Thursday, 27 September 2012

Practical Implications of Writing as Worship

So, today as I was walking to work I thought about what it would practically mean to try and live out writing as worship.

Now this blog post is going to use a lot of Christian terminology, but the principal applies just the same in a secular context. 

Imagine the big sports game is coming up (pretty easy for Melbournians, as Grand Final is on Saturday). Think of your anticipation, you've put in your footy tipping bets, got the esky, beer and snacks, cleaned up your house so you can actually get to the couch, checked on the standing of all your favourite players. Anyone injured, unable to play? Then, on the day, you stock up on ice, putting on your jersey and sit down in front of your wide screen TV not to be disturbed. 

Just taste your pleasure as the game comes on, as those men in way too tight shorts run through those banners. 

Imagine if sitting down to write was THAT exciting. That you would put up a big 'do not disturb' sign on your life for hours.

Or if football/sport is not your thing, imagine shopping. You've worked hard all week and told yourself that on Saturday you are doing to the shopping centre. You get up early, try to wear something nice because it is always depressing looking at beautiful clothes while dressed like a dag and you drive out there. You enter the sacred halls (I'm picturing Chadstone here, but whatever works for you) and you buy your favourite smoothy which has become a sort of ritual. You wander through the shops, your fingers just softly gliding over the silky satins. 

These are all forms of worship. Guy (that's his name, not just some random guy, but my Guy, that is my pastor Guy, Guy Mason) defined worship as ascribing value to something. With the Footy, dedicating your Saturday afternoon, when you could be doing anything, to watching those beefed up men running around after an inflated bladder, you are saying this is the most valuable thing you could be doing with your time. When you look forward to shopping all week, and spend hours passing through all the shops, you are saying that this is important to you. 

So what I'm arguing is that I should be ascribing value to my writing, because I think it is something God has called me to do. Not in that whole 'everyone must read my books because they are a revelation from God.' They might never get published. It might just be a discipline and learning experience for me. But that is enough. If God says it's valuable, than I should think it is valuable too.

Okay, so after that super long set up, I'm going to continue with the Christian stuff, but try if you can to apply it to your situation and worldview, whatever that may be.

The following is from a post from 2009 on Crossways Baptist Church's and is titled How To Prepare For Worship (topical, no?) I'm going to copy it here and then see if it works for writing.

"Αcceptable worship doesn’t happen spontaneously- you must prepare yourself. Let’s look at Hebrews 10:22. “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” That verse begins with the phrase “let us draw near”-it is our call to worship. What follows are four checkpoints to help you prepare for worship.

The Checkpoint of Sincerity – We are to draw near “with a sincere heart.” That speaks of a genuine heart, devoted to pursuing God. It is hypocritical to be worshiping God when you are really apathetic or preoccupied with self. Draw near to God with your whole heart.

The Checkpoint of Fidelity – We are to draw near “in full assurance of faith.” ... [cut bits as not highly relevant to this] You too are to be fully assured that God accepts your worship, not because of what you do, but because of what Jesus did in providing atonement for you.

The Checkpoint of Humility – We are to draw near to God “having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” That is, you come to God with the knowledge that you are unworthy to be in His presence. The only reason anyone can come to Him is the blood of Christ, which was shed on the cross as a cleansing for sin.

The Checkpoint of Purity – We are to draw near having “our bodies washed with pure water.” That refers to the daily cleansing by the Word of God. The process of sanctification ferrets out sinful thoughts and exposes sinful behavior. Before you worship, confess the sins that God uncovered through His Word so you can draw near in purity."

The first aspect that needs highlighting is the whole drawing near thing. I actually have to come to write in order for this whole thing to work. 
Action: Make appointments to write and keep them. 

Sincerity: I'm drawn to the whole 'don't be apathetic or preoccupied with self.' It's true, these are really detrimental to writing (and watching sport: if you are thinking about work the whole time, everyone throws things at you and tells you to get off the couch.) 
Action: take a few minutes before starting to drop all thoughts of self, and find my excitement in the exercise. 

Fidelity: For me this means trusting in my Muse. I do the turning up faithfully and trust that he is doing the rest. (Sort of like my whole thing with Walking on Water with Tap Shoes.)
Action: Trust my Muse.

Humility: Just as we are humbled that we can't play as well as those men can, or that we can't design and makes clothes as beautiful as the ones we see in the shops and must have, so in writing as worship, I need to acknowledge that I can't actually write brilliantly myself. Any gifts I have are from God. And the purpose of this is not to make me feel bad or worthless, but grateful for what I have been given. And relieved, because the pressure is not on me.
Action: Admit that any good writing I do is from God, and let that release me from fear.

Purity: For me concerning writing, this means letting go of all thoughts of writing for the money/fame/men (who wants more women? I have plenty of those, bring on the good looking men!). I need to approach my writing with a purity of intent that focuses on telling a story because it should be told, even if there isn't a 'market' for it at the moment, etc. 
Action: Focus on the story and the process, not potential results. 

Those are my thoughts on worship. What they actually amount to in practical terms appears to be:
1. stopping before I sit down to write, 
2. put aside my worries for the day, 
3. listening to some worship music (this just helps me focus my mind) and 
4. laying my heart before God. 
Then going from there. Tried it tonight and I think it worked sort of well (have more words, though now have three starts to the Secret Railway, which really would have been better if I had moved forward with just one of them. Oh well).

I don't know, do you think I am stretching this all too much? Do you have another interpretation?

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