Caleb Joseph Warner
is one unusual owl. I first became aware of him like I became aware of many realities of this world: dimly at first, emerging out of the fog and fluorescence of school in a church basement. He held a small star in his palm that burned away the mist. I remember thinking that his hair was pretty cool. But with the passage of time came a deeper revelation, unfolding from mere awareness into experiential knowledge. His laughter began to reveal alien thoughts, which upon investigation proved to not be so alien after all; rather, they were the product of an intense, passionate, totally independent mind cultivated over years by faith and wisdom. A temptation for intelligent people is to lock themselves within their brilliance, to never surface from the study of things they have deemed to be important. A temptation for creative people is to lock themselves within their imagination, to never leave the comfort of their fantasies and dreams. Caleb is both brilliant and imaginative, but his abiding love, of God and of creation, has driven him not further into himself but into deep times and spaces.
Caleb is not just interested in things. Caleb respects things–he loves things. He loves clean homes, cosmology, turtles, writing, soups, people, and God. He pursues his desires with a manic intensity. At times his tongue will burn like a warm star as his mind dances between conviction and inspiration. Humans are always at war within themselves: their principles constantly rage and rebel against their desires. But in Caleb’s life I see so much fruit from wherever his worship of God and passion for the world are married. Like the rest of us, Caleb struggles with certain weeds. Cynicism and distraction are always threats to the garden. But it is a joy and a privilege to witness him in his youthful strength. He challenges, convicts, counsels, and inspires me. And even more, we laugh together.
Michael Thomas Jones
Michael Thomas Jones
is one interesting penguin. It’s difficult to put into words all the ways I respect, admire, envy him. This feels like a weird friend-love letter that isn’t for him but for the people who come to our online collaborative journal. Ah well. What I can say is that I envy how much and how easily he reads epic novels, his ability to be in the “know” so naturally, and his vast field of interest. This vast field of interest makes a lot of sense considering his main world of giftedness being: synthesis, collation, archiving, compressing, conceptualizing. He comprehends broadly so that he can understand the truths which are the foundations under the deep wells that others dig for their labor. Although he might complain to me that there is not any one particular thing he has “dug” into, I don’t find it to be a weakness. That lack of specificity is just one quality of his vocation as a fantasist; which is a vocation that certainly requires specific gifts. The gift of imagination. The man is burdened by visions. It really is a blessing and a curse. How is someone supposed to weigh the value of the visions in their head when all of them seem so jewel-like? That might be a core question for him alongside, “What is the purpose of imagining?” But if Mike finds the answer to that question for himself, he’ll find it for everyone else. And that is a question that only the person who so naturally imagines other places, possibilities, creations can answer for us.
At the same time, I don’t want to pigeon-hole Mike and exclusively define him as a “fantasist”. There is much more going on inside his head, heart. The nature of biography is the requirement to come up with certain handles for the people being described. And I think the first handle that is the easiest to grasp is “fantasist”. I suppose most people could understand what I’d mean if I said that he is “excitable” and “encouraging.” So many things (i.e. “the world”) strike him as funny, amusing, profound. He has a sensitive eye for truth and comedy, both opposite sides of the same coin. And he is so willing to give feedback, serious feedback, on hallucinogenic visions I dream up. He has told me things are crap before. I prize that opinion. He can discern value–maybe because he has already been through three lives of consuming/digesting. And there are plenty of things that offend his highly structured value system; not a rigid structure but something alive, coming alive and almost boundless and ready to swallow up Mike himself if he isn’t careful.
Everything isn’t beautiful in his worldview. He is well aware of the evil, darkness both inside the individual and threatening mankind. And if he answers the difficult questions about imagination, this obvious and Real Evil that is killing everyone will also want a conversation with him. And his answer might be the same. But the rest of Mike, is it not written in the Book of the Soul of Mike? For time would fail me to tell of all the inner-workings to which neither he nor I are privy.
Caleb Joseph Warner