Eden Restored: How Story Will Save Us All

A good friend of mine asked me to write a short post for his blog, and I have included the link here. I hope you all enjoy!

I recently spoke with someone who mentioned that one of her friends does not encourage her children to “play pretend” or involve themselves in any sort of imaginary world. Inviting small children to imagine, she explained, inhibits them from readily acknowledging and confessing what is true. She believed a strong and healthy imagination in her […]

via Guest Post: Eden Restored: How Story Will Save Us All — Chris Weatherly

Created to Create

The following is an article I wrote on creativity in writing and Christian education originally published on Landmark Christian School’s blog.

old typewriter (focus on text)In Ephesians 5:1, Paul instructs his fellow believers to “be imitators of God as dearly loved children.” Therefore, as followers of Christ and His Word, our first duty in following this command must be to determine, “Well, what is God like?” In opening the Bible, then, to discover the character of God through His revelation in Scripture, we should note the first description we stumble upon: “In the beginning, God created…”

The human capacity for creativity, wonder, and imagination is not only a gift from God to bring Him glory through wholehearted expression and majestic praise but also a mandate; just as the Creator was creative in the design of all things, so must His creation be creative as a way of magnifying Christ through imitating God. When God fashioned Adam from little turrets of dirt and the swirling breath of life, He was not merely stirring human history into existence; He was training us in the way we should perpetuate human history. God, the Grand Storyteller, taught His characters how to tell stories. God revealed the essence of His divinity by sparking divinity in our first family and threading that divinity through thousands of years of plot. When we thus breathe life into the skin of our own protagonists and bid them walk among us in our fictions, when we strain courageously to perfect our poetic effort, when we sing glorious harmonies of praise in reverberating cathedrals, we come as close to the wild invention of God as our finitude allows. We press toward godliness. We imitate God.

This truth is compounded as Paul exhorts us in another letter that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10). It is notable that the Greek word rendered as “workmanship” here in Ephesians is poiema, from which we can clearly see our English word poem. So, we are, quite truly, the poetry of God, created in the loving care of a master wordsmith. We are a robust, abundant, vibrant kaleidoscope of God’s artistic pleasure, penned with brilliant passion, and when He “saw all that He had made, [He declared] it was very good” (Gen. 1:31, emphasis added).

So, since the poetry and creativity of God is rich and imaginative, we must see that the education of our next generation is not simply a means of hardwiring them for social contribution but a full-throated movement to awaken their wonder, to intensify their desire for truth, goodness, and beauty and, from that desire, to pursue creatively the worship of a glorious God. We must train our students to express themselves well, to write with passion and authority, but, more importantly, we must teach them to approach their individual calling, whatever it may be, with godly creativity – that, whatever they do, they do it with all their heart unto the Lord (Col. 3:23). We cannot be in the business of piling young people onto the conveyer belt to college, cookie-cutting them into monochrome caricatures of human beings. They are the living, breathing poetry of God, descendants of the very dust and bone of Eden, with voices and diverse passions. By teaching them to think creatively not only in a Creative Writing elective but also in math, science, physical fitness, history, and athletics, we are raising them to imitate God in all His multifaceted character.

As educators, we recognize not every student is called to a writing career. However, the world needs businessmen and bakers, mechanics and managers, and my prayer is that we provide it with Christian graduates that, like Daniel, rise to the top of their field for the excellent spirit within them. But the world certainly cannot bear the weight of any more graduates who shuffle through life bored and half-asleep. As Douglas Wilson once quipped, we cannot live in a world where “the bland lead the bland.” Creative thinking and creative writing are essential tools not only to our scholarship but to our souls. Creativity is the signature of God on the well-rounded human being, fully equipped to navigate a broken and creaking world with the fire of a full imagination.

May we all learn to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). May we raise (and be) a generation that sees the glory of God in all things, that creatively expresses His praise in every word with plenty of color and sonorous splendor. May we truly absorb the words of John Piper:

 “[W]hen a person speaks or writes or sings or paints about breathtaking truth in a boring way, it is probably a sin. The supremacy of God in the life of the mind is not honored when God and his amazing world are observed truly, analyzed duly, and communicated boringly. Imagination is the key to killing boredom. We must imagine ways to say truth for what it really is. And it is not boring. God’s world – all of it – rings with wonders. The imagination calls up new words, new images, new analogies, new metaphors, new illustrations, new connections to say old, glorious truth. Imagination is the faculty of the mind that God has given us to make the communication of his beauty beautiful.”

A Person’s a Person

sneetches4-2bxxd4z_categoryAt the time this goes to print, I am substituting for our 6th grade English teacher during her after-lunch period. Needless to say, I am seated at a desk covered with brightly-colored supplies, trays full of classwork, and a beautiful, stately globe.

I am also surrounded by a wriggling bundle of 11-year-olds.

As they fidget, giggle, or pray frantically that God will intervene and provide them the right answer on their vocabulary quiz, I watch as they hurriedly scribble down their responses with determination and delicate care. Some twiddle their pencils, some bite their lips, and some (inevitably) need to go to the bathroom.

Yet, it is not the nervous energy and dangling legs that strikes me. It is the slow realization that I am in the company of a violinist, a lawyer, an insurance agent, a CEO, an actress, an Olympic gold-medalist, a deacon, a coach, a senator, a mother of four, and a city planner. These untied shoelaces and awkward braces adorn the feet and faces of the future, a brave new world that has yet to take form.

I am reminded of Dr. Seuss’ wonderful line from Horton Hears a Who:

“A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Perhaps now, more than ever, such a truth must be recalled and placed center stage in our culture, particularly given the horrendous onslaught of abortion statistics and the CMP videos. However, we must also turn our attention to the positive affirmation behind Seuss’ line. We are in the business of raising a generation of men and women, little persons, who are destined to pick up our torches and carry on with our different tasks, passions, and missions. Like the steady corrosion of Ozymandias’ visage, we are limited to a mere season of influence and opportunity; these little ones will one day pass by our monuments, and the Earth will continue to orbit the sun long after we have gone.

What matters is how we pay the right sort of attention to these people and train them up in the way they should go. And that certainly does not mean we ignore them or indulge them. A person’s a person. We must challenge, discipline, encourage, instruct, support, and inspire them. They are people, called to the work of the LORD, a work that will progress long after we have drawn our last breaths. Let the coal touch their lips and send them into this wide, wide world full of passion and adventure.

Oh, the places they’ll go.

Pollute the Shadows

While attending the ACCS conference in Dallas, I was quite struck Thursday morning by a powerful quote from N.D. Wilson that was referenced during an early plenary session. As it regards the nature of the world around us and our task to engage with that world armed to the teeth, I thought it appropriate to include here:

“The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not try to pretend there is no danger. Train them. Give them sharp eyes and bellies full of laughter. Make them dangerous. Make them yeast, and when they’ve grown, they will pollute the shadows.”

-N.D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World