About Jeanne

Jeanne Torrence Finley is a writer and clergy member of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Professionally she has been a college English teacher (Averett University and Forsyth Tech Community College), a campus minister (James Madison University), and pastor of rural churches in southwest Virginia. From 2007 to 2020 she wrote for FaithLink, a UMC curriculum on faith and current affairs.  She is a frequent contributor to Englewood Review of Books and the author of three curriculum books from Abingdon Press, including Three Simple Rules for Christian Living (an expansion of Reuben Job’s Three Simple Rules). Currently she is working on a book with Noel Paul Stookey (the “Paul” of Peter, Paul, and Mary) about his music, social activism, and spiritual journey.

Jeanne is a graduate of Pfeiffer University (B.A. in English), University of Tennessee (M.A. in English), Candler School of Theology at Emory University (M.T.S.), and Vanderbilt Divinity School (M.Div.).

She and her husband Bill live in southwest Virginia where they enjoy walking in the Blue Ridge mountains and listening to music (folk, jazz, classical, big band).  A native Tar Heel, she developed a taste for oyster stew and North Carolina barbecue at an early age.


About the Title

Although poet Emily Dickinson didn’t venture often or far from her home in Amherst, Massachusetts, she was quite aware of the events and ideas in the larger world.  She lived in the time of the abolitionist movement, the Civil War, and the beginnings of the women’s suffrage movement and often corresponded with Thomas Wentworth Higginson,  an abolitionist and a contributor to the Atlantic Monthly.  Poet Camille Dungy says, “ She was not blind to the changes brewing around her, even if she rarely wrote directly about them. Dickinson lived in a world hungry for answers, just as we do today. Her advice? ‘Tell all the truth but tell it slant.'” [1]

Between 1858 and 1865 Dickinson wrote around 1800 short poems through which she explored some fairly heavy topics like love, grief, and death.  The one from which the title of this site is taken deals with the power of truth and the human inability to absorb it in large doses.   It advises us to “tell it slant” because “Truth must dazzle gradually” so that we are not blinded by it.

Along with Emily Dickinson I believe that truth can be so powerful that we close ourselves off from it.  Artists and poets show us ways to deliver truth so delicately and judiciously that our hearts can remain open to it.  My vision for Tell It Slant is to lift up the creative work of people who speak truth–sometimes to power–and encourage reflection on both their methods and their wisdom.



All posts and other content © Jeanne Torrence Finley unless otherwise indicated.  If you re-post excerpts to your own website or blog, please include a credit line and a hyperlink back to my original post.  For other permissions, please contact me.

All images and photos on the site are used with permission.  Unless otherwise indicated, photos are by Bill Finley or by me.  No photo may be used or re-posted without my permission.

The opinions expressed on this website and its blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Methodist Church, FaithLink, or Ministry Matters.

Comments made about posts are moderated.  Please be civil. Comments that are rude, crude, or  needlessly repetitive will be deleted.  Commentators who indulge in name-calling, insults, and character assassination will be banned.

[1] Camille T. Dungy, “Tell It Slant:  How To Write a Wise Poem,”  Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/70128/tell-it-slant/.