I write this as I am sitting in a Barnes & Noble Cafe. I’ve spent the last two hours reading a book called Holy Laughter. It’s a collection of essays edited by M. Conrad Hyers. There are several thought provoking chapters in this text, and I’m glad I found it. Over the past few months I have been trying to get my hands on as many texts by Hyers as I can, he has done a lot of work on Comedy, Humor and Christian Faith. Hyers is rising as one of my primary conversation partners as I begin writing my thesis.
Whenever I am writing I am aware that I am not working entirely in my own mind. But I am interacting with a world of ideas. I often feel like I’m hosting a dinner party and the guests include, Barth, St. Paul, Nietzsche, C.S. Lewis, Marc Maron, St. Mark, Jesus, Jim Gaffigan, N.T. Wright and a host of others. All of these people I have been reading about, listening to, and I’m trying to help them see how they are connected and similar to each other.
The challenge at such a dinner party is that a Nietzsche and Lewis really disagree on some fundamental beliefs, and so I feel like my nice dinner could explode at any minute with food flying and fists crashing into my face.
But on the other hand, the conversations that are possible when bringing all these thinkers together is enlightening and exciting. And I want to tell people about the connections that were made between two disparate conversation partners. The challenge is putting the synthesis of ideas that happens in my imaginary dinner party into words that are accessible to people who weren’t there.
That’s essential the challenge of writing. Be it a sermon, a paper, a thesis, even a joke, if I can’t share the connection that are being made in my head, then all is lost, and the dinner party was a waste of everyone’s time. Well not everyone’s time because so far Nietzsche has remained civil and Maron hasn’t alienated everyone else by dealing with all his own issues. And Gaffigan keeps the conversation light by pointing out the absurdity of seafood.