Coming home from a counseling session with two people who yelled at each other for three hours I was trying to listen to some music and unwind. God spoke to my heart about these people:
“I am at work.”
Not only is there no accounting for taste there is no defending it either. The liberating winds of personal preference are one of the chief protections from the suffocating arrogance of the herd. Don’t waste your time explaining or defending your tastes, just enjoy them for what they are; you may be benefiting more from their simple essence than you realize. In his book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis puts these words into the mouth of a demon who is trying to engineer the downfall of a man:
“The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring twopence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forearmed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food he really likes in favor of the ‘best’ people, the ‘right’ food, the ‘important’ books. I have known a human defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions.”
Breaking Bad is done, but if you want to have great insights into where a show like it came from, read Brett Martin’s book Difficult Men. It is a history of what is being called the third golden age of television. An age ushered in by shows like Oz, The Wire, The Sopranos, and continued by Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I listened to the audio version and drove out of my way some days so I could hear an extra 15 minutes.
I went to a local production of Fiddler On the Roof on opening night. It was a great performance from a group of high schoolers and went off without a hitch. Well, only one hitch. In the next-to-last scene of the play, one of Tevya’s daughters ran to the middle of the stage and fell down. At first I didn’t know if this was part of the play or not. The girl got back up and ran off the stage, but Golde couldn’t hold it together. She turned her back to the audience and tried to suppress a laugh. Her character broke open and we saw what was inside – not the strong, sharp-tongued Jewish matriarch – just girl in a high school play.
Soon after the play my wife wanted to watch the Miss Universe pageant (something I usually avoid at all costs, along with figure skating and the Hollywood gossip shows), but I didn’t have the energy to resist so we watched. Miss USA walked out for the evening gown “competition”, took about five steps and fell right on her bum. Usually this would have made me laugh pretty hard, and I still chuckled a bit, but the woman got back up, smiled, and continued to work the catwalk. She didn’t cry, or hurry through her walk to get away from the embarrassment. A fall didn’t break her character, it revealed it.
A friend asked me if I was worried about writing so much. “Are you scared you might run out of ideas?” I see his point. Every writer fears the block. Irving Berlin, after a lifetime of success was quoted as saying: “Talent is only a starting point in business. You’ve got to keep working that talent. Someday I’ll reach for it and it won’t be there.” Here is a man who produced more successful work than a reasonable person would even dream about, yet he still feared it would run out. If we write from ourselves and about the world this is a valid fear. The Christian isn’t running on empty though. A Christian runs from fulness toward fulness. A Christian isn’t their own source. In fact, the more a Christian empties themselves, the more room there is for Christ to work; for Life to produce more life.