Monthly Archives: March 2015

Inspired?

I go to a church where people occasionally stand (or remain sitting) and bring a prophetic word. And I suspect the inspiration they receive that prompts these outbursts may be of identical substance to the inspirations that seem to compel us writers to feel what people call “in the zone,” as if the words we write are coming from elsewhere.

I was having lunch with Charlie Gregg, a pastor and pastor’s kid. He’s witnessed probably thousands of what church folks call “words of knowledge” and also written plenty of sermons, devotions and stories. He agreed with my comparison and added, “I feel most convinced that the promptings are from God when I’m in worship.”

Perhaps that’s a universal experience. If so, and if we could all find a worshipful (or thankful or open-hearted) attitude to write within, we’d likely be more open to the spirit’s instructions.

Spirit?

Morty Sklar founded a publishing venture called The Spirit That Moves Us.

That’s the spirit I mean.

As most earnest writers would agree, we write because we have to. We get depressed when we don’t. Something tells us to write down what we see, feel or imagine. After we’ve followed that direction, something tells us, “Develop that more, you haven’t told the whole story.” When we ask, “What’s the whole story?” something says “You’re only going to learn that by telling it well.”

In the end, when we’ve created a story or poem or essay that seems to transcend what we know and what we intended and that teaches us something new, we probably feel closer to the joy God knows in creation than anybody other than creators can feel.

Maybe the something that urges and compels us is what we Christians call the Holy Spirit. If so, we should pay more attention to that advisor.

On ChristianityToday.com, I read: “I’ve puzzled over a riddle for some time now. It goes like this: Those who call on Jesus for salvation are given the Holy Spirit. It’s through the Spirit’s power that we, simple jars of clay, are able to shine golden and do wonderful things beyond our human capability. So, why do Christians, who claim access to the original creator, so often produce poor art?”

One reason may be that Christians tend not to value their imaginations as much as they value order and discipline. Art can be messy.

I suspect most artists could get diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. But, at least in most cases, I wouldn’t consider that condition a disorder. I’d call it a blessing.

When I start to pray, after a few seconds, my mind drifts, and the prayer gets left behind. I’ve tried meditating. My mind refuses to shut down, or even relax. Now, “prayer warriors” and avid pursuers of meditation would no doubt assure me that practice would bring control over my wandering mind. But so far I haven’t felt God urging me to dedicate myself to lengthy prayers or daily meditation. I have, though, sensed him telling me to write most every day.

I suspect we artists were created to scatter more readily, to be more self-propelled than other folks, and to resist imposed structures. So, maybe our best road for inching or rushing closer to God is the same road that will lead us toward better paintings, songs or stories. Maybe, since God appears to have designed us to make art, we’ll never find peace or please God any other way.

Or maybe I’m nuts.

A selection from Writing and the Spirit, by Ken Kuhlken

Angels and Demons 1

A mysterious force prompted me to read a Frank Peretti novel. I found a deal on The Visitation. After reading that, feeling compelled to read another, I bought This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, both of which I had read long enough ago so the details of the story had escaped me.

For those who haven’t read Peretti or have forgotten, the novels’ main characters are demons who work undercover to accomplish Satan’s schemes; angels who stand guard over the humans who play parts in the great drama; and the saints without whose fervent prayers the angels might get massacred.

Aside from the demons, Peretti’s bad guys are mostly occultists, devotees of various religions and practices such as yoga and meditation, psychologists, public servants gone over to the dark side, and of course lawyers (generally enployed by a group based upon the ACLU).

Politics and cultural issues aside, the books make me crave to know what exactly are angels and demons. I mean, here in reality, are they beings or metaphor? Do they exist apart from us, or are they facets of us?

I’ve attended lots of churches but never yet gotten a straight answer, at least from the preachers.

Some friends and acquaintances have claimed to know all about angels and demons. I have witnessed and even participated efforts to exorcise evil spirits. About therapy, meditation, yoga and other such practices, I’ve heard, from Christians, all kinds of advice and arguments, pro and con.

But I can’t remember a church taking a firm stand on any of these issues that Peretti takes on.

No matter whether I believe his themes and characters are soundly based in reality or if I consider him a screwball, I admire him for stepping into an area of inquiry churches appear reluctant to enter.

Which leads me to believe more strongly than ever that the world needs writers who will, like Peretti, cut loose and share their opinions in story form, thereby nourishing the imaginations of us readers.

About Peretti in particular: I only hope he believes what he preaches. The Bible warns of serious consequences in store for liars, right?

I mean, as Dorothy Salisbury Davis wisely wrote, “Don’t sell your soul for peanuts to feed the monkeys.”