Sunday, May 25, 2014

dear Focus on the Family, Fantine was a prostitute.

{via pinterest}
dear Focus on the Family,

I want to ask you about shame. I want to ask you about the way you dug your hands into a big pail of soapy water and scrubbed away at the dirt that is humanity.

and then I will press the play button on that ancient cassette player and let you listen to the words you wrote down on a piece of paper and handed to a woman to read as she voiced the role of Fatine in your radio drama recording of Les Miserables. 

and then I want to ask you more about Fantine. they called her a prostitute in that alley and she was appalled. you could hear it in her voice, the way she spit the last syllable of her accused profession. "I am not a prostitute," she snaps.

except she was. and you changed it.

did you think you were doing her a favor, tidying her up and making her presentable for the hordes of Christian listeners that would be gathering around their listening devices with their children and their grandparents. did you want to make it easy for them not to answer questions from inquiring little mouths :: daddy, what's a prostitute? 

but really, you did Fatine a disservice. and in the process, you did us all one, too.

Van Jean saves her, gathers her fever-riddled body into his arms, vows to tend to her little girl. the story is beautiful, yes. but it was beautiful the way it was. in fact, it was better before you changed this important detail. 

she is worthy of saving because of her humanity. does supposed morality make her worthy somehow? does her profession of sex worker make her less allowable? or does it make you uncomfortable? that idea that Jean Val Jean, Prisoner 24601, gathers into his arms the body of a woman who has slept with countless men for the money they press into her palm -- does it make you clear your throat and side-step the issue?
{via pinterest}

obviously it does. because you took it away. you made her fragile and moral, a newly made virginal woman with a child from long-repented sin, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

what then do you do with this Man, Jesus, as he reached out his hands to the naked woman flung into the dirt with pointed fingers from Pharisees? will you scrub her clean, too, until she is covered from neck to toes with a cloak and pretend no one knows what's underneath?

to love another person is to see the face of God. 
{les miserables}

because when you take away Fantine being a prostitute, you take away the Gospel-glory that clings to the edges of everything. you take away the holy breathing of the One who speaks Life over the gory and the broken and the smelly and the base. He takes the sh***y and pitches His tent there.

so, Focus on the Family, Fantine was a prostitute.
and the glory in that is immeasurable.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

what writing a book looks like

{what writing a book looks like to me}
I want to tell you what writing a book looks like.

it's not all log cabins and ocean waves and sand beneath your toes. it's not all pens and notebooks stacked romantically haphazardly perfect. it's not all quiet moments and hot tea and moments curled into corners of coffee shops with that perfect smooth music playing. 

sometimes it's crammed between moving boxes and un-hung paintings laid in piles against half-painted walls. sometimes it's tables brimming with unfolded laundry and half-drunk soda cans. sometimes the soundtrack is less Spotify and more barking dogs and fighting cats and toddlers who just won't take a nap. 

writing a book isn't just for the perfect. if it was, there would be no books. because books can be born in the tidy and the neat, but that isn't the only way. their spawning ground is not specific, not confined to optimum temperature and light and ground softly fertilized with coffee grounds and old tea bags. 

there is only one piece of magic advice that will cause a book to grow :: you have to write it. 

you have to find that slow flow, the one that comes at two in the morning when the house is quiet and the dog is snoring and you can hear the buzzing sound the television makes. you have to find the words that come strange and awkward and sometimes feel like mucking out the stables of giant horses. you have to let them come to the surface and float between piles of homework and a slow-burning candle that sometimes sizzles when sweat and tears drop on the flame. 

if you love writing—and you have to love it to write a book—you hustle and you cry through the late nights and you don't get any sleep and then you sleep too much 
but you keep going because you love it. 
it's the words—not time—that brings you back to the page.

{what writing a book looks like to elora}
I want to tell you what writing a book looks like. 

it looks like that fallen dead tree on the beach, digging thick marks into the sand. it looks like no stone unturned, finding words hidden between diapers and electric bills. it looks like lighting a candle and pressing your forehead to carpet or stone or ceramic tile while you breathe in the story that fell on the floor in a puddle that looks more like a portal to another dimension instead of spilled milk. 

it looks like holy holy holy in the dead of night. it whispers like suitcases and cardboard boxes and Sharpie markers for labeling. 

I want to tell you what writing a book looks like. 

it looks like where you are. it looks like who you are.

{show me what writing a book looks like to you. use the hashtag #whatwritingabooklookslike :: which was invented by my dear friend Preston Yancey :: on Instagram. I want to see you.}