Author Interview The Best of Jonathan’s Corner


Interivew time! Today I’m interviewing CJS Hayward, author of creative non-fiction / religion “The Best of Jonathan’s Corner”. I hope you enjoy the interview.

What’s the hardest part of​ your path as an author?
Once I was trying to help a friend’s son look into colleges, and yesterday he handed me the phone, really excited, and said, “You have got to speak with these guys.” I fumbled the phone, picked it up, and heard, “—online. We offer perhaps the best-rounded of degrees, and from day one our students are equipped with a top-of-the-line Dell running up-to-the-minute Vista. We address back-end issues, giving students a grounding in Visual Basic .NET, striking the right balance between ‘reach’ and ‘rich,’ and a thorough groundings in Flash-based design and optimized for Internet Explorer . Throw in an MCSE, and marketing-based communication instruction that harnesses the full power of PowerPoint and covers the most effective ways to make use of animated pop-ups, opt-in subscriber lists, and—”

I interrupted. “Internet Exploder 6? Minesweeper Consultant and Solitaire Exp—excuse me, but what is your organization called?”

“The A-rist-o-crats.”
The joke is told ​about technology. It could also be told about the institution where I tried to earn my PhD, the hardest part of my path as an author yet and much worse, in my opinion, than cancer and chemotherapy with it.
As far as talent goes, I ranked, for instance, 7th in the nation in the 1989 MathCounts competition; I’ve been told I’m smarter than most Nobel prize laureates, and “the average Harvard PhD has never met someone as talented as you.” And I washed out of the program; my GPA was 3.386 after grading I found strange, and 3.5 was required to continue. End of discussion.
But I walked away from that with something better than a PhD; I walked away, for that matter, with something better than rooms full of silver and gold; I walked away with my life. And with all that happened, I’m not sure I should have emerged with that much.
And the fact that I’m not writing for refereed academic journals is probably good for my writing. It takes me a lot of effort to write; I might have less energy free if my effort was being siphoned by the rigors of another kind of writing competing for my energy. The Best of Jonathan’s Corner is more richly populated than if I were succeeding in academia, and the terrain I hoped to cover in my thesis is available to all in “Religion and Science” Is Not Just Intelligent Design vs. Evolution, included in The Best of Jonathan’s Corner.

Can you give us a short synopsis of The Best of Jonathan’s Corner?
The Best of Jonathan’s Corner is a collection of my best short works in theology, religion and spirituality across twenty years. Its contents are varied; in some ways it is more of a miniature library than a single work.
What inspired you to write this book?
For me, it really has been a process of inspiration, one that I can cooperate with but cannot summon. That is why I spend little time writing; I would spend more on my best works if I could, but the option is not open to me with how I create.
Let me give the inspiration process for the oldest and the newest pieces I have written this way. For the oldest, I was an undergraduate and had read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in an Age of Show Business, and heard of Immanuel Kant’s Religion Within the Bounds of Bare Reason, and then attended a church service that was the very definition of why Postman said, “I am not worried about religion becoming the content of television. I am worried about television becoming the content of religion.” It even imitated television in having a banner above the pastor that looked like what you would see on television. And after trying to write down what bothered me (and having the preacher say “I’ll continue what I’m doing, unchanged”), there was a seed that blossomed and grew into the satire of Religion Within the Bounds of Amusement.
More recently, I had a general sense of concern about a dark side to technologies, and Vince Homan wrote, and included in a newsletter, an article about Facebook as including a significant threat to marriage. That left me almost reeling, and helped crystallize “Social Antibodies” Needed: A Request of Orthodox Clergy.
In both cases, besides any external stimuli, there was a process of spiritual listening, of sounding something out, and wrestling both to master the creation and to get myself out of the way so the creation can voice itself–which are one and the same thing, not two. Once things going, despite what I have written above, the process is much less about the external stimulus and much more about prayerfully attending to what is crystallized.

How many hours per day do you spend writing?
This is probably going to earn me status as a black sheep, but on the average, maybe two to three. Inspiration is a high point of my life, but it occupies a few days, maybe more, every few months. I wrote voluminously when I was in high school; now I write emails every day and will write something technical if an employer wants such, but however much moments of inspiration may be a defining moment, they are not my bread and butter. I’ve heard the famous saying that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, but in my experience inspiration carries the day when it is there, and when it is not there, perspiration without inspiration is just perspiration.
Name your top seven favorite books.
One would be The Best of Jonathan’s Corner. It has, gathered together, all of my favorite works, and I write the kind of works I would like to read but can’t find.
The next three are all collections: the Bible, the Philokalia, and the Ante-Nicene Fathers / Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers collections. I am presently going through the many volumes of the last collection; I’ve read perhaps a quarter of the works that interest me.
Last to mention are C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Madeleine l’Engle’s A Wind in the Door, and Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. I have moved increasingly further from all three of these, as well as others like Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, but they all, in their own ways, were captivating to me, and shaped me as a man and as a writer.

What are you working on now?

Honestly, I’m working on getting a regular job. Do you know anyone who’s looking for a Jack-of-all-trades web developer? I’d love to hear!
What do you consider the most beautiful thing you’ve written?
That’s easy: nothing in The Best of Jonathan’s Corner. I’d pick my letters to my Grandma and Grandpa, who are getting on in years, and I try to write them one letter each day. They aren’t especially eloquent, or profound, or even interesting, but I don’t know of anything I’ve written that’s better than them.

About The Book

the-best-of-jonathans-corner-front-coverTitle: The Best of Jonathan’s Corner

Author: CJS Hayward

Genre: Creative non-fiction / many genres / religion and spirituality / Eastern Orthodox

The Best of Jonathan’s Corner, newly expanded ​ after getting five star reviews​, is a collection of varied works of Eastern Orthodox mystical theology. It spans many topics and many different genres of writing, but it keeps coming back to the biggest questions of all. It is inexhaustible: the works are independent, and you can read a few, many, or all of them to suit your taste. Fans of CS Lewis and GK Chesterton will love it.

Author Bio

wardrobe_full Christos Jonathan Seth Hayward wears many hats as a person: author, philosopher, theologian, artist, poet, wayfarer, philologist, inventor, web guru, teacher.

Some have asked, “If a much lesser C.S. Lewis were Orthodox, what would he be like?” And the answer may well be, “C.J.S. Hayward.”

Called “Jack of all trades and master of many” by one boss, he also wears many hats professionally: open source / IT generalist, front end developer, JavaScript programmer, back end web developer, Pythonista, PHP and Perl user, Django developer, end to end web developer, Unix/Linux/Mac wizard, LAMP guru, SQL generalist, Unix shell (both using existing shells and implementing a new shell), system administrator, researcher, technical writer, usability advocate, UI developer, UX/IA enthusiast, and more.

Hayward has lived in the U.S., Malaysia, England, and France, and holds master’s degrees bridging math and computers (UIUC), and philosophy and theology (Cambridge).



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