Words with Adam Kroeker
Tell us a bit about yourself…Your life and/or work.
People are often surprised when I tell them about my work history. I grew up on a farm and drove tractor once in a while. I’ve designed monsters for a video game company. I’ve powder-coated bike racks that are now sitting in American Walmarts. I’ve picked eggs and I’ve picked dead chickens from their cages. I’ve followed nurses around a hospital for statistical analysis. I’ve played music in a mariachi band. I’ve catalogued books in an antique store. Right now, I’m doing digital logistics for a nonprofit food organization. But the one thing that I’ve been doing through it all—the one thing that can even turn inane jobs into something satisfying—is writing.
Somehow, I’ve found myself in the role of a poet. If, a dozen years ago, some wise old man had told me I would enter the maze of all writing and end up in that dark corner marked Poetry (written on a nearly illegible bronze plaque), I would have been inclined to bonk him over the head with a hard kitchen appliance. Yet that was before I discovered William Yeats, and William Carlos Williams, and William Wordsworth… (I suddenly realize the profession might require a name change). So, I eventually came to writing stuff in poetic form, despite the fact that there is almost no financial future in it, and almost no readership. But in terms of a medium which brings together personality, philosophy, language and beauty in such a condensed form, poetry has no equal.
For those few of you still interested in the art, I’m hoping to publish a collection in the near future called something like Fanciful Descriptions of Stock Photography, for which I would love a few advanced readers. Each poem takes its title from a stock photograph on the internet (eg. “Homeless Person with Empty Space for Text”) and addresses the subject matter through a poetry that plays off classical forms and sound-styles in modern, oh-so-trendy ways. I hope it’s both wildly fun and deadly serious.
How did you come to faith? How long have you been a part of the SBT community? What have been your greatest life lessons thus far? What is your hope for the future?
When it comes to faith, I feel my story is a little like that of Moses. One day, I opened my eyes and found that I was in a basket that was drifting down a reed-lined stream. I didn’t quite know how I had gotten into the basket, nor much about where the stream was going, but I felt that it was the right place to be.
I remember a distinct moment at about five years old (in the hallway, right outside the bathroom door) when I consciously acknowledged this faith-life that I had been placed into by my parents, and indeed the chain of ancestors (some links rustier than others) before them. It’s humbling to realize that my safe passage has been provided, in part, by some now-forgotten men and women who faithfully followed the calling of God in their own lives, in whatever simple way this might have been.
As my last name suggests, most of these ancestors were Mennonites, a people whom the larger church has always had a problem pinning down. Sometimes they were viewed as rebels, sometimes as too passive. Sometimes too heretical and sometimes too old-fashioned. Most Mennonites have never felt at home in more established church traditions, and yet here I am: an Anabaptist among the Anglican place-setting at st. benedict’s table.
I have been here for three years now, maybe more, and it has felt like home to me. I know I am one among many in this congregation that have come from different denominational backgrounds. This gives me great hope in the Church universal—old barriers are being broken down and differences are being put aside to meet at the table where we all share (and share in) one body.
This, I feel, is the essence of what it means to follow Christ. Every day, we must learn a little bit more about how we can better love God and love each other. I see this as one of the few philosophies in the world that is truly founded on equality. The ability to love is open to all—regardless of wealth, health, status or age.
Of course, loving each other doesn’t always come easy. We need patience and wisdom. We need help.
But this, I think, has always been the most important function of the written word. I’m excited to have a little part in building communities where people can learn to love—in an unexpected way—others different than themselves.