quinta-feira, janeiro 05, 2012

A breath of grace in the virtual world - an interview with Philip Yancey

I had the privilege a few months ago, to exchanging a few emails with the great writer Philip Yancey. Since then he has become a sort of mentor to me in many ways. Some time ago I had the opportunity to interview him about this world of the "blogosphere". For several reasons this interview was not yet online, but I'm very happy to post here today. May his words might serve as inspiration to all Christians involved in this way, as they served to me.

Philip Yancey, 62, writer and journalist, is married with Janet and lives in the mountains of Colorado. He is an American author enshrined in the Christian internationally, has won several literary prizes. Having grown up in a fundamentalist and racist church in the southern United States, he learned through life that grace is the central point of Christianity that many churches have forgotten. The author of  bestsellers such as "What's so amazing about grace" and "Disappointment with God, mr Philip gave the Thirty-three his views on the blogosphere.

Thirty-three: You are one of the most influent writers of our time. What you think about the blogs? Could they take the space before occupied only with books' writers?
       Philip Yancey: I'm old-fashioned and I like to hold books in my hand so that I can mark them up when I read.  For this reason I hope blogs don't take away books.  Yet I know that they offer a new and quicker (and more intimate?) way to communicate to a new generation and in fact I have my own blog.  It's not very regular, but I find it is liberating to write whenever I want, not on a regular schedule, about whatever I want without worrying about length.  With magazines and books I have to keep length in mind, but not on a blog.

33: Wich tips would you give to new writers or to someone who wants to start writing? Do you thing that starts a blog can help?
         PY: The only way to learn to write and to improve is to write!  So, yes, writing a blog can be a great help.  It forces you to put words down, play with them, move them around, find out what communicates and what doesn't.  Plus, blogs usually have space for comments, and the second key to getting started in writing is feedback.  I recommend that aspiring writers join a small group of others who take turns reading their material to each other, asking for comments about what works well and what doesn't.  Blogs can help provide this service.

33: How the internet could be used to show the grace of God (not only with blogs, but with facebook, twitter, and others)?
         PY:The internet reaches across cultural barriers.  I hear from people in the Middle East or China, for example, who could not write me by "snail mail" without involving danger.  Plus, they can write private, personal questions that would not work in a public setting.  I have noticed a tendency, though, for those who use the Internet not to show grace.  Something about the immediate response makes them more likely to flame with anger or passion rather than giving a careful, reasoned response.  I hope that Christians become models of care and reconciliation on the Internet--after all, Jesus told us to love our enemies.

33: Many people here in Brazil has taken advantage of the opportunity that the internet give, to talk about mistakes on church, what do you thing about that?
         PY:Well, the internet may be the safest place to voice critiques of the church.  I hope they don't use it as a forum to criticize specific names and organizations however.  It dare not become a place for venting gossip.  On the other hand, some places have no access to a healthy church, and the internet can for them provide a kind of "virtual church" allowing them to connect with healthy, mature Christians.  Not everyone can easily find a grace-filled church with sound doctrine.  The internet exposes other models out there that we can learn from.

33: How we can make difference in our world, only writing? 
         PY:I ask myself that all the time.  Once I wrote an article about the difference in my isolated life and my wife's, (she was a social worker in Chicago at the time).  Each night she would come home with stories of responding to real human need whereas I just moved words and commas around on a computer screen.  Yet if I choose well what I write about, I can inspire and nurture people like my wife who are on the "front lines" of faith.  I think of authors who have helped shape my life and faith.  They too sat in a lonely room and moved words around, yet they brought me hope and health.  Maybe I can do that for others.  Plus, I would be no good at social work or chaplaincy!  We all have different gifts, and writing is only one--but it is one God can use.

33: Also here in Brazil, the blogs has gained ground in the youth time. Some young people spend hours in front of computer to read humor blogs, and is very commom that a few (maybe a lot) of this writers talk bad things about Jesus, most part because the people wich were supposed to be christians is talking stupid things, that was not on Bible. Do you think that the message of grace has space of this atheistic "blogs' world"?
         PY: I believe such blogs offer an opportunity (and challenge) for Christians to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc.  When I write for secular blogs I'm amazed by how mean and cruel and dismissive readers can be.  Our job as Christians is to show another way, even when we disagree.  Reading blogs can be a waste of time, though it can also be an avenue in which we can live out our faith.

33: How could a christian speak about polemic issues, like homossexualism, abortion, death penalty, sex before marriage, speaking about grace, but not talking with liberalism neither legalism?
         PY: Of course, Christians have been doing this for years in books and magazine articles.  I hope we treat the other side with respect and dignity.  We should give them a chance to state their case, then carefully and compassionately explain why we may disagree.  The same principles apply in conversation and writing for magazines that should apply in blogs.  The real issue is, How can we show love?  Answer that, and you'll have your answer to this question.  We must follow the example of Jesus, who lived among people who must have grievously offended him.  Yet he managed to attract them.  If only Christians were more like Jesus!

33: How much read things on internet has helped you (if that happened)?
         PY: Mainly, I use the internet for research.  In times past I'd spend hours in libraries tracking down the background facts to what I write about.  Now I can simply use Google and get all that research instantly, from my home.  I love that!  I don't use the internet to read opinion pieces, though I do use it to check the news from sources such as the BBC.

33: If Jesus lives in our time, do you think that he would have a blog?
         PY: Hard to say.  He was so interpersonal that almost all his work involved the ability to look people in the eye and touch them.  He never left any writing, for example, and the only scene we have of him writing (John 8), he wrote in sand that would soon blow away.  So my guess is that he would not blog.  He focused on small groups of people, especially his 12 disciples, and had no interest in mass communication.

33: Say something to young people in Brazil who gonna read your interview
    PY: I am honored that you asked me to be your first interviewee! Go to my website:  www.philipyancey.com!  Or you can find me on Facebook, both a site which I monitor and another one run by a many from Venezuela which includes many responses in Spanish and Portuguese.  Just type my name in Facebook and you'll see a brown photo (my site) and a green photo (the international site). 

Mr. Philip has a section in his website, called Writing, which gives many tips for those who want to join this world of writing. In several books he cites the joys and the difficulties of life as a writer, but I particularly recommendo the book "Soul Survivor", where the author reviews his story citing several people, mostly writers who influenced him to be a Christian and writer who is today. 

May the grace be with us this year!

Um comentário:

Roger disse...

Uau! Adorei!!!

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