Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inspiration and a Story's Moment of Grace

Photo by Blakophoto
I am often aware that good stories come from sudden inspiration — like noticing that a morning dew drop, which scatters light into a brilliant rainbow of sparkling colors, is hanging from a weed. 

Such observations are buoyed by transcendence. They are "moments of grace" that inspire our sometimes pitiful lives to embrace hope of a better tomorrow.

Just as writers rely on inspiration or a vision of transcendent purpose, so the characters we write about also must come across their "moments of grace."

This morning, while preparing for my Story Symposium class (a monthly meeting of teens), I was reading Pope Benedict XVI's "Address to Artists" (21 November 2009) and John Paul II's "Letter to Artists" (April 4, 1999, Easter Sunday).  Yes, the Story Symposium is a group of Catholic home schoolers. How'd you guess?)

Benedict's address is filled with inspirational language, like:
Your art consists in grasping treasures from the heavenly realm of the spirit and clothing them in words, colours, forms — making them accessible. (3)(Benedict VXI Address to Artists)
But here is the passage that got me off my chair. It speaks of us as human beings looking for the solution to our lives, and to the problems that befall the characters in our stories, and how there are "moments of grace" for both. This paragraph does not just apply to the artist, but to any person (or fictional character) as they face a problem, a moral dilemma, and look for an idea or inspiration to carry them onward and upward. It may be something or a moment that is beyond current comprehension. But, just as the artist sees that dew drop hanging from a weed, so we can look for those moments of grace when we are introduced to the transcendence that makes being human, almost divine. (emphasis mine)
Dear artists, you well know that there are many impulses which, either from within or from without, can inspire your talent. Every genuine inspiration, however, contains some tremor of that “breath” with which the Creator Spirit suffused the work of creation from the very beginning. Overseeing the mysterious laws governing the universe, the divine breath of the Creator Spirit reaches out to human genius and stirs its creative power. He touches it with a kind of inner illumination which brings together the sense of the good and the beautiful, and he awakens energies of mind and heart which enable it to conceive an idea and give it form in a work of art. It is right then to speak, even if only analogically, of “moments of grace”, because the human being is able to experience in some way the Absolute who is utterly beyond. (#15)  (JPII Letter to Artists at
I wish I had the quote in my book. Well, now it's on my blog.

Vanquish Fear, Bestow Hope.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Living Dead Girl: Is there a Resurrection?

We are proud to host this exclusive online debut of the newly restored HD version of Jon Springer's 35mm classic silent zombie short "Living Dead Girl."  Click HERE to play the movie.

This film is discussed on pages 114-115 of "The Moral Premise." It illustrates several things that writers need to learn. First, "Living Dead Girl" takes a well-worn genre and bends it in one new direction that connects with "zombie" audiences. Second, it illustrates how a story can be true at its core while also being violent and bloody. Third, it humorously metaphors how some in modern society can turned into zombies when it comes to spending time and money.


In the book I share this MPPS, since the film comes from a Catholic:

Not eating the body of Christ leads to death; but
Eating the body of Christ leads to life.

But there's another way to express the same thing from a human perspective:

Consuming what is only human leads to the walking dead; but
Consuming what is divine leads to waking up the dead. 

Like the film, this latter MPPS touches on the problems associated with conspicuous consumption (the opening scene was filmed outside the famous MALL OF AMERICA) and that change in human behavior is possible, not inevitable (e.g. a resurrection from the dead).

Mitch Davis (Fantasia Film Festival)
It's been called everything from 'Christian trash art' to 'hilarious silent movie spoof', and Jon Springer's strange little zombie film is a bit of both. It's also a ride through the history of film language, incorporating 20's iris-in's, 60's docu style, 70's splatter and beyond, from Carl dreyer to George Romero, complete with a Zappa tune and an appearance by Mark Borchardt, all shot in 35mm at 18 f/p/s. Lots of grisly fun and a VERY impressive achievement.
Minneapolis City Pages
Christian trash art that has been vacuum-cleaned of messianic pomposity.
Ain't it Cool News
A hilarious silent-movie spoof...Romero-style gorefest.

Click HERE to play the movie.

Please share the link.