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Scotty McLennan
Dean of Religious Life

Rev. Scotty McLennan is the author of Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up with Has Lost Its Meaning and, with Laura Nash, Church on Sunday, Work on Monday: A Guide to Reflection, and writing about religious faith and ethics presents many questions of thought, approach and tone. As Dean of Religious Life, Rev. McLennan will also offer insights into the very particular genres of the sermon and other forms of oratory, in addition to the rhetoric involved in ceremonial and spiritual occasions. Plus, as Doonesbury's "Dude of God," he has the unique experience of living a parallel life as a fictional character himself!


Scotty McLennan, Dean of Religious Life, keeps nine maxims taped over his writing desk. The last three are “Sing God’s Glory,” “You bore, you die,” and “Write from the top of my head, and the bottom of my heart.” With maxims like these, Scotty (as he is universally called) produces books on spiritual seeking and business ethics, along with countless sermons and invocations for weddings and other life transitions. Scotty has been an activist lawyer, as well, so his writing experience includes legal briefs, as well as Op Ed pieces on what constitutes a just war. Scotty works hard to sing God’s glory without boring anyone – and every writer knows that that’s a tough task. With early morning meditation and showers filled with ideas, Scotty keeps at his task with vigor and determination. He explains how he uses the “lectionary” of the Bible for Sunday sermons – a medium for working through the Bible over the course of three years. It’s not easy: “I was told once that you should spend an hour of preparation for every minute that you speak.” The basic outline for his book Finding Your Religion When the Faith You Grew up on Has Lost Its Meaning was inspired by a nine-point sermon, which provided him with the outline for nine chapters. What an interesting synergy between different genres. At the time of this interview he was working with a literary agent, producing a book proposal before actually writing – an even different mode than he had experienced before. But he has his role models to see him through: one of his maxims is “Think Fitzgerald,” and he never wanders far from his spiritual inspiration. Writing takes hard work, although he notes how ideas for books and other projects seem to come about through serendipity. Such are the joys of singing God’s glory.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003, 7 p.m.
Stanford Writing Center, Basement of Margaret Jacks Hall (Bldg. 460)