Come Before Winter, Part 2

Vic Sizemore

When Joseph Campbell lectured on Dante’s life chart in the Convivio, it was in the context of his own charting of an archetypal life pattern. He developed it from his study of world mythologies. He calls it the hero’s journey.

The hero’s journey begins with a call to adventure, a call to step off the well-traveled path and forge your own singular way. The hero often refuses the call initially due to fear of the unknown, but eventually the hero answers. Else there is no journey, and subsequently no story to tell.

When the hero answers the call and sets out, supernatural assistance is sent, a traveling companion, a paraclete. The journey takes the hero through darkness, a kind of death. This is true all the way back to the first story we have, of Gilgamesh making his way on foreign terrain in total black darkness day after day…

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An Atheist and a Saint

Vic Sizemore

“You don’t believe in God?” I ask my girlfriend Liz.

It’s a legitimate question in Lynchburg, Virginia, a city whose population of Baptists is on par with Salt Lake City’s Mormons. Finding an atheist who is out around here is like spotting a yeti.

We approach the one traffic light on the way back to Liz’s apartment from the college where she teaches economics. It is dark out, almost ten at night. She’s hunched forward in the dull orange glow of the streetlight, hugging her coat closed. Without saying a definite yes to my question, she makes it clear. She turns her head down in the cold car as if laying it on a pillow, the bottom half of her face disappearing into shadow.

“Is that a problem?” she says.

“No,” I say. “Should it be?”

I begin to wonder why it is not. Though I left the Baptist faith…

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