Called Out of Darkness

Called Out of Darkness Cover

"Called Out of Darkness" Cover

As I mentioned in Week in Review: Connections Edition, Anne Rice’s Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008) offers a number of comments on education.  The tension which Rice wrestled with in her call as a writer speaks to a reality encountered by many in the higher education, i.e., a confusing mixture of encouragement/discouragement offered by human beings in the role of shaping/teaching youth transitioning to their respective vocational roles in the larger culture.

“I took to the freedom of college, and navigating amid interesting classes and lecturers; and I responded strongly to complete lectures which enabled me to learn without the necessity of cumbersome and difficult books.   The classes in sociology and in journalism and in music appreciation were particularly illuminating.  The classes in English were discouraging.  I made less-than-perfect grades because I wasn’t considered an effective writer.  And the atmosphere of the English classes was disciplinary and confining.

‘We may assume,’ said the teacher, ‘that there are no Hemingways or Faulkners in this classroom.  Therefore we expect you to write in decent sentences.’  I loathed the very idea of assuming mediocrity.  I barely got by.

The one story I submitted to the college literary magazine was rejected.  I was told it wasn’t a story” (p.76).

So how did Anne Rice emerge as a creative writer without the support of her professors?  Peer encouragement, with memories extending back to 5th grade, and I would add the grace of God fused with the determined, educational vision nurtured by her parents.  Have you faced similar challenges to your sense of vocation/call?  If so, how have you overcome?  For those who are currently in the role of educators, what recommendations do you have regarding how to encourage creative students?

Note:  I find it of interest that Rice later

wrote novels about people who are shut out of life for various reasons.  In fact, this became a great theme of my novels — how one suffers as an outcast, how one is shut out of various levels of meaning and, ultimately out of human life itself (p.78).

In Friday’s Week in Review, we’ll have some links to articles highlighting the role/value of monsters.  At present, Rice’s books on Jesus are on my too read shelf. Can anyone comment as to how/whether these books highlight the theme of being an outcast?

Note:  Updated 10/28/2009, 8:45 am.

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!

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One Comment

  • W. Brian Lane commented on October 29, 2009 Reply

    “For those who are currently in the role of educators, what recommendations do you have regarding how to encourage creative students?”

    I was challenged recently at a seminar at our university’s Center for Teaching & Learning about writing objectives for our courses that describe what we want our students to understand and be able to do at the end of a course. Teaching physics, this can be a difficult process, since our knee-jerk reaction is just to say, “They should be able to solve the problems.”

    But really thinking through the learning objective process led me to further develop my conception of what I want the students to understand–regardless of how that understanding is manifested–and I find now that I have a lot more room for student creativity on term papers and lab exercises. And amazingly enough, they perform better on the more traditional problem-solving questions in such an environment.

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