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Roger P. Martin

Roger P. Martin

While the Kettle's On bookcover

Cows are Freaky When They Look at You book cover








































Roger P. Martin: My personal preparation for writing a Doubter's Guide include my engagement since 1997 with Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence where I’ve served as church moderator, as well as on the coordinating committee and trustees board, and several times on worship-planning committees. 

My professional preparation includes a 25-year career as a research reporter/writer/editor at the University of Kansas. I founded Explore, an award-winning research magazine (judged by a Newsweek panel one of the nation’s 10 best university magazines in 1990), and then wrote commentaries about KU research broadcast on Kansas Public Radio.

My professional work equipped me with interviewing skills that helped me in the co-editing of an oral history of late 1960s potheads and dope-growers in and around Lawrence.  Titled Cows Are Freaky When They Look at You: An Oral History of the Kaw Valley Hemp Pickers, the book, published in 1991, is in its 7th printing.

--- Biography submitted by Roger P. Martin

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Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  



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Writing Samples  
  ---Chapter 1: The Wager

Why should anyone pursue a God the senses can’t grasp? who, as a force for good, hardly seems to matter, if we judge by the actions of God’s signature creation, Homo sapiens? whose earthly reps often muster a following by whipping up a frenzy of ill feeling toward one or another
group? Why would anyone mess with a God who rails throughout the Old Testament against his human betrayers – then dispatches a son to redeem us? A son who, like the father, is betrayed? whose most characteristic action, in the closing days of his life, is inaction? whose “brand” is crucifixion? Why would any thinking man or woman, knowing
this, make a leap of faith?

I didn’t leap. Haven’t leaped. But I can imagine the talk among my longtime friends about my decision to put a toe into the waters of organized religion. They’d seen me through the chart-casting (Virgo sun, Scorpio moon, Libra rising), Tarot card-reading and I Ching-throwing phases. They’d humored me during my oneirological phase – the years of feverish dream study – by gathering together for Dream Club once a month. I’ve been working to crack the code of the mysterious something at the heart of life for as long as I’ve lived, so when I plunged back into religion at age 51 it should have surprised no one.

On the other hand, I can imagine shock when people heard I was attending Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, Kansas.

Martin, a MENNONITE? Are you kidding?

---Chapter 17: The Measurer of All Things

Staring into these canyons [of the desert southwest], I simultaneously experience both my meaninglessness and significance, which is perfect for a 21st century human who is typically, and deeply, confused about who s/he is or what s/he means.

On the matter of meaninglessness: When I stare into those canyons and backward into cavernous time, the brevity of my life stares back at me. I wonder about the river that runs along the bottom of Canyon de Chelly, How did that bright string of water carve so deeply? My mind answers, Only after stretches of time that render my existence as insignificant as a speck of snow on a TV screen at the end of the broadcasting day in Oakley, Kansas, on, say, September 18, 1958.

As these thoughts sink in and I’m racing toward the end zone to put six points on the board for the forces of nihilism, a swift-footed thought catches me from behind: It’s only because of human beings that this “view” is a view at all. Without human eyes and minds to perceive and take pleasure from a canyon, it’s nothing more than a particle zoo out there – that’s how subatomic physicists put it, anyway. . . .

The irony is that though we are the universe’s primo meaning-making animal (or this solar system’s anyway), the species is so good at it that we’re having an identity crisis. One moment, we see ourselves on the mountaintop, the next in the toilet bowl, and both views are justified.
From the cell’s-eye-view of things, a human is an astonishing universe of trillions of usually cooperative cells, tissues and organs; from Earth’s perspective, a human is one of 7.37 billion Homo sapiens (as of September 23, 2015), one species out of one-point-something million species; and in the eyes of the Milky Way, the Earth is only one of 8.8 billion earth-sized planets. With all this in mind, it’s easy for a standard-issue earthling to become – as they like to say in Alcoholics Anonymous – an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.

--from A Doubter's Guide to God

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Endorsements for A Doubter's Guide to God:

With a lively mixture of urgency, perspective and humor, Roger Martin has dissected belief and unbelief, using his own personal experiences as well as pertinent thoughts of the sages and scholars. The result is an engaging and entertaining "guide to the perplexed," by one of these selfsame perplexed.

---Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait Inside My Head

Honest, funny, wild, brilliant, sad, joyous, complicated, entertaining, poignant, moving, sometimes searing - a memoir, a quest, a confession, a love letter - A Doubter's Guide is as uncategorizably remarkable a book as I have read in years. A startling book - the best kind.

---Brian Doyle, author of Mink River

Like a modern-day William James, Roger Martin explores "the varieties of religious experience" with brutal honesty, analytical precision, and stubborn persistence, following traces of God's presence wherever they lead. A vivid, often intimate, description of one person's relentless pusuit of God through scripture, neuroscience, emptiness, addiction, and an all-too-fallible community of believers.

---John Roth, editor of the Mennonite Quarterly Review

You needn't be taken with the subject of God to be pulled in by the author's fascinating jouney back to organized religion after several decades away from it. Whether you embrace or shun organized religion, I suspect you will find Roger Martin's book to be a timely, provocative, intimate and unique read.

---Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger

Roger Martin has crafted a probing and deep spiritual autobiography that limns his passionate search for the holy. Along the way he shares his expertise in such diverse fields as finance, brain chemistry, and the psychology and physiology of dreaming. Martin's ability to tell a story pulls you in and keeps you reading.

---Tim Miller, University of Kansas professor of religious studies
and author of The Encyclopedic Guide to American Intentional Communities

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Guide to the Roger Martin Collection, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

The City Moon

YouTube documentary about Roger

Lawrence Journal World (Stories by Roger)

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