IVP - Strangely Dim - Checking in from the Story Conference

September 24, 2010

Checking in from the Story Conference

Conferences in Chicago, where I live (OK, you got me, the suburbs of Chicago), are a mixed blessing. No flight costs? Blessing. No hotel costs (not to mention no roommates from the office blurring your boundaries)? Blessing. Some sense of confidence about where you're going and how to get there? Blessing. However, I'm finding that conference schedules don't mesh well with office- or homelife schedules; meanwhile, guilt sensations have an easier time finding me in Chicago than, say, in St. Louis, so I agonize more acutely over the work left undone at the office, and the life left unlived (and chores left unchored) at my house. 

On balance, though, the right conference on the home front is worth the guilt feelings and complex coordination. I've been to three such right conferences lately: a retreat for editors; the twentieth annual conference of the Christian Community Development Association; and this week, the Story Conference--a conference for the creative class. (One more next week, then I'll mow the lawn. I promise.)

The Story Conference pulls together people in arts ministry, innovative church planters and leaders, and lay Christians in arts industries for encouragement and expansion of the imagination. The speakers have ranged from wildly successful novelists and filmmakers, to culture leaders among right-brained evangelicals, to pastors and activists. Two of our authors--Sean Gladding (The Story of God, the Story of Us) and Princess Kasune Zulu (Warrior Princess) are on the bill.

I'm struck by how often arts and justice work among evangelicals are commingled. The exhibitors here oscillate, almost booth by booth, between creative expression and justice/mercy ministry. IVP, as usual, sits somewhere in the middle: Princess is an AIDS activist; Sean is a storyteller. Each of them regularly feeds and acts on both their creative and their justice impulses. Out of everyone at this conference (I include myself in this) they're probably the two people easiest to pick out of a crowd.

I don't have much insight into this apparent collusion of the arts and social conscience. Maybe you do. I do know that as I look around at Story, I think we came to the right place, and there are probably folks here who appreciate that we came. Almost makes me forget that I owe my boss some paperwork.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at September 24, 2010 6:11 AM Bookmark and Share

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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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