If you’ve already received and read the latest issue of Irreantum, you’ll want to skip this post. It’s just a shameless Irreantum plug. But if you haven’t read the newest issue of Irreantum yet, I hope this post will encourage you to get your copy and read it cover to cover.
At the risk of sounding a bit self congratulatory, I want to say that this issue of Irreantum is stellar—chock full of interesting writing. The art in the issue—images of abandoned buildings by photographer Brian Atkinson—is also fantastic.
If you haven’t read anything from the issue yet, you can start right now. Below is my editor’s note from it. As you know, in literary journals the editor’s note is that bit at the beginning everybody skips. I’m including it here in the hopes that you’ll skip it and go read other stuff from Irreantum instead. But if you must read the following words, fine. I hope they’ll convince you to read the rest of the issue.
(If you’re not an Irreantum subscriber, you can subscribe here.)
From the Editor
The oldest scar on my body is on my left foot. It’s thin and faded, and it snakes its way from my big toe to my knobby ankle. I got it one fall morning when I was just three years old. My mother was biking me to preschool, and I was riding on the back of her ten-speed in one of those little toddler seats. Somehow, my foot got caught in the spokes, and we crashed to the ground. Mom says my screams that morning were shocking—quick, gravelly, and surprisingly loud. She scooped me up, and that’s when she saw my tennis shoe, ripped open on one side and blood pouring out.
That was thirty-four years ago. Today, I can’t remember this wreck. What I do know of it comes from Mom—borrowed thoughts. Still, the scar is there. It’s faded and skinny, just a tiny white string stuck to my skin.
I have other scars, too. There’s the inch-long scar on my left index finger. I got it in 1994 while trying unsuccessfully to saw up a woodpile. And there’s a barely noticeable scar on my forehead. I got it when I walked face first into the corner of my office door in 2003. Thankfully, it blends right into my natural forehead creases.
There’s a large round scar in the middle of my chest. When I was a senior in high school, I went for a late-night run, and two miles from home—away from the lights of Riverton, Utah—it grew so dark that I didn’t notice the road sign right in front of me. I clanged into it and gashed myself wide open. That scar’s faded now, but for years it swelled and puffed and shined bright red and looked embarrassingly like a weird third nipple. Thank heaven for chest hair.
Of course, those aren’t all my scars. If I stood in front of a mirror and took my time about it, I’m sure I could find plenty more—fat ones on my knees, faded ones on my elbows, a long forgotten one on my shoulder, a chicken pox scar on my neck. And don’t even get me started on emotional scars. You’ll be here all day.
So, yes. I am scarred. Banged up. Ripped open. Gashed. Chances are, you are too.
And, in my mind, that’s a big deal.
Ask a group of children sometime to tell you about their scars, and you’ll see what I mean. Even the most hyperactive of children will stand in line for hours just to tell you about his scars. You’ll hear about the exact numbers of stitches, the date and time of the injury, the black look in the eyes of the dog that caused it, and the flavor of the lollipops the chubby nurse was handing out in the emergency room. Pant legs will be lifted. Shirt sleeves will be rolled.
Stories emerge. Poems arise. Tiny philosophers compose lyrical essays. Quite suddenly, children who don’t even know how to read will be speaking in narratives, offering cautionary tales, waxing comic, exploring ambiguity.
Is this where literature comes from? Could it be that every work of art is really just the manifestation of a scar?
After all, it seems to me that scars prove two things:
First, scars prove that we’ve been wounded. They reveal our weaknesses, our follies, our humanity, and they stand as a testament of the chance encounters we’ve had with pain. Doesn’t literature do the same thing?
Second, scars prove that we’ve healed. Whatever wounds we have borne, as we look at our bodies each day, those scars are evidence that time does heal. Doesn’t literature do this also?
In this issue of Irreantum, you’re going to explore a few scars. You’ll see the wounds of loneliness, of loss, and of so much more. And yet, at the same time, you’re going to read about how those wounds have healed—how they’ve crusted over and flaked away.
One day, Christ will come again, and when He does, He will stand before us and bear His scars. He will show us His hands and His feet. He will open His robe and reveal His pierced side.
When He does, I think there will be only one way to respond. We will stand, lift our pant legs, roll our sleeves, and show Him ours. Until then, we have these stories, these poems, these essays—testaments of the scars we bear, evidence of the healing we believe in.
Well, there you have it. The editor’s note. If you’re still reading this, that probably makes you the seventh person in history to read an editor’s note all the way through. Or maybe the sixth. I hope it whet your whistle and made you a bit hungry for good Mormon writing.
And good Mormon writing is definitely out there. In Irreantum. Go get it.