of the fantastical imagination reinforce each other. Both my religious writings and my stories witness to my conviction that, contrary to the violence humans perpetrate, God has created a friendly universe grounded in God’s love for all of us.

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6 thoughts on “A Bit About Me

  1. Why are you and the Abbey you represent Episcopal? Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox seem to offer the fullness of Christian Monasticism.
    Your comments willl be appreciated.

    • I think every Christian adds to the fullness of Christianity. The same applies to monasticism. The Roman Catholic Benedictines know me and my community and they treat us as brothers living under the Rule of St. Benedict.

  2. Father Marr. I loved your new book. I believe in mimetic theory but how does that affect literal belief in angels and demons? Girard might think it isn’t necessary. What are your thoughts and how does it impact mimetic theory (if people aren’t totally responsible for violence)? Thank you, Chris Burke

    • Dear Chris,

      Mimetic theory does give an alternate explanation for phenomena such as spirit possession. As far as I know, Girard himself thought demonic interference was ruled out. Girard’s colleague, Jean-Michel Oughourlian, a psychoanalyst, explains at length how people are possessed by the desires of other people in his book “The Puppet of Desire.” I find their arguments compelling but I personally would systematically rule out angels and demons. It is instructive, though, that the mythology of demons in their fall, with Lucifer, from heaven, is the same story of mimetic rivalry as analyzed in humans in mimetic theory. The guardian angels, whom we just celebrated, are models of beings possessed by God’s Desire for the well-being of all humans.

      • Father Marr, I feel honored that you replied to my question (Sorry, I’m not on Facebook). I have been studying mimetic theory for a few years: reading Rene Girard, James Alison, Michael Hardin… I agree with your answer about angels but I guess we can’t know for sure. Peter Kreeft has interesting comments about them–I think they were important to Aquinas. Anyway, I would like to rest in God’s desire, whatever that is. I am 56 and I live in Houston. pray for me,

        Chris Burke

  3. Father Marr, It’s me Chris Burke again. I wrote you about God’s Desire a while back. I just finished Tools for Peace and it is worth it’s weight in gold. Too bad the President would probably not be interested in it. Hey, you should be President! Thanks again. Pray for me, Chris Burke

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