Do the Work

“Consequently, those who are laboring in the creative arts among the young, restless, and Reformed need to pray that God give them some words. They need poets, writers, wordsmiths, screenplay writers. Special note: this is not the same thing as needing people who desperately want to be poets, writers, etc. Still less is it a need for people who want to have written something grand, but are too lazy actually to do it. We need that kind of aspiring screenwriter like we need a sucking chest wound.”

Doug Wilson

The above block-quote is a side comment within a larger diatribe about Christian artists relying on nice equipment to do their storytelling for them (his conclusion: it’s never good).

This is transparently applicable to aspiring photographers and movie-makers — viz., Don’t think that your camera angles and HD video will make up for a mediocre narrative. This is a helpful point.

But I think there’s a takeaway for Christian writers as well, and I also think this is Wilson’s larger beef. The church indeed needs good storytellers, but not people who want to look like good storytellers. For non-writers, this means nice equipment. For writers, this means talking a lot about how they want to be a writer but never actually, you know, writing. You know people like this. I know people like this. They’re annoying.

There’s a thin line here, however. Writing is hard. It takes a great deal of mental effort and commitment, and most people everybody is bad at first. Really bad. I think one of the best ways to grow as a writer is with both encouragement and accountability. You don’t get either without letting everybody know, without equivocation, that I WANT TO BE A WRITER, because then your friends and family and classmates will constantly ask you if you’ve written anything lately. You’ll want to tell them yes.

This is the exact danger Wilson (rightly) warns us about. And I think the way to avoid it is to say what you’re going to do, then do it. This is not a writing problem, by the way. This is a life problem.

When you talk a lot about some rigorous workout regimen you’re doing but your body never changes, that’s lame. When you don’t tell anyone you’re going to get into shape, you’re going to quit after that first morning when you’re feeling all sore and stuff because hey, no one knew I even started.

So: stop trying to look cool. Admit you’re not cool, then work within a community to become so. Embrace the process.

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[Ed. The post title and picture both come from Stephen Pressfield’s excellent book, available here.]

Monday Morning Press 9.26

Interesting interview with Larry Woiwode, Christian writer and essayist, about literature, life, and culture. Haven’t watched the whole thing yet, but intirigued by what I’ve seen. (HT: JT)

Doug Wilson gives some wise and timely advice to contemporary, Reformed Christian artists. I’ll probably post more extensively about this in the near future.

J.R. Daniel Kirk considers the unique importance of divine revelation.

Tim Keller thinks hard about when and how Christians should use and not use pointed, rough, orthodoxy-defending polemics.

I’m very interested in how the Old Testament relates to the New, but I reflexively get uneasy about ostensible narrative connections like this — “Jesus is the true Daniel in the Lion’s Den” — when the NT writers don’t link them explicitly (contra the story of Jonah, for example, which Jesus pointedly connects to himself). Still, Dane Ortlund draws some convincing parallels between the narrative in Daniel 6 and what we know about Jesus’ life and ministry. He makes me want to study it deeper.

If you like the Counterpoints “Five Views on ___” series as I do, Koinonia provides a comprehensive list of all the volumes. I’ve found these works extremely helpful in cultivating an awareness of what the believers across the Evangelical spectrum think about important issues. Check em out.

After it was revealed last week that John Smoltz (and possibly other Braves pitchers) doctored baseballs in the 90’s, Amazin’ Avenue’s Matthew Callan wonders why pitchers messing with balls doesn’t garner the same outrage as hitters taking steroids. It is a very fair question, and I think his conclusion is compelling.

Also, these guys rock.

Monday Morning Press 9.12

ESPN’s Steve Wulf with an incredible story about ex-Mets manager Bobby Valentine and the friendship he developed with a 9/11 victim’s children. Read it.

Kevin DeYoung writes a prayer for 9/11, ten years later.

My good friend Chris Pluger and his family just moved to Zambia with Lutheran Bible Translators. Christians are people of the Word, so the Pluger’s mission is critical for the spread of the gospel to the nations, as Jesus commanded: translating the Bible into the common language of an African people group. Chris will be doing the actual work of translating the actual Bible—a lengthy process that is just beginning with learning the Nsenga language. Pray for them.

If you haven’t heard of Grantland, you need to check it out—it’s a site of sports writing for people who are tired of reading (and for me, writing) traditional sports writing. Last week, Michael MacCambridge reflected on David Foster Wallace’s famous essay in a 2006 issue of PLAY magazine on “Roger Federer as a Religious Experience.” If you haven’t read the original DFW essay, do so here.

So, that happened:

It was real. And I was there, actually. The cool thing is that this is a ridiculously likable (if athletically flawed) team. Check out QB Denard Robinson when he was told he produced a combined 446 yards of offense (336 passing, 110 rushing):

At the 1:58 mark:

Cool? Cool.