So I have set myself up to somehow convince you that a man you may never have heard of should be famous, more famous than he might be in circles where he is already known. I am fairly sure that I do not yet have the kind of credibility that would just let me say, "because I said so" and you would automatically agree. I might actually have to do a little bit of a sales job here.
David, if this effort to increase your popularity fails in any way, please know that the cause is purely my lack of persuasion skills and not any lack of worthiness on your part.
I think we need to start with the fact that David Dark is already an author of consequence and stature. The Wikipedia article about him qualifies itself as a stub, which is true - it is too short. One of David's loyal fans needs to go edit and enlarge the article. (Somebody get on that, okay?) The Amazon author page that bears his name does not give much more information, but at least they offer you the chance to buy his three books. A quick Google search will lead you to an article he has written and some YouTube videos of David expounding on several topics. I'm sure there is more to be found if you but take the time.
I will admit that I have watched only one of the videos and have not read the article or any of the books (I have one on order right now). Why, then, would I be concerned with multiplying the reach of David's fame? Didn't I only just meet him this past weekend at the Writers' Retreat? I was not even aware of his existence prior to this event, so isn't it curious that I am already prepared to lobby my small constituency to fancy him?
I would have to admit that I am biased. Of course I am. Why would someone who is detached and impartial bother to increase one man in another's favor? That idea makes no sense to me.
I suppose you want to know why I am biased toward David. It started with one of the first statements that he directed to me specifically. The group of us who were in his non-fiction workshop were taking turns introducing ourselves. When it came to my turn, I started by questioning David. He had told us that he was from Nashville, but his accent is not one that I would recognize as being from anywhere in Tennessee (or any parts near there). So I asked him how he came by his accent. His answer? "I'm just pretentious." And he meant it.
The man is unpretentious about being pretentious. We were connecting for the first time and he was already an oxymoron in my life. I probably would not have needed further convincing to be his cheerleader, but there is more! (wow - that sounds like an infomercial, doesn't it?)
There is the fact that we are part of the same tribe. David is just a few months younger than me and he also comes from the same rather narrow religious upbringing that I do. This means that we can speak a type of shorthand with each other about certain issues. Even so, David is very intelligent and not at all limited in his ability to talk about a variety of subjects. More importantly, he is not at all limited in his ability to listen. That should get him a few more brownie points on your fame tally card, yes?
Before I get into the meat of the gift he gave me - a convincing argument for more fame in my humble opinion - let me mention that David is Mr. Sarah Masen, meaning that he is the husband of a very amazing woman. Although Sarah was not the official musician for our retreat, she did perform a few songs for us and I was just wowed by her. I could go on and on just about Sarah, but increasing her fame will have to be a post for a later time. I mention her, though, because my logic is that if an amazing woman like Sarah wants to be married to David, then he must be pretty amazing too. More points in his favor.
So what awe-inspiring gift did David give to me? He actually gave it to all of us. He gave us a space - our own special space - for our voices. He did not come into our workshop all full of himself, wanting to talk about what he had accomplished. He really wanted to talk to us about our writing and where it was headed. There were quite a few new writers in the room and for them (us) to be given that gift was priceless. David reminded us to believe all the little affirmations we get about our writing. Pointing out that there are numerous ways for people to avoid giving compliments, he told us to always receive and believe the good things they say about our words. "Take seriously people letting you know that your words work."
David told us that our writing was important in "expanding the space of the talkaboutable" (a new word he created). Why do we need to expand this space? Why isn't it already big enough? [I'm going to quote some of what David said in an evening talk to all of us. It is very stream of consciousness and I am typing while listening to him talk on a CD, so I hope to capture the thoughts well.]
"One thing that keeps us quiet and keeps us frightened and unwilling to be as candid with one another as we could be... is just shame and self-contempt and the idea that parts of our lives...are not of interest to God or are so beyond the pale that we can't bring them into the light of God's redemptive purposes...We think that we're called to be good commercials for God or for Christianity, rather than being completely honest and transparent with every aspect of our existence." David says that talking about the whole human experience - including the messy parts - is "good work". So we expand this space of the talkaboutable "with our feats of candor and attentiveness and confession."
This was extremely significant to me. It came at such an important time. I am constantly surrounded by writers who produce lofty thoughts in lyrical manners. Yet I produce raw slices of my reality. I don't write essays that read like a press release touting some cause or idea. I give out the negative with the positive - possibly a well-rounded view, but not something that makes for a good daily devotional. This has been especially true in my work with the Never Beyond project, but really all of my writing seems to go from startling some people to making others just outright uncomfortable. For David to give worth to my transparency as something that accomplishes any positive task was inestimable.
There is so much that he said that impacted me. I cannot write it all down. Lest you think I am the only one who came away impressed with David, you can see a comment on my blog by a fellow workshop member, Sandra. She had already started reading one of David's books and said "it is amazing. Mind blowing, challenging stuff."
One more little thing that would not matter much to you but adds joy to my life is that David Dark - this member of my tribe - agreed to become a member of The Brothers Dave, a somewhat covert (not sure if that is on purpose) arm of my Big Brother Brigade. Maybe sometime I will tell you about them. Another long story for another long day.
I suppose all of these things make David Dark sort of a hero to me. And shouldn't we promote our real heroes and give them the recognition they deserve? There are so many to whom we give fame and fortune and yet they are not necessarily worthy of the honors we bestow upon them. Consequently, I believe David merits distinction and your high regard.
I believe I have done what I can to make my case for David's growing fame. You may certainly question me if you think I have been unclear or neglected some facet of my appeal.
I will leave you with a few of the little nuggets that David threw out at us over the course of the weekend. Enjoy!
*"There isn't a secular molecule in the universe."
*"Spirituality never enters a conversation. It is always already there."
*"Here's worship as well. It's what we do with our lives rather than something that could be reduced to a service or a Sunday morning situation."
*This work of being honest - of telling our stories as looking more deeply into our own experience and saying what we see is gospel, is a deeply evangelical work, if we want to put it that way. It's a multipartisan 'good news' work."
*"I try to not use words to describe other people that they wouldn't use to describe themselves. And I think that's part of Jesus' teaching about not calling anybody a fool - not speaking of anyone as if they're beyond redemption or just hell-fodder or something like that."
Sarah Masen-Dark, me, and David Dark
Laity Lodge, October 2, 2011