Prof’s varied life offers many lessons

May 6, 2011 Feature Print Print
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For anyone interested in the commonalities that lie between the subjects of religion, mythology, and a good glass of wine, look no further than adjunct Professor Greg Horton.

A former pastor and 2005 graduate of Southern Nazarene University, Horton began teaching at OCCC in 2006. As an adjunct professor he has taught mythology, ethics, comparative religions, and English composition.

As a freelance writer and journalist, Horton has published about 500 articles in a number of publications and has been a regular contributor and wine reviewer for the Oklahoma Gazette.

For Horton, the ability to combine these specialties has been the realization of a lifelong ambition.

“Teaching and writing have been my life goals since before I could articulate them,” he said. “I wrote for the school paper in high school, and even then I was doing an eclectic mix of sports, satire, poetry, fiction, and news. I love words.”

Horton began writing professionally in 1990. Yet, like many people, his life has had its share of change.

“A graduate degree in philosophy often serves to make clear what was previously unclear in terms of which questions to ask and which answers to disbelieve,” he said.

For many college students who may feel unsure as to what they really want out of college or life in general, Horton is encouraging.

“I think education can lead someone into their own life goals,” he said, “to finally find the native language each of us carries.

“For me it was philosophy. For others it’s math. The beauty of a liberal education is that you try tons of stuff ‘til something resonates in you like a verbal epiphany: ‘this is what I want to do.’ To be part of that process, as a writer and a teacher, is the joy of my life.”

Horton attempts to guide college students in discussing the varying principles of mythology and religion by giving them an understanding of the people who are directly involved.

“We spend a great deal of time clarifying language,” he said.

“We spend a good bit of our lives using words and phrases, especially religious ones, that we’ve never bothered to define.

“Defining those words, at least in terms of what we actually mean, makes communication possible and creates space for appreciation and respect of ‘the other,’ even as I disagree with their metaphysics. It’s better to argue constructively than fight.”

There are distinct parallels of thought in Horton’s own writings—whether the topic be religion or the differences in the wines he is surveying. Horton admits he is incapable of picking a solid favorite.

“Asking a wine enthusiast what their favorite wine is,” he said, “is like asking someone what their favorite movie is — there are far too many to choose, but anyone who enjoys wine will tell you that people who love wine love variety.”

For the student who wants to enter the world of journalism, Horton is rife with advice that may help them secure a job.

“Know what you’re talking about.

“I hate reading religion stories wherein it’s apparent a journalist doesn’t know an Episcopalian from a Buddhist,” Horton said.

“Writing is a relationship between writer, editor, and copy editor.

Always remember that your livelihood depends upon the goodwill of someone who has 97 things a week to worry about, in addition to you.

“Don’t be someone [your editor] worries about. Meet deadlines, over deliver, be thorough, do your own fact checking, and learn to write in Standard English.”

Horton contributes regularly to The Oklahoma Gazette and posts to his blog “The Parish” at http://theparish.typepad.com.

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