Leave-takings

 

Savannah Church Door

It is no wonder that Virginia Woolf entitled a collection of essays on writing “A Room of One’s Own” since not only does a writer’s room occupy a space all its own, like a creative work or an individual’s life, but it maintains the boundaries of that space with enclosing walls formed at its conception. Only a doorway admits entrance or exit both to the occupant and visitor. And whatever that “room” may be, however modest or grand, private or public, man-made or natural, we leave one room only to enter another which in turn we leave for another. It is this sense of leave-taking that we see played out in our lives and in our occupations, but also in the interior spaces of the imagination as artists and storytellers, scholars, and critics.

In our lives, we pass through places, events, times, and histories, our own history intersecting with others’, passing from one day to the next until time stops. As writers we leave the “real” world with its ready-made structures and demands into a self-created world which may or may not bear a resemblance to any we have known.

But leave-taking in its many forms is not an easy job, and the dynamics of its interplay between the leaving of one room for another creates an uneasy tension.

There is an entrance that must be made and, more often than not, what we see is a closed door. Maybe even locked. Perhaps only slammed shut by an unceremoniously hostile exit echoing with the finality of rejection. It doesn’t matter that you yourself may have slammed it shut, stung by criticism or scorn or frustration at fruitless effort. The closed door dares you to approach it once more and make your entrance.

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Notes: “Writing from a Christian Worldview”

baretreesnightsky

Dr. Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan discussed his insights into “Writing from a Christian Worldview” during a Redeemer InterArts Fellowship in 2003. What was said then rings true today. As his website puts it, “You can’t make sense from facts without using them to create a story, and you can’t make sense of a story without putting it in context of a macro-level worldview. All the stories we tell as Christians fall into the gospel worldview of creational good, fallenness, and redemption.”

For me, the most helpful takeaway from this hour-long discussion revolved around “how Jesus resolves the plot lines” for these reasons:

1. Every story fits into the world’s story, an overarching narrative that you believe in: “You can’t tell facts without a story.”

2. Every story is a subplot of your macro-story. If the macro-story is the Christian storyline, then it will follow the creation-fall-redemption arc.

3. The Christian story co-opts or completes all the storylines of all cultures and worldviews. For example, is it a story of gaining power? wisdom? goodness? freedom? Only Jesus can resolve and satisfy these other worldviews.

In effect, the Gospel story is the story to which all good stories point.

Happy writing!

Where are the Gargoyles of Yesteryear?

640px-Gargoyles_and_chimeras_1,_Notre-Dame_de_Paris_2011

 Gargoyles and chimeras of Notre-Dame de Paris

Our culture glorifies man, not God. It has turned the Gospel to a social do-gooder’s tool so that we turn all our God-given creative energy to social tasks and neglect to glorify God with our offerings of beauty, not just in church architecture but also music, literature, drama and art. Secular educators and media have succeeded in making us feel guilty if we “waste” our money or time by spending it on buying or creating works that attempt to magnify the Father we love, to show forth His glory to the world in gratitude for all we have received. This manipulative guilt has crippled us, so that there is hardly a church on earth that will spend a penny on supporting their own artist, novelist, screenplay writer, classical musician, or architect, and if they do, I suspect they gut the work of its guts, so to speak, so that a Shakespeare (uses bad words), a Michelangelo (nudity) or a Bach (is that really praise music?) is shamed into submission or flight. So the truth we see in beauty belongs to another age, when a Notre Dame (with the gargolyles) was built, a place where people, when they walk in, gasp in astonishment at what man labored to make, only to glorify His maker!