March 16, 2013 in City

My gospel, according to Paul, or, a come-to-Jesus moment

Donald Clegg
About this column

Three times a month, three community columnists weigh in on matters of faith and values. The Faith and Values column appears Saturday and features artist Donald Clegg of Spokane, retired Methodist minister Paul Graves of Sandpoint and Steve Massey, a pastor from Hayden.

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve just become someone else? And that, in this new reality, you have an entirely different worldview? What would it be like to have a new self, not only looking at the world through another’s eyes, but to be looked at differently in return? And how many drugs would you have to take to effect this transformation?

Well, this very thing happened to me recently, and without the aid of peyote or other hallucinogen. I’m not a texter-tweeter-twitterer kind of guy – I think one of them involves 140 characters, whatever that means – so I sat down on a recent Saturday morning to see if I had any actual emails other than of the “start melting your fat away naturally” variety.

Hmmm … what’s this subject line? “Msg of the Crucifixion”? Okey-dokey, I’ll bite. “Hello! From the content of this Saturday’s Faith and Values column I see that you have certainly grown in your perspective of … .” I read on. Say what? Wow, what’s this guy been smoking?

I opened another: “I like the way you think. Especially in light of Isaiah 43:25. ‘I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.’ ”

Holy moly, I don’t recall ever thinking of Isaiah. So I go to one of my 13 bookcases — I know, I know, but there’s just no room for a 14th — and find my King James. The New Testament, as the Old-T God is too cranky for my taste, and nope, no Isaiah in there. I briefly wonder, “Wasn’t Isaiah the guy that God asked to cut his son’s throat just ’cause God said so? Ezekiel maybe?”

So by now even someone as slow as I should be able to deduce that something’s afoot, right? Also aberrant, amiss, abnormal and absurd. Hey! Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a look at the paper! I do so, seeing with some surprise that I apparently put together a column while sleepwriting: “Well whaddaya know. There’s my picture all right and there’s my name also too, but what’s up with the title, and why am I writing about Lent?”

Here’s the deal, in case you missed the paper’s correction the following morning, or just wonder what the heck happened to the Don you love/hate. It was written by one Paul Graves, not me, and after I read it, I went back to the computer to send him a “Did you see this yet?” He already had, and his subject line said, “Good column today!” Paul wanted his old photo replaced by a new one and oops, someone put mine in, instead. Here’s my slightly edited reply to him:

“Well, I was just going to sit down and reply to some of ‘my’ respondents, when your email arrived. As I told my wife, I had no idea that I knew so much about today’s subject. (Told her it must be ‘revealed knowledge.’)

“Anyway, what I plan to do here is write a response for folks, explaining the mistake, and I’ll forward all emails to you. From my perspective, this is actually quite interesting on several levels: the idea that yours/mine thoughts and perspectives could be conflated with each other … and especially that it appears plausible for me to write today’s column, rather than you. I’ll take it that this speaks well for us both.”

Not that there weren’t a few skeptics — “This sure sounds like Paul Graves” — who wondered about authorship. And, as Graves told me, too bad it wasn’t on April 1. Maybe next time.

Donald Clegg, a longtime Spokane resident, is an author and professional watercolor artist. Contact him via email at

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