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This fantastic and unsettling creative piece from author Jeff Martin responds to Titus 1:5-14; 2:9-15; 3:8-14.

Titus 3:8-14

Titus 2:9-15

Titus 1:5-14

Slow Belly


Jeff Martin


Curated by: 

Jonathon Roberts


Creative Writing

Image by Giorgio Trovato

Primary Scripture

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Poor Titus. Think about what he’s been asked to do in this letter – find job candidates who are not only holy and just, but who are also blameless (“a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God”). It’s a tall order at best, a laughable one at worst, since how many people can say unequivocally that they’re entirely without blame? It got me thinking about what that job application would look like in our HR-driven modern era, and the fact that the very first question would necessarily have to be, “Are you blameless?” The other requirements are equally demanding: Are you holy? Are you just? Are you righteous? In other words, exactly the kinds of questions that the truly holy, just, and righteous would probably never answer yes to. It was both interesting and frightening then to write a story about someone who would answer yes to those questions and fully believe he was in the right in doing so. I say "frightening" because it strikes me that it's precisely this reaction – assumed, but unexamined, righteousness – that's brought our political discourse these days to a full stop, a stop the vast majority of us, myself included, are likely complicit in.

Political sentiments aside (if that can be done these days), it’s a strange story for sure. What I wanted the narrator to have the experience of, but never understand – the understanding is for the reader – is that he can believe himself to be holy and just all he likes, but God is still going to remain maddeningly mysterious, maddeningly unexpected, always near, always far.

Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Jeff Martin co-directs the UVA Young Writers Workshop and has been published in New England ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, and No Tokens Journal, among others. Find more of his work online at

Jeff Martin

About the Artist


Jeff Martin

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