I grew up in a small fishing village in the shadow of Manhattan’s skyline, a juxtaposition that informs The Mythic Monastery: an ordinary hero on an extraordinary adventure with Jesus.
With a contemplative artist father and a Jesuit missionary uncle, spirituality was a lifestyle that integrated cathedrals and clam shacks, monasteries and boatyards, monks poring over illuminated manuscripts and fisherman hunched over nets. All the sizzle of Manhattan funneled through our home as my father, a designer, routinely invited designers from foreign lands for a meal. Fascinated by their exotic accents, my itch to travel grew. I left for France in 1994 as a missionary. A call to write followed me.
I discovered The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler’s book on mythic structure—the Hero’s Journey. In mythic structure I recognized the pattern of our ancient faith, “the passage of a soul through life”—as Vogler wrote. Would the Hero’s Journey work in ministry? Could it translate faith to secular humanistic France? I gave it a try. Story, like Jesus’ parables, became an essential component to my ministry.
A decade later, asked to join a training team for artists entering missions, I prepared curriculum on spiritual formation. Pulling my beat-up copy of The Writer’s Journey from the shelf, I fleshed out some ideas, added monastic practices, and looked for a movie. My goal was to provide imaginative hooks to support key intellectual principles—bringing head and heart together.
A worldwide community had formed around beloved characters in a rare film series that showed heroism from a Christian worldview. I had my film—Lord of the Rings—perfect for a global audience. Armed with YouTube clips and quotes, I began teaching the curriculum.
Poet, writer, and culture vulture for over 25 years, I’ve been one of a team pioneering arts in mission, cultivating a global network of artists through short term projects, social media, writing, teaching, and mentoring with this material—now taking shape as a book. The book merges Hollywood and Christian Orthodoxy. In its original curriculum format, it’s been called Star Wars meets Pilgrim’s Progress.
I’ve now been to 25 countries, lived in France and Italy, and published three poetry chapbooks. I’m still partial to monasteries, boatyards, and clamshacks, and my own pillow.