I’d been looking forward to it for months: the Faith and Culture Conference for writers and other creatives. We met last weekend at Warner Pacific College, on the edge of Mt. Tabor in Portland, Oregon.
Brent and I actually flew out to Portland a week early to visit our two sons, their wives and our grandson, all of whom have relocated to the Pacific Northwest in the last year. Good times!
The whole region is gorgeous, hills bursting with plant life including enormous Christmas trees and tons of flowers. The lakes and rivers were full of water, which almost seems weird to a Texan whose state has been in drought mode for, what, four or five years?
The city of Portland thrums with an exuberant, youthful vibe. Artfully dressed people in all their picturesque hipness were everywhere. (Sometimes a middle-aged small-town grandma needed to go look at a blank wall for a minute. I just couldn’t keep up, you know?)
But the pre-conference retreat, and the conference itself… whoa. Fabulous times of worship. We drank deep from a fountain of pure joy. Honest conversations, learning over and over that “I’m not the only one!” Making new friends, some of whose convictions, values or doctrinal beliefs differ from mine.
On the flight home to Dallas I spent some time considering the “Big Takeaway” — What had God said to me overall about my life as a writer and especially as a believer?
I’m glad you asked.
Most importantly, I heard the warning not to mistake my own tradition, paradigm or interpretation for biblically sound doctrine. My belief could be misinformed. My doctrinal position could actually be (gasp!) wrong. Or at least a matter of individual conscience.
On the other hand, depending on the topic and context, my particular belief or conviction could be right. While it’s certainly healthy to question old traditions, it’s equally healthy to question specific ideas generated in a youthful, freestyle, “anti-tradition” paradigm.
After all, we wouldn’t want to throw out the nuggets of holy truth along with the gravel of tradition and personal preference. As Peter points out in 2 Peter 1:20-21, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
Either way, pursuing doctrinal correctness is not enough. I must also make sure my heart, my attitude, are right. I must seek my brothers’ and sisters’ highest good, with humility and love and respect for their sincerity.
I learned tons of stuff about writing, too, but I won’t burden my longsuffering readers with those concepts. Besides, marvelous bits of wisdom kept coming at me… so fast that too many escaped before I could jot them down. So my notebook is a little disjointed.
I’ll sign off for now, with loving greetings from the heart of Texas, y’all.
Thanks for reading,
PS: I’m linking up this week with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria sisters.