Listening In … with Philip Yancey and Steven Curtis Chapman
- Monday, February 02, 2004
Philip: Right. It’s in "Finding God in Unexpected Places" (Moorings).
Steven: Right. The wheels were already turning, and that gave them a good spin — just to consider why it is that songwriters have yet to exhaust all these images of “When I look in your eyes I see heaven” and all these sort of heavenly metaphors that have been thrown around for years. Is it because, as you say in this book, that is as close as many people will ever get to experiencing God?
Philip: I think it really is. And I think culture is really schizophrenic about sex. On one hand, we glorify adultery. Every night you turn on a new TV show, and it’s at the heart of it. Then when somebody actually does it like, Kobe Bryant, the reaction is: “Oh can you believe he did this?!”
I quote the song by Bloodhound Gang: “We ain’t nothin’ but mammals so let’s do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel.” I live in the Rockies; and there’s an elk who lives on the hill behind us. In the morning you can open the window, and you can hear him. I've watched him, you know! And what I find is we don’t “do it” like him at all. Most humans prefer privacy. This guy doesn’t care whether I’m looking or not.
We sing these songs, but the songs are deceptions; they’re lies because we make it sound like the animal way is the best way. But when anybody tries, that contradiction is obvious. Well, what’s the difference? The difference is that sex touches our souls. It’s the most tender thing about us. Most married people would tell you it’s complicated, it’s not easy, and it’s not nearly like it should be in the movies. It’s just a soul issue. It’s not just exchanging bodily fluids. To me that’s a rumor. That’s a rumor of: “Why are we here? Why is sex here? How is human sex different than elk sex?” There are a lot of really obvious differences. So what do those differences tell us about what God had in mind if God designed it — if He is the designer? And that’s a very powerful rumor for me.
Steven: Well I hope someday you’ll take those 25,000 words that were left over and do that book and also the extended version. I think there’s such a need for that kind of discussion about intimacy and romance in sex. I think there can be so much more redemptive art, discussion, books and writing about romance and about what God has really designed. I remember a mainstream writer asking Toby McKeehan [of dc talk] “Don’t you feel limited by the fact that you can only write about your faith? Don’t you wish you could just write about whatever?” I was encouraged by Toby’s response because he said: “I would feel incredibly limited if I couldn’t talk about my faith. That is an endless, bottomless well to draw from.”
Philip: I had that experience as a writer. I started as editor of Campus Life. And we would do articles on hang gliding and mountain bikes and stuff like that. But what I found was it got to be pure mathematics after a while. “OK, here’s a mountain bike, here’s the formula of the article. Here’s what you do.” And it wasn’t touching the deepest part of me. To my surprise, my writing became much more inward and spiritual, touching the spiritual aspects of me. My calling is to write the very best books I can about the things that matter most to me.
Enjoy the rest of Steven’s and Philip’s conversation in next month’s CCM.
© 2004 CCM Magazine. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Click here to subscribe.
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