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Near-death experience, re-visited: “Articles of Faith” in PRISM international

Earlier this summer, the fine folks at PRISM international published my non-fiction piece “Articles of Faith”. The essay was a finalist for both PRISM’s 2015 Non-Fiction contest and the 2014 Malahat Review Creative Non-Fiction contest. It’s great to see it in print.

“Articles of Faith” re-tells the story of my first visit to Turkey as a young man early in the new millennium, before 9-11 changed the way we fly. This was a time when I had begun to travel frequently around the globe for work. During the time of the story, I was spending a month in Istanbul and Turkish Cyprus as part of a work project for my job at the University of Victoria.

In the essay, I talk about a particularly dangerous flight to Cyprus and its repercussions on my life–how I understand mortality, risk, and living in the moment. While on the surface, the story is about the events of that flight, underneath it explores faith, religion (Islam in particular), terrorism in the region, and an unlikely friendship I formed with a young Turkish guy my age. It’s an important piece that captures a very particular era in my life.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

As the plane continues to veer hard to the right, it seems we are descending ominously onto our side down into the ocean.

The wailing around me rises in pitch. The two men beside me pray furiously, eyes closed, faces furrowed. In the tiny aisle across from me, a woman clutches her children to her chest, burying their faces in her bosom, like the scene in the movie Titantic when everyone knows for certain that the ship is going down. Grown men cry, and screams of “Allah” reverberate through the aircraft. Out the tiny window, the sea, getting close, seems richer, a more luminous blue, almost mesmerizing in the sun, and I think for a split second about the lifeboats and life jackets, of sliding out of the plane and riding the ocean to a secret land, like something out of Robinson Crusoe.

Warm thanks to everyone at PRISM for being so great to work with. In particular, thanks to editors Nicole Boyce and Christopher Evans, whose edits make the essay that much stronger. I heartily encourage you to order the magazine online through the PRISM website.

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