IVP - Strangely Dim - Great Crowd of Witnesses

April 30, 2004

Great Crowd of Witnesses

by David A. Zimmerman

"Stop staring at me, Sara Groves!" That's the thought that popped in my head the other day as I came out of prayer--not "Amen!" or "Praise Jesus!" but "Stop staring!"

Now, I don't know Sara Groves, much less do I spend time in prayer with her. She's a singer, and her most recent CD was sitting on my entertainment center, directly in my line of sight. The cover is a picture of her, and it has an eerie, Mona Lisa quality to it: she never takes her eyes off you. Even while you're praying. Even while you're daydreaming during the time you thought you'd be praying.

She wasn't alone. I looked around and noticed that Barry Manilow was doing the same thing. I'm not sure how he got into my home, but there he was, giving me the creeps. Shifting my eyes further to the right, I caught the gaze of my godchild, Olivia, before noticing the scattered Beanie Babies checking me out. Finally my eyes landed on the ultimate surreal experience: myself, ten years ago with my wife, smiling right at me.

I'm reminded of my childhood trips to visit my grandparents. Their walls were cluttered with family photos, some familiar and cheery--in color--but many stern and haunting, in grainy black and white. These were from an earlier era when convention called for emotionless poses in portraits; even wedding pictures featured po-faced couples burrowing their eyes into your soul. We grandchildren refused to sleep alone in some rooms solely based on the pictures that hung from the walls.

Still, those face shots are the pictures you go for--the ones you put on your walls and in your wallet. As fond as I am of my godchild, I have no pictures of her feet. And as much as I love my wife--all of her--I don't often call to mind the back of her head. We know one another, more than by any other means, by our faces.

That's the great hope of the Christian faith--to one day know God face to face, to know fully even as we're fully known. In the meantime we know God's image through his image-bearers, the people he's placed right under our noses. So, for all the momentary discomforts I've experienced under the penetrating looks of other people, there's fundamentally great comfort in knowing that while I'm not yet face to face with my Maker, he's not making me to face life alone.

* * *

Look, look! I'm writing a book! Check out my secret identity at www.ivpress.com.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at April 30, 2004 9:24 AM Bookmark and Share


moving from lurker to commenter: Thanks for your great thoughts. It never occurred to me to see how many people are "looking" at me here at my desk!

Also, great idea for a book! You go! I'm looking forward to reading it. Besides the source materials (great excuse to read comics, btw), do you have a "books on comics" bibliography? I'd be interested in seeing that!

Comment by: Macon at April 30, 2004 10:33 AM

Thanks for writing, Macon. And thanks for your comments on the book. It won't be out for several months, but it's occupying a lot of my thoughts now, so I figured I might as well acknowledge that.

The books I'd recommend right off the bat are Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and (less fundamental but fascinating) Reinventing Comics; Richard Reynolds dated but compelling Superheroes: A Modern Mythology; and the recent Stan Lee and the Rise & Fall of the American Comic Book. I haven't read but look forward to reading How to Read Comic Books and Why; and I got a lot of good background material from Comic Book Nation and Comic Book Culture.

I've been playing the "research" excuse for nearly a year now, but my wife is getting a bit tired of the toys, cartoons and comic books that have come to dominate the house. Are you a comics reader? What do you like to read?

Comment by: dave at April 30, 2004 10:51 AM

Thank you for the recommendations! They will definitely go on my next-to-read list.

I love comics. Loved them too much to collect them. All my comics had been read and re-read way too many times for me to ever keep them "mint."

My favorites are generally the classics: Spiderman, Batman, Superman. I love those three different mythologies. I treasured my "Classic XMen" #1 where started my love affair with Prof. X's crew. Green Lantern also got a reading, but only at the comics stand: never committed enough to buy it. Slightly off the beaten path, a little known, short run comic on published by "Epic" (a former division of Marvel) was a favorite: Alien Legion. Finally, I also really like Usagi Yojimbo, published by Dark Horse.

Usually when my wife and I go to Borders/Barnes&Noble, I stop by the "graphic novel" section to poke around. That's generally where she finds me when she's ready to go.

Comment by: Macon at April 30, 2004 9:36 PM

I've long been a Daredevil/Batman/Avengers reader. I like the trade paperbacks these days because I don't have a convenient place to put single issues. I'd like to start looking at the other publishing houses more; I gleefully read Heroes Anonymous: Supergroup Therapy until I could no longer find new issues.

I had a dream last night that Marvel edited itself out of existence. The last panel of the last book showed the Kingpin (I think) in the sights of an arrow being shot by Hawkeye (I think). Kingpin was protesting, saying that if Hawkeye shot him, the whole universe would come to a halt. And then it did.


Comment by: dave at May 3, 2004 8:39 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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