Guest Blogger: Mark Adair
A couple of weeks ago we had some rousing discussions about the purpose of “Christian” publishing and the existence of CBA. Writer Mark Adair wrote the following and I resonated so much with what he said that I wanted to share it with you.
A few years ago, my wife Stacy and I visited the U.K. There is a pub in Oxford called “Eagle and Child” that was frequented by Lewis, Tolkien, and the rest of the Inklings. They nicknamed it the “Bird and Baby.” Sitting in one of the bland, brown, beat up, wooden booths once inhabited by quite possibly the most brilliant collective creative genius of any era, I could barely contain myself. I’m pretty sure I actually became smarter as I enjoyed an ale with my wife. I still have the T-shirt.
Anyway, the CBA questions were running around my brain this morning and I remembered my visit to Oxford and the authors that frequented the tiny pub. It occurred to me that they lived and wrote in a pre-CBA world. Their fiction works have influenced our world and peoples in wonderful ways that we may never fully comprehend, and continue to do so long after their deaths. God has blended much of what I’ve seen in the worlds and persons they created into my relationship with Him. At the risk of sounding like an ego-maniac, I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I want to do what they did.
I want to be a vessel of God’s love and truth and beauty and creative wonder that transcends the CBA/ABA discussion. As a writer and as an individual, I want to be part of His paradigm-breaking process that continues all day, every day. I don’t want to attempt to confine His amazing and transcendent person and ways into the 4-spiritual-laws or a strict conservative, evangelical conversion experience. I do value those, but it can be suffocating without a bigger context. Each moment lived is chock full of His passionate revealing and pursuing of me, you, our neighbor, and even our enemies. I believe living a creative life is a way of connecting with His revealing and pursuing…evangelism at its finest. It is when I’m a part of His creating and connecting with others who are creating (in whatever forms) that I know He is alive and that I’m really like Him…made in His image.
Now, I don’t believe the CBA world suffocates, but it has created a schism in my writing process that conflicts with or confuses my creative freedoms. It’s one to thing to be sensitive to a reader and his/her particular religious or non-religious paradigm, but it’s another to add a publishing paradigm that seems to require adherence to a semi-arbitrary set of rules. That’s what goes through my mind when I put on my writer hat. On the other hand, the CBA publishing community certainly has the right to do whatever they want to do; it is their money, their sandbox. In addition, I can make the case that the Christian reading community might want a safe sandbox to play in – the CBA.
To return to my original statement and desire: I want to do what they did and create works that transcend the CBA/ABA discussion. However, in the world we live in, I have to earn that freedom/permission. In between now and the time where my success has earned me the right to discard some of the rules that make my writing life more complicated, I understand and embrace my lowly place. I really do. After all, serving is what we do and servants are who we are. Ultimately, I want to connect with people. I want them to see that God is real and know His love right in the midst of their struggles. Everyone needs to know that and experience it – christians and non-christians. I need to know that; I need to experience it. So, whatever form that takes at this point in my writing journey is fine with me. Whatever hoops I have to jump through, rules to follow, toilets to clean, I’m up for it. As long as I get to do it with Him and connect with people, it’s all good, right?