Friday, August 1, 2008

Wrestling with titans

image My writing muse is burned out.  I left it somewhere in January, on the hard road to re-visioning Cascade Hills and our place in Salem.  Writing is for me a creative and spiritual exercise, and it draws from the same well from which I draw inspiration for meeting challenges in church planting.  Not all church planting work draws from this well--but the last six months has been focused on this kind of work.

We have emerged from this time of re-visioning with a renewed sense of God's calling and a clear idea of some concrete actions we can take to embody that calling.

Melissa and I have taken some time off to rest our weary bodies and minds, and after a few days of rest and family time, I have wandered back to the writing workslate and found myself with a very sore and tired creative spirit.  No words come to fill the page with wonders.  I would worry more, but I know that this part of me needs healing and rest like everything else.

As I wait patiently for that rest and peace to do its work, I find myself reviewing some large writing projects that have sat on the back burner for half a year or more now and I can feel the approach of bellows-wind on a bed of embers.  There is some good stuff here, and I anticipate the time in the next six months when I might have some creative energy to spare on these projects.

One of the things I ran across was some thinking I'd done in the last couple of years on the themes which most concern me when I think of the stories I most want to write.  Allow me to share these "big themes" with you in lieu of anything actually creative:

  1. Eschatology: what is the goal of everything? Toward what is everything moving? And how are we getting there? What are the dangers along the way? What would a glimpse of that goal look like? How can you get behind a telos (end) without comprehending it fully?
  2. Epistemology: how do we know what we know? What must we know? What knowledge must we avoid at all costs? What is the meaning of wisdom, and how do we recognize it when we see it? (Especially with reference to Human Unity below) How much does culture shape what we know or how we gain knowledge and wisdom, how we put it into practice? Unpacking (and smacking down) postmodernism is a major goal for me here.
  3. Divine Judgment: from what kind of perspective is the end of the world a good, necessary thing? The apocalypse is interesting, provocative why? How can you hold a love for marred creation and the need for an end in tension?
  4. Redemptive Violence: when is violence justified? Okay, what actually is violence? What place does violence play in the divine-human relationship, especially with reference to Divine Judgment, above? Is violence always bad, or a necessary corollary of evil? Can a good man use violence, and how does this affect him? There a serious questions for me here in the pacifism vs. redemptive violence debate.
  5. Human Unity: how can two culturally diverse people be made one (i.e., toward the eschaton)? What can they give up without ceasing to be who they are? What must they not give up? How does tolerance relate to a radical call to self-emptying? How should nations, peoples, cultures relate to the outsider? When is it okay (or necessary) to demand that a culture change?
  6. Heroism, Ethics, Duty: What is a true hero, and how is he made? How are difficult decisions made in impossible situations? Not merely self-sacrifice but self-surrender for a worthy greater good? What are the hero-imposters and how do they masquerade as true heroism? Is true heroism timeless? And its converse, what is cowardice, inhumanity, vice, dereliction of duty?

If you were to name the big themes in the stories you read and write, what would they be?  What are the titans you wrestle with?


preacherman said...

Wonderful post and questions.
It has really made me think.
I enjoyed this post alot.
I hope all is well and going great.
You are always in my thoughts and prayers brother.
May God give you a great week!

Kaydub said...

And what I WANTED to say last Friday at a BBQ, was that Bren & I REALLY have discovered that the four of us need to get together to breathe and to process and to pray! 'Know what I mean?

preacherman said...

I was wanting you to know Jason that Brian McLaren is going to be speaking at the ACU Lectures/Summit. You can check out more info on my blog. I am excited to be able hear him speak. As an emerging minister I think he has some great ideas. I wish they could have gotten Dan Kimball too but I definately will settle with Brian McLaren. :-)

Jake Shore said...

Great post. I think you pretty much covered the big themes/questions. You should teach a course on this stuff since so much of modern fiction is shallow, empty, or an amateur attempt to be deep by trying to decontruct traditional storytelling and the timeless themes that connect us with our past.

I am attracted to themes that deal with the need to confront evil. Surrendering to destiny. Brotherhood and Community. Every creature's longing for the divine. The source of good.

My Titans are in the form of expectations and time.