Monday, August 30, 2021

Walter Wangerin Jr.*

Walter Wangerin Jr. (1944―2021) is the author of more than 40 books, and served as a Lutheran pastor, and as a professor at Evansville University and later at Valparaiso University ― both in Indiana. His novel Book of the Dun Cow (1978) rocketed him into the spotlight, enabling him to write a wide variety of books across his career.

He has participated as a member of the Chrysostom Society, which includes (or included at various points) such fine writers as Madeleine L’Engle, Luci Shaw, Robert Siegel, John Leax, Doris Betts, Paul Willis, Jeanne Murray Walker, Eugene Peterson and Philip Yancey.

Yancey said in an August 9th memorial piece for Christianity Today, “As both a sermonizer and an artist, with graduate degrees in theology and English, Walt lived with the constant tension of how best to express themes of grace and the Cross. As a pastor, he found that story conveys truth most effectively and profoundly.”

Walter Wangerin Jr. lived with cancer for more than fifteen years, before dying on August 5th 2021. The following poem is from his collection On an Age-Old Anvil (Cascade Books, 2018).


The wild geese lace the sky
flying north,
flying to the arctic
to lay and brood
the egg of creation.

The ancient Irishman
laying windrows with his scythe
looks up with a blue, rheumy eye.
He drops the cutting blade
and raises reverential hands.

Once it was a Dove,
the Holy Ghost descending.
Now it is the wild goose

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Walter Wangerin Jr.: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock.