I had walked away from the Faith and from Jesus before I ever read a word that Michael had written but so many of the doubts, fears, and frustrations he wrote about could have been my own words. When I first started my wandering way back to Jesus and the Faith, I couldn't stand to read nearly any Christian writer. In fact, for quite a while I could only stomach the writings of Thomas Merton--so I read what I could get my hands on. When I look back now, I suppose that it was the loving and tender spirit of Merton that made it palatable for my wounded tastes. But as my tastes expanded, I was led to read some of Michael's writing at his website (internetmonk.com). Michael's essays were the first words by a living Christian writer that I could stand. There was something in the way he wrote and in the tenderness with which he addressed my particular wounds unknowingly that somehow made it okay for him to help teach me how to believe again.
Michael died earlier this year (April 5, 2010), after a brief and bitter encounter with cancer. Shortly before his death, he finished working on his first book which was published recently. You can (and should) buy a copy and read it. He was not alive to see it published but I am confident that such a thing doesn't bother him now. Countless better accounts have been written than what I offer here in his memory. You can read what Tall Skinny Kiwi has to say here or what Trevin Wax has to say here. The Associated Baptist Press had something to say here, and his biography remains on his website here. His friend Alan Creech added this, but perhaps the most touching remembrance of which I know is the eulogy delivered at his funeral by David Head--a transcript is recorded here. What I've thrown seems to be more about me than about Michael but in a way, his impact on my life tells more about him than I could ever hope to tell.
So, Michael, this is me saying "Thank you." I'm another one of your fans and like so many of us, I give thanks to God for your life and your words--maybe next year Cincinnati will have what it takes.