Paradox and Astonishment – Jean-Luc Marion quote

Some opening lines to ponder of a new book I (Kirk) am starting:

“In itself, perspective exercises a paradox…The paradox attests to the visible, while at the same time opposing itself, or rather while inverting itself; literally, it constitutes a counter-visible, a counter-seen, a counter-appearance that offers in a spectacle to be seen the opposite of what, at first sight, one would expect to see. More than a surprising opinion, the paradox often points to a miracle – it makes visible that which one should not be able to see and which one is not able to see without astonishment.”

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Poem – a way to name and remember

I‘ve been reading a book called An Unexpected Light by a friend, Dave Mahan. It’s about poetry’s ability to recall, challenge and change things—specifically in the Christian concept of ‘witness’. I came across this quote where Dave is summarizing the thoughts of theologian Paul Riceour:

poetic discourse’s advantage…is its capacity to ‘redescribe reality'[1]”.

The Philosophy of Paul Riceour
I like that. This echoes another quote I have heard attributed to poet Robert Frost—”Poetry is a way to remember what we would be impoverished to forget”. Poetry does that for me, and I think it does that for the average human being—helps us communicate differently in order to grow in understanding.

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Kirk’s eye


“…it’s not everyone God can trust with trouble…”

…words a friend sent to me days after my eye surgery. He had just shared some of his own recent health obstacles with me via our internet chat and we both were thankful that God was present even in adversity. I recalled Job’s words to his wife who attempted to persuade him to curse God and give up – Job replied, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

Up until early Saturday morning, I still had my own left eye. It hadn’t worked all that well since I was a kid, but still looked normal except for the last couple of years.

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The first one without…

Reading the Susquehanna Covered Bridge historical marker

Reading the Susquehanna Covered Bridge historical marker together

Today is Father’s Day. The first one I will spend without my earthly father. No call today to hear that deep solemn yet cheerful voice and to find out the latest ins and outs of his life. Instead I will call my mother, brother, and sister and remember.

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Happy Birthday, Billy!

I first became aware of Mr. Collins’ work from an NYU student I worked with named Daniel. I brought my love of Billy Collins’ work with me into my marriage, and Sarah and I have enjoyed his turn of a phrase ever since. Today is Billy Collins’ birthday.

Happy Birthday, Billy!

Some passages found…

I have of late been trying to be more consistent with a reflection and writing time in the mornings. I start with a theological book – at the moment Malcolm Guite’s “Faith, Hope and Poetry”. Then maybe some poetry – Wendell Berry’s “Collected Poems” – a friend recently observed that I had Berry’s book in my bag when I met him seven years ago – that might be true. Finally, I turn to the Bible after getting my mind charged up with others work. After my readings, I write for a short time whatever comes to my mind. In the scripture, I am currently reading through Ezekiel. In chapter 33, Ezekiel is charged by God to be a watchman. In that spirit, I thought I might share a few passages I read that challenged and inspired me.

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The immanence and transcendence of food and relationship

This is an essay based on an introductory talk Kirk gave at A Place at the Table: Creativity in Food and Togetherness on January 18th 2013. This has been edited from the audio version (which will be made available as soon as it has been properly prepared for posting).

Postcards and pins on registration table

I remember in the days following 9/11 when I lived in Manhattan there was a desire to seek out some level of personal and communal healing. The arts group I was a part of sought that out in Tribeca—a half a dozen blocks from Ground Zero. We began to meet weekly in a bakery behind Robert De Niro’s “Tribeca Grill” called the “Tribakery”—we named our group “The Tribakery Group” in honor of that place. We met there for many reasons. One, was for communal healing through friendship and conversation. Two, was to stir our creative juices together as artists, and three we wanted to bring our meager “art income” earnings down to one of the neighborhoods hit hard economically after the attack. That being said, the unstated but very evident reason we met at Tribakery was the great baked goods and variety of strong coffees that we would consume every week. We knew the food and drink would be good because they resourced Mr. De Niro’s grill right next door. I was never disappointed…they had great coffee and croissants. These seemingly minor starches and hot liquids sped our healing, enhanced the creative juices, and satisfied the investment of our monies.

This same group influenced a few visiting college students who later started the Friday Arts Project (FAP) at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

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God and Revelation | Kirk Irwin

From the Series: Theology & the Arts

Kirk presented these ideas on theology and the arts to the college students and staff who participated in the Tribeca Arts Summer Project 2012* in New York City.

Arts Advocate & theologian


* Kirk & Sarah directed this event. You can read more about it in our July-August 2012 Newsletter.

The admission of Poetry

I came upon poetry late in life, and am sorry for that fact. It was four years after I arrived in New York City, the spring of 2002 that I first discovered the wonders of a well turned phrase. I was 34. An invitation came to me for a gathering where poet and soon to be NEA Chairman Dana Gioia was doing a reading of some of his rhymes and reciting other favorite poems. It was the first time I had ever been invited to an event where the invitation included two books to read in preparation for the festivities. Both, written by Mr. Gioia had a profound impact on my life and forever convinced me of my need for poetry. That night in Brooklyn where poetry was extolled, was memorable and especially needed by all the New Yorkers gathered as the specter of 9/11 still lingered even six months after those dark days.

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ON BEAUTY | in the context of culture and its institutions | Kirk Irwin


A subject that has been discussed for millennia, “Beauty” is still important today…maybe more so. But WHAT is it? Why is it important? And how is it related to the Art community and the non-artist community? Is it mere “window dressing”—confined to that which we see in the visible world, or is it perhaps a deeper thing? What is the source of Beauty? Is it a brute power—in and of itself—like “the Force” in Star Wars? Is it even valuable to simple everyday life?

This lecture was the subject of our October 2011 Newsletter.


Presented in partnership with:

* For more information about Friday Arts Project, visit their Facebook page:

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