I’m a priest in the Episcopal Church and a professor of Biblical Studies (now retired). I’ve tried, in my writings, to keep both those vocations in conversation with each other, since I believe that academic work goes stale without the human intensity of faith and faith tends to wander astray if it avoids analysis and reflection. Since my retirement from teaching, I’ve increasingly turned to poetry as my principal form of writing.
I’ve always worked to express complex ideas clearly and directly. People who know me sometimes say that they can hear me talking as they read my work—a remark that I treasure.
I’ve written poetry for many years, though I’ve published only one volume of it—Lovesongs and Reproaches: Passionate Conversations with God (Morehouse). On this website you will be able to hear readings of some of my more recent work. Why read it instead of simply writing it out? I find people often find it easier to follow when it’s spoken aloud. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what the books about poetry have been saying for centuries.
My formal education concentrated on classical languages (especially Greek), Biblical studies, and early Christianity. I’ve also pursued a strong interest in Christian spirituality, particularly in the Anglican tradition. My hope in teaching has always been not just to impart information but also to encourage new and larger perspectives.
I am an associate priest at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Berkeley, California, You can find some of my sermons on the church’s website (goodshepherdberkeley.org). I am happily married to Jon—and deeply grateful to the Providence that has made this possible in our world. I am also the proud father of Sarah, father-in-law of Nicholas, and grandfather of Ioannis William. Jon and I live in the Bay Area, where I garden enthusiastically even if hampered by the present drought.
Oh, and you may have been curious about the ponderous “L. William Countryman” found on my publications. The “L.” stands for “Louis,” which was my father’s name. From childhood, I’ve always been known by middle name. It wasn’t a problem back in the 1940s, but it’s a great nuisance in a world of forms demanding first and last names and consigning the middle name to oblivion.