Setting ME Free – An Ode to Rumpus Column #82: The God of Doing It Anyway

Lately I’ve been doing a substantial amount of thinking about the changes that are coming over me. Slowly but surely I’m starting to appreciate myself more, becoming increasingly committed to doing what I was meant to do instead of pursuing what other people think count as “wise” career choices.

As I consider this her blog, something’s been nagging at me.

Because honestly? There’s a lot of theological content here, folks.

Often insightful, sometimes cheesy, always me.

At one point I even thought of scrapping my old posts. After all, I figured, I’m too religious for a lot of people.

Yet I’m also too liberal for most religious types.

But the greatest of these is writing, and over the past couple of days I’ve begun to have an epiphany.

One of the reasons that I’ve avoided fully honoring my desire to be a writer is a healthy sense of Good Christian Guilt.

Thankfully, I’m on the road to being cured of that.

Minutes ago at The Rumpus, I read the following letter:

Dear Sugar,

Do you think there will ever be room for me in the art world? I love words, art, culture, ideas, and, most importantly, people. I read The Rumpus every day and my reading list savagely grows with titles I intend to devour. I am planning to go to graduate school within spitting distance of San Francisco because of its amazing literary culture. My dream is to take all the painful, gut-wrenching, soul lifting, breathtaking, fucked up and ordinary life experiences and turn them into stories that are beautiful and meaningful. I’m young and inexperienced and am desperate to learn and experiment with writing.

But there’s something that paralyzes me. I’m a Jesus-loving Christian.

The grad school I’m aiming for is a seminary because seeking understanding of my faith and reveling in its mystery is incredibly important for me. I don’t believe out of fear, but rather love. But I’m afraid that the beautifully open, tolerant writers and artists, like those I read circling in The Rumpus orbit, will not have room for someone like me because of what I love.

Christians have a terrible reputation in the art world now, with due cause, but it wasn’t always the case and I hope that starts to change. There doesn’t seem to be a place for people like me yet. We are too liberal for most other believers, and too conservative for most liberals of other belief systems. I want to be a part of that change, but I need the push. I don’t want to beat people with my Bible. I just want to share my story honestly and connect with others without having to strip my beliefs from my writing.

Do you think tolerance and love will ever go far enough to take in someone who reads e.e. cummings, soaks up Wallace Stegner, Deitrich Bonhoeffer and the Bible, and has books like “The Adderall Diaries” on my reading list? Or had I better prepare myself to start out without an audience and with a handicap? I’m standing at the edge. Should I jump or not? Is it okay for a Christian to “Write like a Motherfucker?”

Culturally and Spiritually,

Paradoxed

Sugar’s response is brilliant. It includes gems such as this

To think that you will be alone at the Christian writer table tells me you’ve got some reading to do. There’s a rich and varied tradition of such writers. Flannery O’Connor, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anne Lamott, C.S. Lewis, Kathleen Norris, Reynolds Price, and Mary Karr spring to mind, among many others. What they have in common, aside from their Christian faith, is that they write like motherfuckers: full-throttle, no excuses, with humility and nerve, with intelligence and grace, with exactitude and audacity and love.

and

You must apprentice yourself to the craft, bow before the word. But most of all you must stop using Jesus as an excuse.

I don’t think you know this yet, sweet pea, but I’m pretty certain you aren’t writing to me to ask if it’s okay that you write about your passion for Jesus Christ and whether the generally heathen lit world will accept you into the fold. You’re writing to me for the same reason Elissa Bassist did last year, though you use different language. You’re asking me if it’s okay to be you. You want me to give you permission to write your truth with honesty and heart because doing so scares the living crap out of you. I’m here not only to give you permission, but also to say that you must. There is no other way.

(emphasis added)
You can read the rest of what Sugar said right here.

Her response also includes a link to a previous column in which she encouraged someone to “Write Like a Motherf**ker”.

Sugar’s column made me smile. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I took her words as yet another sign that the time for me to embrace the all that I am is way past due.

And so…I shall. 😉

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