If I Only Had a Brain!

By Nathan On April 18th, 2017 | 13 views

It’s still Tuesday! I have less than an hour to post a bonus blog this week!

This was originally an essay I wrote for a writers group. Our assignment this month was to write about our favorite character from The Wizard of Oz. It was something I hadn’t considered before, but I figured it out quickly. Considering the film version is one of my mother’s favorite movies, I watched it a lot growing up. 

Maybe I should use this character’s song for a ballroom dance showcase…

***

Maybe it’s because he’s the first character Dorothy meets in her journey to Oz. Maybe it’s because his song seems to be the most iconic (and referenced) ditty in what’s already one of the best-known soundtracks in film history. Maybe it’s because, even as a kid, I had great respect for intelligence. Or maybe it’s because he’s the character I see the most of myself in.

Yes, after thinking about it, with many wonderful characters to choose from, I’ve realized my favorite character in L. Frank Baum’s fantasy classic The Wizard of Oz is the Scarecrow. That lovable straw man who, ironically, wants to have a brain.

While I’ve always been in need of more courage and I’m not lacking in heart, the Scarecrow was the character whose plight and desires I understood best. I was always an information sponge. I sought knowledge, useless or not, as much as possible. Yet I often felt like I wasn’t as smart as I wished I was. Sometimes it was because people denigrated me, but mostly it was because of my own perfectionism. Any grades less than A’s weren’t good enough. I didn’t just have to do well, I had to excel. This was especially true when my competition got more intense in college. I had far more people to compare myself to, making me wonder if I was only considered to be “smart” because standards had been lowered.

He was also the one who, in my many viewings of the classic film growing up, I could most easily see developed as a character. As the titular Wizard tells Dorothy’s friends at the end, they were never lacking for the things they sought. However, while the Lion did perform acts of bravery, he did so while whimpering. The Tin Man was certainly compassionate, but that didn’t register with me as much as a kid. The Scarecrow, however, was always the one coming up with clever plans—often on the fly—to help to overcome whatever obstacles he and his friends faced. Whether it was something simple like tricking Talking Trees (one thing all good stories must have) to get their apples for Dorothy or as dangerous as figuring out how to infiltrate the Wicked Witch’s castle. He could think on his feet, and while his plans didn’t always work out, he could find another solution.

This brings me to something else I like about the Scarecrow: leadership. He’s usually the one taking charge of the situation because the Tin Man is overwhelmed by his emotions and the Lion is freaking out. He calms them down and gives them focus. In fact, he’s the one with the coolest head when things get rough, even when they’re being chased by the Witch’s armies. Given that he’s “the man with the plan,” it shouldn’t be surprising.

Finally, I’ve always found the Scarecrow to be the funniest character in the film version. Ray Bolger is fantastic at physical comedy, and his expressions are hilarious. It makes the Scarecrow even more endearing. Just watch him sing his famous song. He moves like how you’d expect a man made of straw to move. Not only is it funny, it’s top-notch characterization. I’ve not really seen that in any other adaptation of the story.

It’s time I ended this little blog. As the Scarecrow himself said, “Well, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?

Who’s your favorite character from The Wizard of Oz and why?

 

Why Christians are Lousy at Romance

By Nathan On April 11th, 2017 | 209 views

The title of this blog is a bit misleading. I’m not saying that Christians are terrible at being in romantic relationships. That’s a whole other subject. No, I’m saying they’re terrible at writing stuff like love songs and love stories.

This train of thought came about because of a conversation I had with some friends on my personal Facebook page. We were discussing songs I’d consider using for a first dance if I got married, one of which was “Godsend” by dc Talk. One friend commented that she didn’t think that was that good of a song and that most Christian artists were bad at writing love songs. I asked her why she thought that, and she replied (in all caps for humorous emphasis) “BECAUSE OMG(osh) IF PEOPLE LISTEN TO LOVE SONGS THEN THEY MIGHT GET SINFUL IDEAS. PROTECT THE PURITY!!!”

I laughed because it was true.

Since my youth, I’ve known about the three primary words used for “love” in ancient Greek: eros (sexual/romantic love), phileo (friendship), and agape (unconditional love). The latter two were used in the Bible, but not the first. While it was often preached that all three were needed to have a thriving marriage, the huge emphasis was placed on agape because it was correctly said that unconditional love required commitment, and commitment was sorely lacking in many modern marriages. Too often, though, eros was barely acknowledged or it was forgotten, relegated to being the least of the loves.

This, sadly, is a huge fault of western (or just American?) Christian culture. They have so overcompensated for a secular culture that both exploits and worships sex and romance that they have almost demonized it. Now, this isn’t a new problem. There’s always been a sect of ascetics somewhere in Christianity that held to views like this. This was influenced by Gnosticism, a belief that what was of the spirit was good and what was of the body was evil. While it was regarded as heresy, some Gnostic thought has infiltrated some Christian teaching like an insidious disease. This is most true when it comes to Christian culture’s view of sexuality. Sexual desire was equated with the sin of lust. Women’s bodies were seen as weapons of temptation. Men were seen as animals incapable of controlling their urges. This has wreaked havoc on Christian young people, as you might expect. Even I wasn’t totally immune to it growing up despite having sensible parents.

Even if sexuality wasn’t seen as a vice, there were still those who minimized its importance because it was believed Christians—particularly young people—placed too much of an emphasis on romantic feelings and not on “true love.” In other words, agape. Eros didn’t last; it was selfish because it focused on one person and his/her immediate “needs.” It wasn’t what made a marriage last. It’s like eros was the ugly middle child the family acknowledged only out of obligation. I’ve even heard of Christian romance novels (I hate using that term as a genre) where the woman in the couple acts as though she has no sexual desire at all, and this is presented as a good thing!

This is why many Christian creators don’t write much about romance, preferring to focus on agape, phileo, and/or loving God. Those are safer. There are plenty more positive Bible passages on those subjects. They forget the Bible has its fair share of love stories (Jacob and Rachel, Ruth and Boaz, etc.) Heck, if you really want to shock some Christians, make them read Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs)! Yes, the Bible has love poetry in it—and it’s steamy, at that!

Even when Christians do write about romance, it’s often watered down or presented as an allegory for the love of God for the Church. This, I think, is an example of some Christians becoming, as the old saying goes, “too heavenly-minded to be of any earthly good.” While the Church is called the “bride of Christ,” the Bible never uses romantic language to describe that love. Even the Song of Solomon has been interpreted not as the sultry interactions of two lovers but as a metaphor for Christ and the Church. (I’d love to see how they’d handle passages like this one, then).

God created romance. God created sex. Genesis says God looked at all He created and called it “good.” This included sex and romance. The Bible begins with the “wedding” of Adam and Eve, the first lovers, who were unashamed in their nakedness and love for each other. It was the Fall that ruined things. But sex isn’t a byproduct of sin. The Devil, being evil, is incapable of creating anything. He can only corrupt what was already good. He did the same with sexuality and romance. It’s him who compels humanity to exploit it as a commodity or to worship it as an idol. They were God’s creations, His gifts to mankind. The Devil knows how precious and powerful those gifts are, how they can bind two people together and make them a powerful force for good. That’s why He fears them and wants to see them denigrated.

It’s time Christian creators stopped fearing sex. It’s time they elevated eros as being equal with the other loves. It’s time they took back what was taken from them by the Devil.

I, for one, would love to be a part of that.

Do you think Christian creators need to work on being “romantic”? Why or why not? Can you name any good examples of good love songs or love stories written by Christians? Why do you think Christians are bad at writing romances?

My Writing, My Identity

By Nathan On March 28th, 2017 | 231 views

Should I even apologize for neglecting to blog? It’s becoming a bad habit. Sorry, True Believers!

Part of the reason for my absence lately is my increasing busyness. I’ve written often about time management, and while some of my busyness is my own doing, much of it lately has been thrust upon me by outside forces. Most notably, my “day job.” Whenever people quit or are unavailable—as has been happening recently—it invariably throws more responsibility on me because I’m competent, reliable, and available. It’s supposed to be a part-time job, but I’ve been getting full-time hours (which has led me to call it “my part-time full-time job”). This has eaten into my writing time like Pac-Man would an apple.

I’m not happy at my day job.

There, I said it.

I took this job thinking it would be temporary and would allow me time to pursue my true passions. While I’m grateful to have the steady income and enjoy (most of) my co-workers, I feel like I’m not doing what God created me to do. When I have to work long hours and lose writing time, I feel this most potently. I get annoyed when people see me not as a writer, an author, an artist, and/or a creator but as my day job. I don’t care if it’s, unfortunately, where the majority of my time is going. It does not define me. It is not what I want to be doing. If I had my way, I’d be living like most of the great writers, who spend eight hours a day working away on their craft.

As you would expect, I’ve been reflecting on my identity. I think of myself as a writer. That’s what I tell people I do for a living. Yes, I add that I’m working a part-time day job until I can write full-time, but writing is always mentioned first and foremost. That’s why I hate when I have weeks (or months) where the day job consumes more of my time. I start to feel like I’m lying to people. Most of all, I fear complacency will seize me, and I’ll stop writing, resigned to the humdrum of my daily labor.

However, in order to have a healthy identity, I believe, one must have a multifaceted one. I’m not just a writer. I want that to be a bigger part of me (and I do believe it is already a big part), but it isn’t all of my identity. Lisa Edelstein said in the movie Keeping the Faith, “I am many things, no one thing defines me.” (FYI, I found that quotation with a Google search. I’ve not seen the movie). I’m also a Christian, a man, a brother, a son, a conservative, a gamer, and a ballroom dancer, among many others. By having so many smaller identities within my larger one, it prevents me from becoming totally dependent on any one of them for my self-worth. I could, God forbid, be in a car accident tomorrow that damages my hands or my brain, thereby robbing me of the ability to write. It would be devastating, but hopefully once the dust of grief settled, I’d have other things to fall back on to form a new identity.

In the meantime, I’m gonna keep fighting to preserve and protect my writing time!

What facets make up your identity? Are you too dependent on one or two? If you’re a writer, what else are you? How would you cope with losing part of identity?

Weekend Report: Michigan Statewide Youth Convention

By Nathan On March 10th, 2017 | 291 views

Eric Anderson (left) and I representing Nerd Chapel at the Michigan Statewide Youth Convention.

My friend/co-author Eric Anderson, founder of Nerd Chapel, tabled at a convention last weekend, though it wasn’t a comic-con. No, it was the Michigan Statewide Youth Convention in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Eric got a table there to promote Nerd Chapel, part of which was selling our devotional, 42: Discovering Faith Through Fandom. He asked to attend to help him out. I was only able to make it Saturday (the event ran from Friday to Sunday), but Saturday was when most of the action happened.

It took me a little longer than I expected to arrive (closer to two hours instead of 90 minutes), but that gave me extra time to listen to the audiobook of That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, which I’d been meaning to read for a while. I arrived at the Radisson Hotel in downtown, and after fighting with way too many one-way streets (and I thought downtown Fort Wayne had too many), I barely stepped out of my car before an older black woman came up to me begging me to give her money for gas so she could get back to Gary, Indiana, going on about loving Jesus and thanking Him like a southern Baptist. Against my better judgment, I gave her some money. She said she’d pay me back through the mail the following Monday, so I wrote my address on one of my bookmarks and gave it to her. Honestly, I feel like I got suckered. I’m going soft.

Anyway, I walked inside and connected with Eric. Since it was lunchtime, we explored the area looking for a place to eat. We had a short time because he was holding a session at 2pm about using your passions missionally. We tried Subway, but the line was too long. Then we walked a few blocks to a local McDonald’s.

I watched the table for a bit while Eric was downstairs for the session. He asked me to join him a little later because he wanted me to talk a bit about the work I’d done as a Christian in the publishing industry. I mostly stood to the side while Eric did most of the talking, which is a switch for us, usually. I spoke about meeting a young would-be writer at Gen-Con a few years ago at my table and talking with him for almost 45 minutes. Then a bit later he gave me the floor to talk about working in the publishing industry. Eric closed the session with a Q&A. First, he asked if anyone had any serious questions, of which there were few, and then he opened it up to “nerd” questions, of which there were many. A few students even specifically asked me questions about writing. I spent a half-hour talking with several students about comics, Star Wars, and anime afterward.

The rest of the afternoon was relatively quiet. I spoke with some of the people from the other ministries around us. Eric and I had dinner at the fancy bar and grill in the hotel (courtesy of the convention). When the main session was about to start at 7pm, lots of students and youth leaders came to us wanting to learn more about Nerd Chapel or buy books. They said they loved what we were doing and that they’d never heard of ministries like this. Eric and I were encouraged to hear that.

It was once again quiet during the main session. Eric ran lights during it, while I stayed outside the auditorium to watch the table and do some writing. Then for about 30 minutes afterward at 9pm, I was talking with people and selling books. I even met a teenage girl who was once part of a nerd ministry/club/Facebook group with us. She had pink hair to boot.

With that, I joined Eric downstairs in the game room where teens could play video games—include Nintendo 64(!)—and board games. I brought my copies of Star Wars: Epic Duels and Sentinels of the Multiverse. As you’d expect, Epic Duels was a big hit. I played with several teen boys who’d seen me earlier in the day at Eric’s session. We geeked out and had a great time. One of their mothers watched for a few minutes, knowing her son would probably want the game. He did. I told him, “Good luck. The game usually sells for a hundred dollars now.” He seemed determined, though.

I departed for home after that.

All in all, it was a good weekend. Eric and I sold many books and made ourselves known to more people.

Here’s Eric’s blog about the weekend.

This weekend I attend Hall of Heroes Comic-Con in Elkhart, Indiana, though not as a vendor.

English Grammar is Racist?!

By Nathan On March 7th, 2017 | 284 views

So much BS in 140 characters.

(Note to my readers: I’m getting back into the habit of blogging on my normal basis. It’s proven to be difficult with my busyness. My apologies).

I’ve heard, read, and sometimes written a lot of BS in my life, but yesterday I heard something on a local radio talk show that has officially on my top five list of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard:

Proper English grammar is racist.

Really?

Really?

REALLY?

It was part of a press release from the University of Washington Tacoma’s Writing Center, which said, 

“Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English. Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.”

The Center’s director, Dr. Asoa Inoue, went further by asserting that racism has created unfair standards in education itself. “Racism is pervasive. It is in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes, school, and society.”

I read this press release, the statement itself, and the response from the university when the controversy ignited. While I don’t normally get political in my blogs, this so annoyed me because it touches on something important to me, and I thought I should say something.

First, all of UW’s claims seem to be generalizations. There are no specifics offered. I assume they think people make racist assumptions based on how others talk and write. In other words, if they don’t use “proper” grammar, they presume they’re uneducated and/or stupid based on how they communicate. If they have a certain accent and are of a certain ethnicity, this reinforces certain negative prejudices. At least, that’s how I understand what UW is saying. The statement goes so far as to say that English grammar is somehow full of “microagressions.” How it does is never explained in clear detail. Honestly, the statements seem to have more to do with education than language itself.

The problem with this is it ignores reality and cast a shadow on those, like myself, who pride themselves on communicating clearly with good grammar. Yes, English is constantly changing and evolving. Listen to a few episodes of “The History of English” podcast to see that. But something else you’ll learn from that podcast is that accents and dialects denote someone’s upbringing, culture, and education level. It’s simply a fact. (Yes, I know there are plenty of intelligent people out there who speak in dialects that use less-than-perfect grammar). The problem isn’t language and grammar; it’s people who don’t take the time to get to know someone based on how that person communicates. This is equivalent to blaming a murder on the gun and not the murderer. Does it make me some pretentious racist because I say, “My friend and I,” instead of, “My friend and me”?

UW released another press release responding to the controversy probably because the “blogosphere” brought up an obvious problem: if proper English is racist, why teach it? UW’s Writing Center said,

“The Writing Center statement is not about changing the standard for how UW Tacoma teaches commonly accepted English, grammar and composition. UW Tacoma students achieve thorough proficiency in grammar and English expected in higher education and the workplace. Faculty demand a high level of writing proficiency. Our graduates are successful in a wide array of fields.”

Sounds like backpedaling to me. They claim that teaching proper grammar makes people racist because they assume those who don’t use it and instead speak in a dialect will be seen as ignorant, and since most dialects are used by minorities, it reinforces racism. Yet they say they will teach students English to help them be successful. In other words, they know students need to learn good written communication skills to excel in their vocations despite it fostering racism. So, does that mean all great orators, writers, and communicators are all racist? Isn’t the university teaching racism by teaching proper grammar? They can’t have it both ways.

If I met a black person who talked like Snoop Dogg in this commercial, I wouldn’t understand him. I’d probably assume he listened to rap music and might possibly be a thug along with some other presumptions. Why? Because that’s what is commonly associated with people who talk like that. That doesn’t make me racist. It’d simply be reality. Now, would that stop me from talking with the person? No. Would I be surprised to find out he wasn’t a gangster? Probably. But I wouldn’t be so closeminded as to assume this person couldn’t be an intelligent, upstanding member of society.

Language is part of one’s self-presentation. People will make judgments for good or ill based on how one speaks. That is a fact. Labeling people “racist” because of this will only breed more tension and resentment. Must we all speak in the same dialect/accent/language? That is impossible to do. That is, unless, you suspend all English education. It’s much easier to speak in broken, dumbed down English. Doing that, however, will only create chaos because communication will be hampered.

All of this just seems like yet more propaganda insisting there’s still an epidemic of racism in this country, and that people are racist without knowing it. Haven’t you noticed how more and more stories keep hitting the news claiming innocuous things are somehow racist? It seems to be a determined effort to either make some people feel guilty for being “racist” when they aren’t or to convince others they’re victims of racism when they aren’t. That’s as much as I want to say on the subject because going further would require more words and time than I can give right now. I’ll simply say that nothing lasting can be built on a foundation of guilt, anger, and/or hatred.

Thanks for reading this blog full of “racist” English grammar.

What are your thoughts on this? Is proper English grammar somehow racist?

New Video: Digression 16: Valentine’s Day Karaoke 2017 – ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck’ by Rod Stewart

By Nathan On February 16th, 2017 | 266 views

Here’s the other video. Enjoy!

Digression 16: Valentine’s Day Karaoke 2017 – “Some Guys Have All the Luck” by Rod Stewart

The annual tradition returns! This year’s song is a little different, though. Normally I sing what I like to call “hopeful songs of longing for love,” but this year I decided to go with a classic ’80s ditty that describes my love life to a tee. I’m sure it does for many of you, too. Enjoy!

Please comment, subscribe, and share!

New Video: NERD RAGE! Episode 2: Fifty Shades ANGRIER!

By Nathan On February 16th, 2017 | 260 views

Since I haven’t posted in a while due to time and illness, I decided I would share with you the two newest videos on my YouTube channel. These include an overdue second episode of “NERD RAGE!” (wherein I once again dare to rant about a certain book/movie trilogy I hate) and my annual Valentine’s Day Karaoke video. Here’s the first. Enjoy!

“NERD RAGE!”
Hosted by Nathan Marchand
It’s been a while since I posted an episode of “NERD RAGE!”, so I decided it would be appropriate to make a sequel to my infamous #FiftyShadesOfGrey rant since that stupid movie has a sequel opening this weekend. I don’t get as crazy this time around since nobody got the joke the last time or chose to ignore it. #FiftyShadesDarkerSo bring it on, trolls! Bring. It. On!

Cheating Sleep

By Nathan On February 7th, 2017 | 414 views

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”

That’s a sentiment I’ve heard often in the last few years. It’s spoken by either workaholics or braggarts who pride themselves on being able to function on little or no sleep. The sad thing is this is usually seen as a good thing, especially in the United States, which has a culture that idolizes work. Honestly, in many cases, it’s nothing more than disguised greed.

There was a recent episode of Doctor Who entitled “Sleep No More” that touched on this. The Doctor and his Companion, Clara, come to a space station whose crew was conducting sleep experiments, but the station has now gone dark, most of the crew killed. The Doctor discovers that the crew was developing a means to allow humans to get through the day with less than an hour of sleep so as to increase productivity. He was angered by this, accusing them of trying to “cheat nature” in their arrogance. Then, in true Doctor Who fashion, the “sleep dust” (the crust often found in tear ducts after much sleep) all collected into murderous monsters thanks to that sleep-cheating process.

What intrigued me about this episode is its theme was something I’d been contemplating for a while at the time. Call me crazy, but I think God designed humans to require sleep as a means of keeping them humble. If they were able to function without it, they would either become lazy (or lazier) or, more likely, they would get to the same point they did with the Tower of Babel, looking upon their accomplishments and thinking themselves gods. (The sad thing is there are people now who, in one form or another, think this already).

However, research tells us that humans need at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Think about that: that’s a third of a day. Some look at that and, much like those scientists in that Doctor Who episode, say that’s a waste. What they don’t realize is that it’s part of an ideal balance for one’s life. For eight hours you sleep, and for eight hours you work. That leaves eight hours to spend doing whatever you want. Everything is equal. But as is typical with human beings, they want to tip that balance, and that often requires eating into sleep time. Heck, there’s at least one entire industry built around cheating sleep: energy drinks. From Red Bull to Monster to 5-Hour Energy, their marketing centers around giving you a boost to do more. That could be doing more work so you could have a bigger paycheck or staying up late playing video games. (These are just two examples). Unfortunately, as I’ve observed myself, people become addicted to energy drinks to the point that they can’t function without them. If they don’t have one, they crash, and they crash hard. Then they run the risk of drinking too many and overstimulating their hearts until they explode (their hearts, I mean. I doubt energy drinks make people explode). 😛

I’m not saying one should never use energy drinks or that one can always get eight hours of sleep a night. For example, parents with newborns will lose sleep because they must care for the baby. Some people also have health issues that can cause insomnia. Stuff like that aside, it’s best not to make a habit to lose sleep. It will catch up to you. Trust me, I know.

What do you think? Would humanity become more arrogant if it could function with little or no sleep? What would happen? Do you try to “cheat nature” by avoiding sleep? How has that worked out for you?

Ankle Pickers, Episode 4: No Teabagging Allowed (enhanced version)

By Nathan On February 2nd, 2017 | 270 views

“Ankle Pickers”
Hosted by Nathan Marchand, Sergio Garza, and Bill Miller

(You may have seen be post a version of this video earlier this week. I was having trouble with one of my video editing programs, but I wanted to have something posted, so I posted that version. Here’s the “complete” (or should I say “komplete”) version. Enjoy!)

(UPDATE: I was informed that there are audio issues with this version of the video. Once again, I blame the video editor. My apologies, viewers. After posting this video *three times,* I’ve finally managed to fix the problem. Enjoy!)

It’s been a month, but the Ankle Pickers are back! In our highly topical episode, we discuss the recently-announced ban on teabagging at the Killer Instinct World Cup because losing players were threatening the winners with real-life violence. We discuss whether taunting altogether should be banned, then.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Should teabagging/taunting be banned?

Please comment, subscribe, and share!

The Spark of Madness

By Nathan On January 19th, 2017 | 296 views

 

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. And if you lose that…you’re nothing.”

This was said by the late, great Robin Williams during one of his stand-up routines in the late 1970s. It started making the rounds again shortly after his death a few years ago, which was when I saw it. The routine was strangely ironic yet fitting because Mr. Williams was pretending to be himself as an old man.

All of that aside, what struck me were the words themselves. I’ve mulled them over in my mind many times since hearing them. They communicate something that, at least to me, is both obvious and yet hard to explain. They resound with me as an artist and raging creative. Considering I’m “weird” even compared to some of my fellow artists, I found those words even more poignant.

Artists—whether they be painters, writers, dancers, etc.—simply don’t think like everyone else. Their minds entertain all sorts of unusual possibilities. They revel in ideas and concepts. They obsess over how to explore those ideas in new ways. This makes them difficult to understand and, at times, to appreciate. Just think about the countless stories about young filmmakers or authors who grew up with blue collar parents who didn’t understand how their creative children could make a living with their art. Often they would pressure them to not pursue their dreams in favor of something “normal.” This would often force those artists to squelch their creativity and personality, making them deny who they were.

As a Christian, I believe I serve a creative God. He made mankind in His image. Part of that image is creativity. The “little spark of madness” Robin Williams spoke of? I think that’s a piece of the “divine spark”—the “breath of life,” as Genesis puts it—imbued into each human being by God Himself. To ignore this spark, to bury it, to “hide it under a bushel” (as the old song says), is tantamount to denying God, and by extension, reduces a human being to a machine.

As Mr. Williams said, it’s only a “little spark,” which I would say is a tiny piece of the overabundance of creativity possessed by God. He generously shares it with humans. But because of that, it is fragile and can be lost. Too often the world berates those who are creative, whether out of fear or jealousy or something else, not realizing that their personal little worlds are touched and enhanced by art. How often do those people come home from a long day at work and watch TV or Netflix? Without artists, there would be no content for them to consume. Even those who are Christians sometimes fail to see that God didn’t create a strictly utilitarian universe. A quick look out their window would show them this. For example, leaves turn bright colors in autumn not just because their chlorophyll is depleted in preparation for winter, but because God wanted that time of year to look like a unique, earthy tapestry.

If you’re a creative, you owe it to yourself to hold onto that “little spark of madness.” Don’t let anyone take it from you. That may be hard to do, but in the end, you’ll be doing yourself and others a tremendous favor. Art enhances life, and artists are the means by which that art can touch the world.

What advice would you give those who want to retain their “little spark of madness”?