Book of the Month – March 2021

I like to occasionally recommend a book on the writing life. Art + Faith by Makoto Fujimura (Yale University Press) is one you might enjoy. The author is a well-known painter and frequently speaks and writes on the intersection of art and faith.

In 2009 Crossway publishing commissioned him to illuminate the four Gospels to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the publishing of the King James Bible. It was the first time a single artist has been commissioned to illuminate the four Gospels in nearly five hundred years. (Crossway has a video on the project here.) The Gospels were on exhibition at the Museum of Biblical Art in Manhattan in 2011 and later were featured at the inaugural exhibit at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC in 2017. (A link to that artwork can be found here. Note that the dimensions of these paintings are 48″ x 60″.)

The subtitle of the book is quite telling: A Theology of Making. What we have in these 150 pages is a nonlinear exploration of the topic. His interests are wide-ranging, interacting with other thinkers like T.S. Eliot. N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, and even farmers who “fix the soil.”

In his chapter called “The Journey to the New Through Christ’s Tears” (a meditation on John 11–12), he writes the following on pages 107-108:

Artists, by being sensitive to the world around them, also feel deeply the wounds and agony of life along with its explosive potential. . . . Artists are the conduits of life, articulating what all of us are surely sensing but may not have the capacity to express.

But having said that, we should not regard the arts as having only utilitarian value. The arts are use-less but a great gift, and therefore indispensable.

Let me repeat his sentence, “Articulating what all of us are surely sensing but may not have that capacity to express.” That is why you have been given the gift of writing. To express those things that have been pressed upon you.

Years ago I challenged an author when their nonfiction writing felt sterile–at arms-length. I said, “There is something missing in your work. You.” He replied, “But it hurts too much to go there.” A poignant observation of the life of a writer.

How many of you weep while writing? The novelist feels their character’s pain. The memoirist recalls the struggles of the past. All while trying to express the inexpressible. 

As I wrote these last three paragraphs I realized what happened. Makato Fujimura’s book made me think. To think about art and faith and why we do what we do.

Hopefully, this book can help you do the same.

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Fun Fridays – February 26, 2021

Virtuoso is almost too easy of a word to describe the artist in today’s video. Alexandr Hrustevich + Vivaldi + ACCORDIAN??? You will have one of two reactions to this genius in relation to your own talent: (1) Aspire to greatness. (2) Crawl under a blanket and ponder your existence. …

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Am I on a Deadline?

Many authors submit book proposals to agents and editors with the thought, If this doesn’t work, I’ll self-publish. That plan is reasonable. However, when strategizing your career, consider the timeline. As an agency, we set a time frame to respond to author queries. Often, we miss our stated deadline. In …

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A Cliché Simile Is a Bad Simile

One of the many things I fairly harp on when I teach at writers conferences (full disclosure: I’m a fair harper) is the need to eliminate clichés from your writing. Seriously, they’re old hat.  One of the places clichés seem to creep in most often is in similes and metaphors. …

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Fun Fridays – February 19, 2021

When it comes to singing, I’m a bass. When listening to music, I’ll often pick out the bass line and sing along. With today’s video, I could keep up for the first couple of verses; and then Geoff Castellucci sank lower than thought humanly possible with his voice and made …

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God at Auschwitz

Back in 2019, I had the opportunity to travel to a conference in Poland and afterward tour Auschwitz/Birkenau, one of the more infamous Nazi death camps. More than a million people were murdered there at the hands of the SS from 1942 until its liberation by the Russian army in …

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Coming Full Circle

by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Today’s guest blog is from Kim Vogel Sawyer a best-selling author whose books have topped the sales charts and won awards since 2005, when she left her elementary school teaching job to write full time. Her books have won the Carol Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her stories are designed to offer hope and encouragement to her readers. Kim sees a correlation between the writing of a good story and God’s good plan for every life, and she hopes her stories encourage readers to seek God’s will in their own personal lives. Bestselling author Tracie Peterson says: “Kim Vogel Sawyer is an exceptional storyteller who is sure to please fans of historical fiction. Her attention to detail and love of God shines through.”

In addition to writing, Kim Vogel Sawyer is a popular speaker, freely sharing her testimony of God’s grace and healing-both physical and emotional-in her life. She and her husband Don reside in Hutchinson, Kansas, and have three daughters and four grandchildren. She is active in her church and loves singing, acting, playing handbells, quilting, and chocolate!

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In 2002, as my health was crumbling to the point that full-time teaching was no longer a possibility and I didn’t know what I was going to do, my dad–feeling as though I needed a major lift–took it upon himself to make my publishing dream come true. He sent a story I’d written, titled A Seeking Heart, to Steve Laube, who, at the time, owned a self-publishing company called ACW Press. And Steve agreed to help me get it into print.

Thus began a journey beyond the scope of my wildest imaginings.

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President’s Day – 2021

Today is President’s Day in the U.S. Originally established in 1885 as a recognition of George Washington’s birthday (February 22), it was later expanded to include Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and all other U.S. presidents. Over the centuries, there have been some amusing statements by various U.S. presidents. In honor …

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