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The Journey: Writers Block

Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on

I have heard of people who claim to have writer’s block, but I have never had it. I am not bragging, I just haven’t been blocked. That said, I have written things that are boring, trite, silly, embarrassing, things that would even make Jesus roll his eyes. I have written things that I don’t want anyone to know that I wrote. I have written feature length screenplays, short screenplays, essays, poetry, columns, sermons, speeches and lectures. I have been utterly joyful and profoundly uninspired.

Have I procrastinated in writing? Of course! I have cleaned and done laundry so many times just so I don’t have to sit down and write. A favorite procrastination strategy is that I get to a point and say, “wait… I need to do more research.” This is a classic procrastination technique and I highly recommend this one. It sounds good in your head.

I am reminded of a screenwriting seminar I taught once. A well-dressed woman in her 30’s took the class. She told everybody she was suffering from writer’s block. I asked her what she was working on and she confidently replied, “Oh I have never written anything, that is why I think I have writer’s block.” I told her that, “you first have to write, in order to get blocked.” The following week she came to class with a new $500 purse and was convinced this was going to motivate her to completion. As you have already guessed she wrote nothing; and was still convinced she had writer’s block. She set her eye on an even more expensive purchase and I am sure her life went on.

Sometimes when I am gritting my way through writing a sermon or a column I wonder about our biblical ancestors who wrote the Bible? Did they get blocked? Did they need to take seminars to give themselves permission to buy expensive presents?

I am preaching this Sunday on a letter from the Apostle Paul. I wonder if while writing the letter, was he secretly hoping to validate his need to get a new pair of sandals?

As I write this column I am having a side conversation with myself, “Am I doing this, just so I don’t have to write my sermon?” I think the answer is no, but I am not entirely sure.

I am reminded of the book 2 Corinthians which is located in the New Testament. It is written by the Apostle Paul. The last three chapters are known as the letter of tears. Paul has suffered devastating torment, humiliation and injustice. He sits down to write the letter to the people in the church at Corinth.

In 2 Corinthians Paul has responded to deeply personal attacks on his character. He is preaching a message of inclusion and it has religious leaders angry enough that they are out to get him.
Paul says, “God’s grace comes first, you don’t have to do good deeds then God will love you. God already loves you.”

At first glance this may sound like splitting hairs; but the order is a seismic shift when it comes to opening your life to God. Since we live in California we speak earthquake. In earthquake language Paul’s message is a 9.0! That is why some people are out to get him.
Paul has traveled the Mediterranean spreading an open armed message of Jesus. Wherever he goes and gives his message some people come behind and undermine him. Finally, they attack him personally saying that he is ugly, stupid, dirty and dumb. Paul has lost almost everything.

He is lonely and brokenhearted. His hard work is being undone right before his eyes. With little left, his own people turn on him and become cruel.

They are saying horrible things about him. It isn’t much different than the bullying we see in the public square today.
Paul does not write of anger and bitterness as we might expect. Instead he writes of love, not revenge. He uses the Greek word, Agape. Which is a deep communal love. A love of restoration, kindness, healing and support. A love that can change and transform a broken person into a whole person.

At the end of Paul’s letter of tears, he writes, “live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

The God of love and peace is what sets us free. God’s love is not an alternative or threat to human freedom, it is the source of human freedom. I will be forever grateful that Paul did not suffer from writer’s block.

Rev. Daniel Christian is the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah

 

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