What I Believe: 22 Personal Essays

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What I Believe: 22 Personal Essays

Product details

  • Author: John Langan (editor)
  • SKU/ISBN: 978-1-59194-801-8
  • Year: 2023
  • Page count: 216
  • Reading level: 8-12
  • Availability: In stock


From the Preface . . . 

A college friend of mine who knew he was dying wrote his own obituary, declaring he had departed for what Shakespeare calls “the undiscovered country from whose bourne/No traveler returns.”

The twenty-two essays in this book present personal responses to the reality that we must all depart one day for “the undiscovered country.” The essays were written in response to the following prompt:

Many people, especially as they become aware of their own mortality, adopt or form a belief system that helps them understand their purpose in the world. Write an essay describing your personal philosophy of life. The essay will be one that details the key influences and experiences that led to the development of your own special faith, values, or purpose in life.

The essays are as varied as the twenty-two writers included. For some essayists, a traditional belief system—Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist—serves as a starting point for forming meaningful life values. For several others, an elemental humanism akin to the philosophy of the poet W.H. Auden, who declared, “We are here to help others,” is at the heart of their belief system. One writer is playfully skeptical about a larger purpose in life, while another unabashedly celebrates atheism. A third finds meaning in pursuing the democratic ideals on which his country was founded.

For all their differences, each writer makes an honest attempt to arrive at an understanding of how best to live life here on this mysterious planet. Each writer declares, “Here is a life philosophy, a personal statement of belief, that has shaped and guided me.”  What I Believe invites you to reflect on the diversity of experience in these twenty-two essays, perhaps prompting you to explore the convictions and values that guide your own life.

More information


Preface ..... v

Dedication ..... vii

John Wood .... 1

Dawn Cogliser ..... 13

George Mattmiller, Jr. ..... 21

Tanya Savory ..... 33

Tim Whitaker ..... 39

Ayesha Rahman ..... 47

Dick Kratz ..... 57

Janet Goldstein ..... 65

Sara Oremland ..... 75

Neil Fagan ..... 83

Kathy Johnsey ..... 93

Tierra George ..... 105

Bob Miedel ..... 117

Ruth Rouff ..... 127

John Kellmayer ..... 137

Victoria Mikolajczyk ..... 145

Deborah Grandinetti ..... 153

Harry Taylor ..... 167

Gabriele Amersbach ..... 177

John Langan ..... 187

Sally Friedman ..... 197

Kate Zbella ..... 205

This book is a collection of real essays submitted to Townsend Press by educators. We are currently seeking submissions for a new essay contest right now. Writers of winning essays will receive cash prizes and may have their work published in a forthcoming book. Get all the details here