Structure is what we think of. How something is constructed. The formula is applied and the form is made.
This is understood. This is quantifiable. This is a known, safe method to creation.
But then there’s that other world.
Mt. Hermon conference was great, as usual. If you allow it, things happen there that can change you. A brief vision of a deeper space glimmers open before you, among the pillars of trees, the canopy of branches. You walk along in a different light and time and space converge into something resembling deep meaning. You were meant to come here. You were meant to be a part of this.
Of course, it’s not about you. You may know some things, some thoughts to apply. You may come expecting something nonspecific and ill-defined. But you will leave with far bigger fantasies of your purpose in responding to it all. If you could only find the words…
The first evening, I sat and listened to Dick Foth. His insights matched my experience at the conference so insanely, I’m not able to talk about it yet, but that first night he shared the difference between Coke and water. Seems pretty obvious, and it is. But the real difference is in how you interpret the value of Coke, the value of water. Some people, maybe many, prefer Coke. It’s got this fascinating formula, and highly (famously) protected. But as Dick points out, it’s sweetness is toxic and will, over time, eventually kill you. Water it down and it won’t kill you quite as fast, but it still won’t refresh as well as just water. So why do so many seem to prefer the syrupy, sparkly toxin?
Of course, I love Coke too, so don’t miss the metaphor here. But up in the woods I experienced a shift, one of several really, in how I think about the coming revolution I once opined upon at great length in the early days of this blog (check the sidebar). I didn’t know it was coming, not really. I hoped, but it wasn’t like now. Now I know. Not long now, and we’ll be experiencing a major resurgence of "water over Coke." I’m not going to define that any more specifically because I can’t, but those who have ears to hear, listen up. It used to seem so uncertain, like you didn’t want to actually name it unless it might skitter off. I spent a lot of time defining it, looking for evidence, hoping and dreaming. I spent time defending it against criticisms. It’s easy for critics to see this shift in the books we enjoy as a "watering down" of the core Christian message. And yet what do we do to wean people off of Coke? How will they develop a taste for just water?
Think about that. "Come to me all you who are thirsty and I will give you drink…. "Living water that you might thirst no more."
Former CBA chairman Steve Adams said recently to the ECPA that changing lives through Christian materials was “more likely to occur in a Christian retail store than an outlet in any other channel, because this is the one that best integrates like-minded people in a common mission.” Get that? The way I hear that is unless writers, editors, and publishers offer just water along with Coke, we may not have this influence much longer. Certainly, we need excellence at every level. But that’s just part of it. We also need to be providing a whole spectrum of books that reach people with all different tastes.
Overall, what we’re hoping for is a united effort among writers and publishers to accept the myriad different opportunities available to us in reaching beyond our former restrictions. We need people who are awake and already making the connections between what is and what could be. We need people who aren’t afraid of the inherent risks involved for people of faith, willing to stretch beyond the safe boundaries to try something new. And above all, we need to be seeking the source of that inspiration in the living water, crafting works that have no place in the current market…but will.
This is how you escape the addiction to formula. This is formless freedom. For the change in my outlook and how I approach this challenge I have countless people to thank, but on my mind just now it’s Madison Richards, as well as Jim Rubart and Jen McCarthy. All of you are amazing.
So anyway…who else could go for a nice cold Coke right about now?