Professor Profile: Creative Writing Professor Satisfied in Christ

Professor Graff enjoys the teaching lifestyle

By Madeleine Mosher

Andrew Graff was walking down the sidewalk at Lawrence University, where he was a student, when he was stopped by a little boy who jumped from behind a bush to the sidewalk. 

The boy did a “Michael Jackson spin move,” Graff said, and, at the end, held a tract out to Graff. 

Looking at it, Graff read, “Do you want to change your life? Gospel of Luke. Church of Christ.” 

“Yes,” Graff thought. 

Unbeknown to his friends, Graff started attending that church. 

It was a return to the habits of his childhood when his family had attended church, sometimes intermittently, sometimes consistently. 

When he got into high school, however, he said he started to “grow cold” to his faith and spend time with people who pulled him even further from it. 

He enlisted in the Air Force when he was 19 and spent four years living in barracks or dorms. 

After he got out of the Air Force, he went to Lawrence University and studied English literature. 

 His education steeped him in the post-modern worldview. Describing it, Graff said a main tenet of the view is that all truth is relative. He found this appealing at first but soon realized that it was difficult to live. 

“The professors trumpeting these ideas most loudly were still like jogging for fitness and paying their bills and pressing their suits every morning,” Graff said, meaning that they weren’t practicing what they taught. 

“That got pretty miserable pretty quickly,” he said. 

Nevertheless, he said Lawrence educated him well and taught him how to think, and it was there he decided to teach. 

“I don’t have to leave this pattern of life,” he said, “like reading in the winter and rafting in the summer.” 

He said the job gives him control over his schedule. He doesn’t have to clock in or out at a certain time, and he can order his day the way he wants to. 

“I can’t imagine doing anything but being a writing prof,” he said, “I hope to do it until I’m really old.” 

After getting a Master’s in Fine Arts at Iowa University, he taught for four years at a state college in Wisconsin. 

Then, because he wanted to teach at a liberal arts school and experience Christian academia, he came to Cedarville to teach composition, poetry and fiction. 

Abby Edsell, a junior Professional Writing and Information Design major with a Creative Writing minor, has had Graff for all three. 

“His kindness and his love for the Lord,” Edsell said, “are so evident in his teaching.” 

She’s found him to be encouraging as a teacher of writing as well. She said that his feedback on her work is always positive. 

She said she appreciated his laid-back approach to his classes, telling his students that he didn’t want them to be stressed by assignments. 

“That kinda like, lets you take a breath and be like, ‘Ok, I can do this,’” Edsell said. 

She said she loves the way he prays before class because it’s truthful and encouraging. He prays about what Christ has done for him and Edsell enjoys the reminder. 

Graff’s return to the church satiated a hunger that he’d felt since walking away from the faith he had as a child. 

When he was about 10 years old, he said he had an encounter with God one night in his bedroom. 

“I just felt like … in the presence of the most powerful, safe being I’ve ever been in the presence of,” Graff said, “I felt overwhelmed with joy, and I just knew with a certainty in my bones that God was real and he was good and he knew me and he was close.” 

After leaving the church, Graff craved that presence and feeling. He looked for it in literature, unhealthy choices and postmodern worldview. 

But he didn’t find it and he wanted to change his life. 

And, thanks to a little boy with a spin move and a tract, he did. 

Madeleine Mosher is a junior journalism major and an Arts & Entertainment co-editor for Cedars. When she’s not watching Amazon Prime, she’s probably at the gym, asking if anyone has food, or falling asleep.

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