After the Bubble Bursts: Paul Karner

During his time at Lawrence Paul Karner was one of the most notable and successful students this University has ever seen. He was active in many campus activities, including WLFM, the Great Midwest Trivia Contest, and this very publication. “Yeah, I guess I was a pretty Big Man on Campus,” he admitted. “I basically had Plantz Hall eating out of my hand.” But life after Larry has not been easy for Karner. He first traveled to Haiti after graduation, hoping to find a job. “My friend told me that they needed English teachers, and I can speak English fairly well, so I thought that I would get a job.” Unfortunately, Karner knows neither French nor Haitian Creole, the official languages of the republic. “I couldn’t get a job, so after a few weeks I was just begging for food from tourists,” he said.

Karner eventually came back to the States by smuggling himself aboard a cargo ship, on which he received a new vision for his life. “I was singing some of my songs to myself when God started speaking to me. That’s when he told me to be a singing missionary.”

He has spent the past six months traveling the Midwest, singing songs about Jesus to whoever would listen. His music has been described as a cross between Wesley Willis and children’s church sing-a-longs. He accompanies himself with a guitar stolen from an unattended Conservatory practice room.

The ’07 grad has not, however, experienced the decadent life of a rockstar that he expected. “I thought that I would be making tons of money by now, and that lots of girls would be telling me that they would save themselves for me.” Instead, he has found himself just as destitute as in Haiti. Afflicted by hunger, Karner makes periodic returns to Lawrence during events such Midnight breakfast and Trivia. “Sometimes I don’t eat for days,” he said, “so I really appreciate that free food.”

Yet Karner refuses to call it quits. “Following God isn’t supposed to be easy, but God gave me a gift, and it’s my duty to use it.”

Paul requests that donations be sent via Paypal to