Everybody’s a “Creative”: A Rabbit Room Rant

By

This is a transcript of my opening remarks at Hutchmoot 2011, revised slightly to work as a post here. In case the spirit of the thing comes across as actual irritation, let me say that this is intended to be good-natured ranting, if there is such a thing. I have a lot of friends who use the terminology I’m poking fun at, and the last thing I want is to make enemies. This is just me raising my hand from the back of the class to ask if there’s a better way to think about the subject. –The Proprietor


Allow me to kick off Hutchmoot 2011 with a complaint.

Many of you have heard of “verbing”: the practice of using a noun as a verb. The very word “verbing” is a case in point. Other examples: friend, spam, and Google. You “table” a discussion. Concerts get “booked.” I get it. Language is a fluid thing, and part of the beauty of it is the way it changes with the times. Still, as Calvin said to Hobbes, “Verbing weirds language.”

Allow me to dialogue a little more with you about it. (See what I did there?)

There’s another word that’s popped up recently, and every time I’ve heard it or read it I’ve had some kind of reaction. It’s not a noun that’s been verbed—rather, it’s an adjective that’s been nouned. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I just verbed the adjective-ing of “noun,” and in this very sentence verbed “adjective” too.

Nouning verbs is a little more difficult, but it happens every time I go on a “run.” It happened a few minutes ago when I stood in line for Evie’s cooking. I thought to myself, “Gimme some eats.” And Evie, in a brazen case of verbing two nouns and employing  two nouned adjectives, with some hyperbole thrown in, likely thought to herself, “If Andrew comes back for thirds I’m going to fork him in the innards, and he won’t stomach that for a second.”

I’m certain that made no sense. Let me be clear: this phenomenon is nothing new, nor is it wrong. Again, it’s one of the things I love about language. But let me get to the point. The word I’m talking about, the one that galls me a little, is this: “creative.” I keep hearing people refer to themselves not as creative but as creatives. As in, “I’m a creative who works in the ministry,” or on the occasional Twitter bio, “I’m a wife, a mother, and a creative living in Punxatawney, PA.” I’m sure some of you are in this room, and that’s fine. But let me push back just a little, lest this “creatives” thing get out of hand.

I think what folks are trying to say is that they’re especially creative people, that they aspire to live a life of creativity, or perhaps to pursue a career in some artistic field. They believe themselves to be wired differently than normal people. To be honest, the first few times I heard someone describe themselves that way I thought it was kind of cool. I thought to myself, “Ooh, I want to be a Creative. Where do I sign up?”

What that tells me now is that there’s a sense of membership involved with the word, as if a new inner ring had been created, and I was outside of it. All I had to do to enter was to casually refer to myself and my friends as “creatives,” and I could be one too. A line had been drawn, and I wanted to cross it. It was just one more case, in my heart at least, of wishing I could sit at the cool table in the school cafeteria.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with naming. When my brother Pete first moved back to Nashville a few years ago, he hadn’t finished The Fiddler’s Gun yet, and was living in a fifth-wheel RV in my neighbor’s driveway. We can laugh about it now because, as many of you know, he was miraculously married a few weeks ago. But at the time, he was suffering from a degree of identity crisis and wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing with his life. We went to lunch with Russ Ramsey and Randy Draughon, two pastors at Midtown Fellowship, and Randy asked Pete, “So what do you do?” Pete poked his fork at his quesadilla for a moment, then said, “I have no idea. I’m just trying to find my way.”

That’s a fair answer. I think that’s true of all of us, to some degree. But I interjected, “He’s a writer. An excellent writer. He’s finishing up his first book.” Later that day we sat in the roach-infested RV and talked about this very subject. I told him something I learned from Annie Dillard’s book The Writing Life, and from many of my friends here in Nashville: if you’re going to be a writer, you have to make some changes. You have to order your life around the idea that you write. You adjust your paradigm. You fine-tune the way you see the world, the way you move through your days. You’re a writer, and that means you have to start paying attention–it also means you have to get to work. If you ask many Nashvillians what they do, they’ll tell you without batting an eye that they’re songwriters. Or they’re record producers, or authors. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s their full-time job. But in some measure it’s a way they spend their time, and maybe even make some money. I’d bet that in the beginning, most of them felt a little sheepish describing themselves as songwriters. But eventually, if you stick to it, and you’re adept enough for people to pay you to do it, you give up the fight and admit the truth: you’re a writer.

I encouraged Pete to overcome his fear of pretentiousness and start answering the question “What do you do?” with “I’m a writer.” Or at least, “I want to be a writer.” It’s important to pursue the outworking of your gift with intentionality and diligence. When I was growing up I would never have imagined that a regular person could actually become a novelist, or a film director, or a guitar player. Those careers were reserved for people of privilege, or at least people who knew some Great Secret that I didn’t. The only secret there is to know isn’t a secret at all: it takes a lot of work. Even then, it takes the miracle of Christian community to help you distinguish between your dreams and your gifting. My dream in high school was to pencil Batman comics. It wasn’t my gifting, though. I’m not saying God couldn’t have used me somehow had I doggedly pursued a job at DC Comics. But even though I love to draw and hope to grow as an illustrator, it couldn’t be clearer to me that my gift is very different from that dream to draw.

But there’s a difference between saying that you’re a writer or artist or musician and calling yourself a Creative. One answer tells us what you do, the other makes a claim about who you are. To say that you’re a songwriter implies, “I’m a person who writes songs.” To say that I’m a Creative implies, “I’m different than normal people. I’m a thing that you are not. I’m a creative person. You’re an uncreative person. No offense, man. It’s just the way I was awesomely made.” Now, I’m not saying that’s exactly what’s in the heart of everyone who calls themselves by that name–just me. I know my heart well enough to see how easily I could end up there. And eventually I’d find myself surrounded by a bunch of people who are just as pretentious as I am.

Now my annoyance is showing.

My point is this: we’re all creative. Tolkien coined the word subcreator. Some of you have likely heard me or someone else talk about that idea, but it bears repeating. He said, “We make in the manner in which we were made.” To put it another way, we serve a Creator, with a capital C. One of the ways in which we’ve been made in his image is that we also delight in creating. Everything we make is derivative and secondary, and in some manner draws attention to the primary creation, the truth, and the Creator himself. That means everyone on earth could justly label themselves a Creative. That means that even if you don’t wear hipster glasses, skinny jeans, and have Justin Bieber hair, you’re a Creative. It means that even if you’re a banker, a produce manager, or a doctor you’re a Creative. So allow me to reclaim that hijacked adjective, for the good of the world. None of us in this room is a Creative. But all of us are creative.

What that means is this: the Rabbit Room isn’t just for authors. It’s not just for writers or artists or musicians. It’s for people who love the arts, good stories, and fellowship, or maybe it’s for people who carry a great longing that feels like loneliness but is in truth the God-given ache that calls you home. I have a theory, friends, that that means the Rabbit Room is for every person. You may have come here without knowing why. You’re welcome here. You may, like me, feel uncomfortable at conferences. You’re welcome here. You may in fact be an artist of some kind. You’re welcome. All manner of Christian denominations are represented here. You’re welcome. Some of you may be struggling with mighty doubts. You’re welcome. Some of you may refer to yourselves as Creatives. You’re welcome, too. Seriously.

We have never wanted the Rabbit Room to be an esoteric place. We’ve never wanted our conversations to be stuffy or eccentric. That isn’t to say there’s no place for big ideas and brainy people to study them. But I want the Rabbit Room to be incarnational. That means that it is, hopefully, a place where big ideas take on flesh and descend to mingle with fishermen and tax collectors and prostitutes and tentmakers—with normal folks like you and me. Our heads may be in the clouds, but our feet are on solid ground. People talk a lot about the intersection of faith and art. I want Hutchmoot to be about the intersection of faith and dinner. Or the intersection of faith and laughter. Or maybe the intersection of faith and frustration–or what about the intersection of faith and intense, debilitating, soul-crushing doubt. How about that? What about the intersection of time and eternity? What about a three-point intersection of faith and art and the smell of used books?

One of the things I loved most about Hutchmoot last year was that none of us had any idea what was about to happen. This isn’t a workshop. We’re not here to evaluate your works. We’re here to hang out, and to talk, and to see what happens at the intersection of faith and folks like us.

So this place is for lovers of good stories, good art, good songs, good food, and good conversation. I happen to think everyone on earth falls into that category. Not just Creatives. Tolkien described our creations as lights refracted from God, the pure and ultimate light:

Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
Through whom is splintered from a single White
To many hues, and endlessly combined
In living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
With Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
And sowed the seed of dragons, ’twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we’re made.

Our hope is that in this incarnation of the virtual community in the Rabbit Room, the eyes of your hearts shine bright with the hope to which you’re called, that this weekend you would know with all of the saints, the height, the depth, the width, and the length of the love of God, whose earth is spilling over not just with his own creatures, but with men and women endowed with his image, scampering about like children on a playground, unable to help themselves from speaking into being these many lesser lights–lesser, but no less the Lord’s. So as we delight in these lesser lights, let us remember the Creator, to whom we owe our thanks, our deepest praise, our adoration, our admiration, and our allegiance.

Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


76 Comments

  1. Jud

    Got a little misty-eyed reading this, and that’s not a bad thing. Thanks Andrew. And now I’m yearning even more for this year’s gathering.

  2. rcjr

    Great piece, great point, and all well said. That said, I believe the word we are looking for in noting that we all have this calling, and that there is but one Creator, that is a noun that knows its place, is Creature.

  3. Debra Henderson

    I was terrified to be in the room last year, especially on that first night. I knew I had received an invitation still I feared at any moment someone would discover me as a fraud and cast me out, but I longed to stay…

    You sharing this made me weep in the best possible way. It made me feel truly welcomed even in all my awkwardness. The loving inclusiveness of your words was/is beautiful. Thank you feels so inadequate, yet is heartfelt – Thank you Andrew!

  4. Whit

    I’m both a writer and a musician professionally, but with every day, I feel more and more isolated in my work from the “creatives” I see controlling the conversation in my Twitter feed. I needed this.

  5. Beth

    This was really interesting for me to read since I work in an advertising agency. The term “creative” is universally known as anyone who sits on one half of the office and has a title such as copywriter, art director, designer, etc. While there’s nothing wrong with the evolution of that term, a lot of what you said hit home with how the word “creative” causes implications that make the lowly account service folks feel uncreative. Thanks for this post!

  6. April Pickle

    Would you believe my husband just asked me what I am doing, and I replied that I am “Rabbit Rooming?” No joke.
    I’m grossly lacking the right words here, but I feel the post gives me some liberty to comment anyway! I’ll join Jud in saying that I got misty-eyed. Actually, large, rain-drop-eyed. And that was before you even got to your point. And I had never even heard anyone refer to himself as a “creative!” There is a grace emanating from this post that I deem to be, well, Grace.
    I am grateful beyond words that my daughter who writes and longs for Home is going to Hutchmoot, and grateful beyond words for this forum called The Rabbit Room, which made today’s post a reality to me the day that it posted a football photo on the very day that N.T. Wright was your guest. Talk about “incarnational!”

  7. Dustin M. Smith

    Hey Andrew- you and I had a brief conversation a year or so ago in Charlotte, about Ritter’s The Bone of Song and about the creative process in general. I was asking if you thought people ‘create’ or ‘discover’.

    Anyways, I’m pretty sure you mentioned the notion of sub-creators back then, but it must not have sunk in at the time because, reading it now, I think I’m starting to understand it. I love the way Tolkien described it. The idea of so many colors being contained inside of a single white light is very beautiful.

    (Sorry for not staying around after the concert, by the way. I got your message but had to leave.)

  8. Aaron

    I am a writer.

    It feels good and a little weird to write that. Or to word that, as long as we’re nouning.

    I am a worder.

    Thank-you for the admonishmenting. I have some things to brain about and prayer through.

  9. Julie Silander

    Andrew – Thank you. I came last-minute and a day late to Hutchmoot, so I missed this talk. I missed the talk, but the message was lived out in the people – in the hallway conversations and in developing relationships. I’d add that it permeates the culture of the Rabbit Room in posts and comments as well.

    I also love snippet of Pete’s story. There are no doubt times that we are certain of our calling. But, I wonder how rich life could be if we humbly approached the journey with an “I’m just making my way” mindset. I hope you keep telling that story. What a picture.

    For those who haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to watch Mako’s embedded commencement address “What do you want to make today?”

    http://greenertrees.net/2012/06/13/dna/

    I’m deeply grateful for your vision and encouragement. Thank you.

  10. Dan Kulp

    Thanks for the post. some big british dude that I’m fond of said:
    “God is that which can make something out of nothing. Man (it may truly be said) is that which can make something out of anything. In other words, while the joy of God must be unlimited creation, the special joy of man is limited creation, the combination of creation with limits.”

  11. Colleen

    Sure wish Hutchmoot was for “everybody”. . .it sounds amazing. But when it sells out in 7 minutes, that says to me that it’s for a bunch of insiders, for those “in the know” 🙁

  12. Loren Warnemuende

    “Hello, my name is Loren and I am a writer.” (…And an artist, and a homemaker, and a cook….)

    Phew! It feels good to say that openly. And do you know? When my kids get older I really don’t want to go back to work, if work means sitting in an office all day or even teaching a bunch of high school kids (which I did with limited success). What I really want to do is write, and paint, and garden, and cook, and share those loves with friends. I pray God will show me how I can best do that.

  13. Profile photo of Jonathan Rogers

    Jonathan Rogers

    @jonathanrogers

    I got to Hutchmoot a little late last year (broken down car, had to get a ride, long story), so I missed not only this talk but also all the ensuing inside jokes regarding “creatives.” I now feel caught up and back on the inside.

    But more to the point, this is a beautiful welcome, Andrew, and one we should all be extending to everyone in every corner of our lives.

  14. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Colleen,

    I’m sorry to hear that we’ve come across to you like that. The reality is that we’re limited by space, by time, by money, by energy, and by a desire to be as fair and inclusive as possible. Last year we opened registration without anyone being aware of when we would do so. The result was that many people were upset that they weren’t lucky enough to have checked the website in the brief six hour window before the event sold out. This year we tried to amend that by letting everyone know exactly when registration would be available. We wanted to put everyone on an even playing field. The result is that the event sold out in seven minutes. In fact it went WAY beyond selling out. We sold nearly twice as many tickets as we had intended to. And because we want to be inclusive, we’re going out of our way to expand the event and accomodate everyone that registered rather than have to turn people away.

    I really do wish we could host everyone that wanted to come, but we simply aren’t able. There’s always next year 🙂

  15. Bryana Johnson

    This.

    “When I was growing up I would never have imagined that a regular person could actually become a novelist, or a film director, or a guitar player. Those careers were reserved for people of privilege, or at least people who knew some Great Secret that I didn’t. The only secret there is to know isn’t a secret at all: it takes a lot of work.”

    I hear it all the time: compliments regarding writing/art/poetry which imply that the observer has put an artist in a different class from themselves — someone just “awesomely made” (as Andrew so delightfully put it) to be different and to be a creator. And this is simply a lie, and one that has stopped short the talents and the potential of many people who labor under the mistaken impression that some people come out of the womb with a paintbrush in their hands and others won’t ever learn to draw a straight line.

    Thanks for sharing, Andrew!

  16. Renee

    I am in the stage of distinguishing between my dreams and my gifting. Thank you for making me feel welcome. It seems the more that I come back to the Rabbit Room, the more that I want to come back.

    I am really starting to like it around here.

  17. Tina

    Thank you. I was beginning to feel like an eavesdropper when I read this blog, but now I don’t. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Kathleen

    I stumbled into the Rabbit Room sometime last year in the midst of an internet search for someone writing about Christianity and imagination – preferably C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien. As neither of the above were direct contributors to this particular website, I was about to continue on my way, when I saw that the latest article was written by Jason Gray. I had recently bought “Everything Sad is Coming Untrue,” after loving “More Like Falling in Love” on the radio, and was entirely wrecked by the album (in the best possible way). So I stuck around and started poking my way through the Rabbit Room, discovering this community of creative “people who carry a great longing that feels like loneliness but is in truth the God-given ache that calls you home.” And here I had been thinking I was the only one!

    I have learned much from peeking into the Rabbit Room. My journey of faith over the last year has involved quite a bit of wrestling with a runaway imagination I struggle to give God control of, and He has used the Rabbit Room to give me a more truth-shaped perspective on creativity. I am grateful to the Creator God who made us all in His image, and as such made us subcreators who reflect Him, and for this place where anyone – official “Creative” or not – can talk about the deep importance of this. I am grateful for this place (/website/community) “for lovers of good stories, good art, good songs, good food, and good conversation.” Grateful for good conversations like this one. (Grateful for the grace, hopefully, given to me when my first comment turns into a mini-rant…)

  19. Jaclyn

    This article encapsulates exactly why I first came to the Rabbit Room, and why I’ve never since left. I so appreciate everyone here and the God who’s brought us together.

  20. Amanda

    The beauty of this message is it’s source. I so admire you, AP, though I imagine your humble response would not surprise.
    I don’t feel entitled to call myself a Creative, but from the beauty I see through those brave enough to consider themselves artists and storytellers and the like, I do feel brave enough to sit down at the piano and plunk around. Or I might pen a short devotional. All the while, I feel like a kid playing with play-dough. But, that’s good. When I take myself too seriously, I fall a little.
    It truly is a gift from the Creator to have the desire to make. Thanks!

  21. Jazz

    i love being creative! creativity is one of the confuzzling things God made.
    when you go into creating something not knowing how it will turn out, and it becomes something really awesome and inspiring.

  22. Mike

    I’m just wondering when Hutchmoot will go on the road. Atlanta would be a heck of a place to hold one.

  23. Alex

    I really appreciated this blog. Especially the bit about the Rabbit Room being a place for faith and dinner/laughter/doubt/loneliness. I’m drawn to communities and people that bring faith and grace into contact with every area of their lives and when that genuinely happens it looks a lot like art.

  24. HAN HUTCHMOOT

    This was great Andrew. Wonderful.

    That is a good point by Colleen. I, like I’m sure hundreds of others, would like to come to one of these things. But if it does sell out this quickly then it simply isn’t big enough. Growth people! Expand people! All of this I mean in a nice way of course.

  25. Amy L

    My husband and I troll around this site all the time, though we rarely say much. But what we love about it is that it makes us feel so normal. So many of our friends who would likely call themselves “creatives” don’t seem as interested in the process of creating or the self-reflection that ought to go with it. So when we talk about a song we’re working on (or whatever), they think it’s weird that we don’t just finish it and move on. As though we’re not sufficiently creative if we can’t get it perfect on the first shot. But here, there’s lots of conversations about the writing and creating process, and the fears and joys that go with it. It helps us believe that maybe we’re not so crazy.

    We’d love to go to Hutchmoot one day, too. Maybe in 2013 you’ll have more space, or you can have multiple sessions. Or you can have a “spaces available for people who wanted to go to 2012 but couldn’t get in” special.

  26. Lydia

    Ok now to give all my comments:
    #1–I got VERY confused in all of those “verbings?”
    #2–“he was miraculously married a few weeks ago” that gave me a gooder laugh than I’ve had in a while (see what I did there?!?! hehe)
    #3–You can write comics!! You can make a “Wingfeather Saga” comic strip!!
    #4–“esoteric” what does that mean anyway? (googling it!!)
    #5–LOVE this line, especially the ending “I’m different than normal people. I’m a thing that you are not. I’m a creative person. You’re an uncreative person. *No offense, man. It’s just the way I was awesomely made.*”
    #6–for closers this line was the best!! “So as we delight in these lesser lights, let us remember the Creator, to whom we owe our thanks, our deepest praise, our adoration, our admiration, and our allegiance.”

    Thanks AP!! I always enjoy reading your posts!! (and your books!!)

    p.s. it is impossibler for me to use just one exclamation point than it is for me to use one question mark!! 😀

  27. Josh Kemper

    The grammar is complicated. If you use “to” before it, it’s an infinitive, right? Like, “I’m going to friend John as soon as I finish this post”. But it’s a gerund if you use “ing”, as in “I’m friending him right now”. I wouldn’t know this if my wife weren’t a language arts teacher, who happens to love rules. I’m kind of the exact opposite. But this is admittedly the most shallow part of the discussion.

  28. Jill

    whew. This post comes as such a relief to me. I’ve been reading all along… but kind of felt like an outsider.
    I’m certainly not a Creative and some of the posts are ‘above my head’, and some of the contributers make me yawn… :-)…. but I can’t seem to stay away.
    Posts like this remind me why I continue to visit the Rabbit Room.
    thanks 🙂

  29. James Witmer

    Well, late to the comment party, but thanks for this, Andrew. You put into words what I’ve felt/suspected about this place, and why I keep coming back and leaving comments.

    I appreciate the reminder that naming is important. I, like others here, often lack the courage to take a name. (And I’ve spent many years learning the difference between dreams and gifting. “Huge rock’nroll act” is NOT one of my names, in case you wondered.)

    But your insistence that we are all creative, and that the best creativity happens at the intersection of faith and dinner, and faith and frustration, describes perfectly what I cling to as a member of a very small church full of people who are not like me. Entrepreneurs. Physical therapists. General contractors. We need to treasure our differences, to see the worship in sub-creation of all kinds.

    But a place like the Rabbit Room also helps ease the few bits of loneliness that aren’t actually the longing for home.

  30. James Witmer

    PS: Does anyone else think we need some kind of web-app for finding concentrations of RR readers? Seems like it would make planning auxiliary Hutchmoots (if any) and even hosting shows for RR artists, much easier and less like shooting in the dark.

    Not that I have the technical capacity to do such a thing.

    Oh, and if there ever are any auxiliary Hutchmoots, as a resident of PA I call dibs on the title Hutchmoot – North, or be Eaten

  31. livingoakheart

    More often than not, I choose not to comment here because I fear that what I have to say is small–revealing of the poorness of my own creative efforts. I feel that I am the least member of the inner circle of creativity, able to listen, but not speak. This post spoke to me.

  32. Jeff Dolan

    Thanks for writing this. You make some great points you don’t often hear in the blogosphere around “creatives.” You have definitely reframed my thinking on this topic. Awesome.

  33. Ben Humeniuk

    Andrew,

    I’ll draw you a Batman picture if you draw me one.

    Side note to all the Rabbit Room: comics are where some real ranting’s at. You would not believe how passionate 20 to 40 year-old men get about superheroes and the stories that concern them. That’s an industry that strongly needs redemptive works dropped in. I’d love to see a believer make a splash in that arena.

  34. Chris C

    Thanks for this, Andrew. I haven’t been visiting the Rabbit Room much lately. I decided to read this. Not sure why. It made the pools well up in my eyes. Why? That’s a good question. I’m not sure I should even speculate on that, which is rather odd for me, a person who is very analytical on everything.

    Thank you for “pushing back”. Thank you for seeing the giftedness that God gives to all of us. We are all His creation and made in His image. We all live and move and have our being through Him. And for those of us that share in the enjoyment of authors like Lewis, MacDonald, Tolkien, and the like are not a different breed of people. We just happen to share the same likes. If we travel to the far ends of the Earth, we will never reach a person who doesn’t have in himself or herself the seeds of creativity.

    And thank you for your description of what we mean when we say writer or author or songwriter. The things we sow towards and work on. And of course, more importantly, what is it we, as Christians really want to reap? We want to love more. We want to have a more steadfast faith. We want more of our anger and selfishness to be held at bay. Hang our writing and singing and playing if we don’t draw closer to Jesus. Our creative works will be nothing but clanging symbols if they are our biggest priority.

    Anyway. Thanks again, Andrew. I’ve been encouraged.

  35. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Thanks AP. Also, “I’m a creative” is very nebulous and ethereal but it has no real content. “You’re a creative? What do you create?” “Uh, I don’t know. I am just different.”

    On the other hand, “I’m a writer” or “I’m a banjo player” has content. It means, at least to some extent unless one is totally dishonest, that we are living the writing life or the banjo life or pursuing steps towards the life we proclaim. “I’m a creative” can allow us to live in a false idea of what we are really doing.

    “I’m a writer” or whatnot means that we are making time for writing (or whatnot). I hear this a lot: “I want to play better banjo/guitar/skeeball but I don’t have time.” Well, we all have 24 hrs a day. We make choices as to what to do with it. “I don’t have time” really means, “I am not making it a priority.” Many times this lack of prioritizing our writing or music (etcetera) has nothing to do with the desire within us. A lack of faith in our gifting can kick us in the nether regions and knock the life out of our passion.

    So there. I went on my own rant.

  36. Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

    Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    I’m so glad to read all these comments, folks—especially those of you who haven’t had the courage to post before, or have been away for a while. We don’t always get it right around here, but we’re trying hard to make this place a blessing to whoever stops by.

  37. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Ben H: I don’t read many comics but I do know there are many redemptive themes in Stan Lee’s work. To quote him from his introduction to the anthology of The Silver Surfer: “”Perhaps the Silver Surfer comes closest to being the ultimate, quintessential super hero. The virtue of his character, the purity of his soul, and the nobility of his actions, coupled with the altruism of his motives, are virtually without parallel — unless one returns to the root of all goodness, for only perhaps in the Holy Bible itself does such morality exist.”

    “Look, I know know I’m only talking about a fictitious comic book character. It may seem as if I’m hooked on hyperbole and making the Surfer sound like Joan of Arc’s big brother. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every time I sat down to write one of Norrin Radd’s stirring little sagas, I’d find myself getting totally carried away and writing the events as though they were really happening. I don’t know, perhaps it’s a sort of wish fulfillment. Perhaps it’s because I really believe so deeply in the philosophy and utterances of our shiny-domed crusader. Perhaps it’s because he comes the closest to articulating my own beliefs and convictions. Perhaps, most of all, it’s because, with every word I write, I want to feel that some of this charismatic character’s innate goodness will have an effect on some reader somewhere – and perhaps the power of his own deep-rooted morality and concern for his fellow being will, in some subtle way, help make our own troubled world just a little better for his stories having been told.”

    “But I’d better get off this kick before you start thinking that you’ve picked up some obscure religious tract by accident.”

    “Despite the foregoing, never forget that, first and foremost, the Surfer’s tales are meant to entertain you . . .”

  38. Ben Humeniuk

    Great point, Ron! Stan’s work is highly redemptive and virtue-filled, and his Surfer story ( literally titled “Parable”) with French artist Moebius is outstanding. He’s also quite the creative guy!

    That said, there aren’t many Stans writing these days. A lot of current superhero comics, I wouldn’t care to put in the hands of a grade school boy or girl. There’s a notable amount of gory violence, sex, and nihilism creeping in around the edges. Of course, that’s appealing to an adult audience (DC did a Nielsen survey last year– avg comic reader now is an adult male), but superheroes are an innately child-friendly genre. With all eyes on movies like The Avengers (which was surprisingly family-friendly) or The Amazing Spider-Man, I want to see more subcreators inject redemption into that arena and inspire kids toward a hope that comes from perseverance and character… and our Creator himself.

    We should chat this up more at Hutchmoot. I know like, two Christians who dig comics, so it’d be a blast to expand that circle!

  39. Eowyn

    I’m a writer. Wow. That was liberating. But now I feel like I’ve joined a Writers Anonymous Club.

  40. Jessica

    Thanks for this post. Like many who have already commented, I enjoy this blog so much although I rarely comment too. I’m not very creative at all, but I enjoy, immensely enjoy and have been enriched by, the creativity of others, including those that post on this blog! I appreciate the tone of inclusiveness here. It strikes right at the heart of what should be central to all Christians. For though some are gifted with creativity and some simply enjoy the creativity of others, all are called to love. Love is how we image God; we are sub-lovers too.

  41. Dan R.

    @James Witmer
    I vote yes to pretty much everything you said in your comment. As I recall there was a time, quite a few whiles back, when Pete(?) did a Rabbit Room Reader sound-off kind of post where everyone could leave a comment telling where they were from. And yes, I do think that would be tremendously helpful in planning such things as you mentioned. (incidentally, if there’s anyone else out there looking longingly from the North/East at the Columbus, OH “Leonard” show in September, you’re not alone)

    Also, as a resident of upstate NY, does that mean we get to call Jud’s So-Cal Hutchmoot “On the Edge of a Bright Sea of Brightness”?

  42. Rachel Tiede

    This is the second time I’ve read this one, and will have to read again. It’s so hard to take everything in. (Per Keith Green: “My mind is full of many thoughts that clutter and confuse…”) The times I’ve commented, I’ve come away feeling like maybe I was in a different conversation than everyone else. So if I’m off in left field, will you love me anyway?

    I wrote a song some years ago now based on an invitation posted in a bulletin. The invite was taken from a sign on an old English church door. My favorite was the very last line… “And now, unto whomsoever would come… Come. Come to the Lord.” I so very rarely feel that it is ok for me to come. I think everyone else would be safer if I stayed inside my little hole in the ground. But I want to come. I want to be seen. I want to be known. I want to be loved “good, bad and ugly”. And I am constantly scared… is it ok for me to be here? Am I wanted? Am I seen or understood? Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut… A lot of feelings here…

  43. Rachel Tiede

    By the way…

    To those of you discussing the Comic Book idea… My son (13) is Autistic and I work to communicate with him in any language he understands. When he was little and first obsessing about Super Heroes, I’d have done anything for somebody to draw me a Super Hero Jesus… defeating the powers of death and hell. Just a couple weeks, we had a great conversation (during the sermon… nobody tell the Pastor!!) comparing Satan to Loki in the Avengers. It was the Pastor’s fault! He said something about Satan’s “natural language” being “the language of lies”… and it just worked so well! That was the first sermon my son ever sat through and actually paid attention to the whole thing. (The Darth Vader sound effects at the beginning probably helped, too!) It was the Temptation of Christ. At one point, when Jesus gets a good “zing” in, my son leans over and says… “BOOM!” All that is to say that I’m in favor of the Comic Book concept!

    And to those of you commenting on Hutchmoot… I too long for a Hutchmoot. I’m in Nebraska, which is in the middle, so I’m think I’m perfectly setup for a central location for a Hutchmoot and would be happy to help out as long as I get to go!

    Ok, I’m going back to work now.

  44. April Pickle

    @Rachel. I see you did NOT keep silent. Inthink you just lived out the point of the post! Come, come and welcome. 🙂

  45. Zack

    Amazing. I’ve been waiting for this so I could share it with friends. As many times as I’ve tried to relay what it was you said that day, I’ve been unsuccessful. Thank you for writing and posting it.

  46. Matthew Benefiel

    Ah, write away heart of mine. I read, I watch, I imagine. I put my mental pen to paper, I summon the mood of which I wish to write. I imagine the paper before me and……I have to go downstairs to see if I can somehow produce the design I’ve helped with wishing all the while that I had put pen to paper.

    Sigh…Perhaps tomorrow. But on the morrow I find my brain has wondered too far down paths of design, of mental stress…am I not a writer? Ah…I read a rabbitroom post, the mental juices flow. My mental pen is ready, or my keyboard, I……need to quite writing the comment and pull out my netbook and start chapter….what chapter am I on…oh yes, the one that comes after the last one.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Rabbitroom is all you say and my “want to be a write” will someday become “a writer,” if but a little while longer…or so I say.

  47. Tony Heringer

    Thanks Barliman! Sitting on a Resdince Inn patio here in a northern Baltimore suburb enjoying a post dinner read of the RR. Looking forward to HM2012!

  48. Maddy

    I appreciate that the Rabbit Room is open, that we don’t have to become ‘members’ to stop by and benefit- and then spread the positivity outward, ripple-like.
    However, I do come across this conflict here (or it feels like a conflict to me) in which there is a discussion of inclusiveness and yet boundaries are still drawn around the group. It’s a group which excludes by drawing those boundaries. For example, Andrew writes, “All manner of Christian denominations are represented here,” which definitely feels like an exclusion of other faiths. This sort of line drawing is a little painful for me when I stop by the Rabbit Room as a non-Christian. It says to me that ‘you’re welcome’ only if you’re already a member.
    I wonder if this is a conflict for any of you? I mean, as Christians, do you ever feel the desire to embrace those on the margins, but have to pull back to preserve your own identity?

  49. Laura Peterson

    Hi Maddy,

    I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve been a Rabbit Room reader for a few years now, and I guess I have always assumed (perhaps naively) that most folks who visit here and like it enough to stick around, comment, or maybe attend Hutchmoot, are Christians–after all, there are two pastor contributors, AP and Jason are on a Christian record label, Hutchmoot is held at a church, etc. But, it seems that might not be the case. Perhaps others just assumed the same? I sure do hope this is a place that has a desire to “embrace those on the margins,” as you said. What you said about conflict completely resonates, too. As a Christian, I am called to love my neighbor as myself and be welcoming, but also to be uncompromising in my beliefs. I need other Christians around me to help bear me up through times of trouble, but I also don’t want to put myself in a bubble of people who are just like me. I definitely think this is a tension in the life of every Christian, and none of us get the balance just right all the time. I’m sure other readers would back me up in saying that you ARE welcome! The blogs and comments will keep coming from a Christian perspective–I think many folks here would say that enouragement in the Christian faith is a main reason why they ended up here–but I hope you’ll still feel like a valued member of this community. Stick around. You’re in the club.

  50. Becca

    Fascinating thought, Maddy. Here’s my feeling on it.

    I was an art/lit girl in undergrad, so I have sort of an eclectic group of friends, rooted in a wide span of philosophical, spiritual, and ethical persuasions. We are all very different from one another, but those I enjoy most tend to know (generally) who they are and who they are not. In fact, I find those lines of distinction beautiful, because they allow us all to bump up against one another like purple and yellow or orange and blue in a Degas chalk piece.

    I expect my friends who are agnostic (gay, Hindu, hedonist) to believe their view is truest. That is why they embrace it. And I don’t feel like they are being exclusive when they invite me into conversations with their groups of like-minded friends while they dig deeper into their views. I just feel like they are communing with those who share their beliefs (a fellowship of fellow oranges) instead of hanging out with me (a blue) for a while.

    That they are who they are doesn’t make me feel unwelcome, though at first it’s always a little awkward (I think I need to know they aren’t going to pressure or reject me before I relax fully). Our differences just mean that I’m unique in that particular dynamic. Maybe I’m just weird, but I don’t need those groups to promote my views to feel loved or wanted. I just like being there, accepted as I am, to learn and to listen. Several of those folks have done a fabulous job of bringing me in, even though they knew I wasn’t like them. We’ve just been in community even though we were different.

    That said, I hope you will feel welcome as you are, just as I have felt welcome in those environments. That Christians are posting, commenting, and thinking through issues still leaves room in all of us to love and respect you wherever you are on your journey. Welcome from the oranges to the blue. It’s good to have you here. 🙂

  51. Maddy

    Thanks so much, Laura and Becca, for reading my comment and responding with compassion.
    What does it say about the Rabbit Room when non-Christians lurk about, put their feet up, and hang out too? I think it says that some of the themes presented here are more universally fascinating, that they are not owned by Christians alone, and reaching a broader audience is certainly an opportunity to minister to their hearts. So thanks, for all of that goodness.
    But to answer the question that no one explicitly asked- (why the heck are you here if you are not a Christian?) Where else would I go to discover Artisanal Sharpening, poetry, and Flannery O’Connor all in nifty spot?! ; )

  52. JON SLONE

    Hi Maddy, My name is Jon and I’m a ‘Green’ and I write left-handed and I make people laugh and I don’t know who Flannery O’ Connor is.

  53. Ginger

    In regards to space limitations at Hutchmoot, I speak for myself, but I’d guess there might be others like me who live geographically far from Nashville (blast California!), but would love to be there…

    Would you ever consider offering a subscription to the conference by video feed, or even the sessions taped on DVD — sort of like the Ted Talks?

    I’m sure some of the magic is being physically present, but I’d take what I could get!

  54. Ginger

    In the meantime, LOVE reading these thoughts from previous conferences transcribed and adapted here. I’m with you in heart!

  55. Carolyn

    I love this! It reminds me of Dorothy Sayer’s Mind of the Maker: how creativity is in our very nature as God’s image bearers. One day, we’ll finally make it to a Hutchmoot!

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