David Dark “Provokes” at Laity Lodge

This weekend, I had the privilege of teaching a fiction workshop at Laity Lodge. I had a fantastic time, inspired by ten aspiring writers who turned in excellent samples for consideration and critique. I wish I could have kept on working with them for a whole week.

But my time was also blessed by the presence of author David Dark, whose books Everyday Apocalypse and The Sacredness of Questioning Everything have become very important to me, worth reading and re-reading.

Here’s what Eugene Peterson says about The Sacredness of Questioning Everything:

David Dark is my favorite critic of the people’s culture of America and the Christian faith. He brings a deep sense of reverence to every book he reads, every song he hears, every movie he sees, but it is a discerning reverence—attentive to truth and Jesus wherever he comes on them. He is also a reliable lie detector. And not a dull sentence in the book.

His lecture at Laity Lodge was a revelation. It was like discovering a great improvisational jazz musician, or having your first experience with the standup routines of Eddie Izzard. Dark’s method is to provide an array of “provocations,” challenging you to see associations between them, and to follow him in a sort of cosmic “connect-the-dots” game. If you’re paying attention, and if you keep reflecting on his tour-guide anecdotes on an unexpected journey, you’ll begin to see some profound pictures emerging. There’s the best kind of method in his madness.

Here are three of the “provocations” he threw out to us, observations that made me cheer, inspiring reflection and discussion:

1) There is not one secular molecule in the universe.

2) There is no such thing as a “spiritual component” in anything.

3) Religion: Everybody has one, and if they pretend they don’t, politely ask them to show you their receipts, their daily schedule, their emails, and a transcript of everything they’ve said.

If you ever get a chance to hear him, do. And as soon as you can, pick up a copy of this…

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.