Steve Shoemaker (1943-2016) shared Views from the Edge from the very beginning. Steve’s poetry and verse have a unique flavor. He didn’t crow about himself, though he towered over President Bill Clinton. It pleased him that his poetry and verse would endure after his death in Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness, and in the book he published. Not only did Steve not crow about himself. His great legacy is sin!
A Sin a Week: Fifty-two Sins Are Described Here in Loving Detail for Folks With the Inclination and Ability to Do Wrong, but Who Have Run Out of Bad Ideas was published earlier in 2016. Click the above link to purchase and review on Amazon. Steve loved detail and never ran out of bad ideas.
Steve spoke from the pulpit. He spoke through sonnets, limericks, poetry, and verse laced with humor. He towered over others but never looked down on them. He lifted others up. He shook the hands of Presidents and offered food and beds for the homeless.
Standing 6’8″, Steve Shoemaker walked through crowds looking over heads at Wrigley Field, his favorite ballpark, an inveterate Cubs fan, and at University of Illinois football and basketball games. He surveyed the landscape as a poet, noticing what more prosaic folks miss and writing about it at 2 or 4 a.m. on his iPhone, lying in bed next to Nadja, his high school sweetheart and spouse of 50 years.
A high school classmate of Roger Ebert in Urbana, IL, Steve loved film almost as much as Roger did. With a Ph.D. (Duke) in religion and literature, Steve’s poetry often surprised even his closest friends. Always wait for the last line.
For 14 years Steve hosted “Keeping’ the Faith”, a Sunday evening live interview and call-in program on religion and life aired by the University of Illinois Public Radio affiliate WILL.AM. His guests were on the cutting edge of science, technology, culture, religion, and politics. Click WILL.Illinois.Edu/keepinthefaith to hear archived programs.
An alumnus of McCormick Theological Seminary (M.Div. and M.T.S.) in Chicago, Steve became a small church pastor and college chaplain at North Carolina State University; Pastor and Executive Director, McKinley Presbyterian Church and the McKinley Foundation at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and Executive Director of the Campus YMCA at the university, the hub of student community service and social activism.
In the two years before his death from pancreatic cancer, Steve declared there would be no long essays. No more sermons. He would keep it short, which was to the liking of Nadja, his 4’11” University of Illinois microbiologist with over 100 peer-reviewed published papers, cited hundreds of times by peer research scientists. Nadja and their Lupus-afflicted Collie, Blazer, were always at his side.
Steve’s poetry is prominently featured in Gordon’s Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness by Wipf and Stock Publishers.
“O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed. Then, in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last.”
RIP, Steve. Your Cubs, like their long-suffering fans, are world champions!