with my wife in Antigua, Guatemala (2017)

Hello, I’m Caleb. I teach secondary English in Kansas City, and I have graduate degrees in both English and religion.

I met my wife in 2016 while teaching in El Salvador. She is my best friend, and we love our life together. We have a daughter who was born in December, 2020, and love the beautiful, chaotic reality of being parents. We also have the privilege of a multicultural home, celebrating both Salvadoran and estadounidense (United States-ian) roots, wading through the joys and trials of raising a child bilingual in Spanish and English.

What to find here

Though I have been writing for a long time, I still consider myself to be developing. Of course, even the best writers would say they’re always developing and honing their craft, but for me, I’m still in the stages of really discovering my voice as well as my literary niche. Nevertheless, in this site I share some of published work.

I also write blog posts from time to time, usually ruminating on some life event or cultural experience (art, literature, travel, etc.). Hopefully you can resonate with or at least thoughtfully mull over some of the ideas.

Common themes in my writing

I try to live intentionally, “deliberately,” as Thoreau puts it, and, like Thoreau, often draw my greatest inspiration from the natural world. I’m also moved by religious imagery. I guess I could say that I’m a bit obsessed with binary tensions like reality/unreality (or reality/appearance), eternal/temporal, transcendent/immanent, spiritual/material, mystery/certainty, pilgrimage/regionalism. Of course, these binaries have a lot of overlap, so writers and artists must often sit in that gap and create from inside that tension. The natural world and other types of sacred or holy spaces, then, have always been environments where I feel that I can wrestle with these themes. Practicing the disciplines of silence and solitude (a much more regulated act now as a husband and father) have brought me the closest to moments of religious ecstasy.

My religious background

I come out of the Christian Evangelical tradition, but I’ve been distancing myself from the term evangelical due to its association with American nationalism, (white) Eurocentrism, and staunch Right Wing politics. The increasingly fundamentalist political dimension is a vision I cannot buy into.

I still identify with the orthodox Christian faith, so that worldview clearly presents itself in my writing. But I believe that the best religious writing struggles with belief, is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with ideas that challenge assumptions on meaningful issues (social, theological, philosophical, moral, etc.). It is thoughtful, reflective, humble (open to being wrong), critical.

Furthermore, I greatly admire and respect people who practice another religion, or no religion. I am intrigued by devotion in its various forms and often learn from others.

Why “a great, real place”?

The inspiration for this blog title comes from the following passage:

“Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet.”

C.S. Lewis, Til We Have Faces

I think the title of this site functions on multiple levels. It is a “place” or space for writing and reflecting. “Real” suggests a contrast to something banal or superficial. But of course, on the deepest level, as I’ve mentioned above, I am anchored in the Christian eschatological vision of a new heaven and new earth, a world in which “wrong will be right.” Finally, death (from the quote) can also be interpreted figuratively. We often find life to be a sequence of little deaths; the old must pass away for renewal to begin. I’d like to think that this site addresses all these potential meanings.