#STORY11 :: Ian Cron

Ian Morgan Cron is an author, speaker, Episcopal priest, psychotherapist, and retreat guide.

To introduce others to St. Francis of Assisi, he authored Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale. His literary debut received accolades from The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Fr Richard Rohr, Phyllis Tickle, Marcus Borg, Brian McLaren, and artist Makoto Fujimura.

Thomas Nelson released Ian’s spiritual memoirJesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: A Memoir…Of Sorts in June 2011. Publishers Weekly described the book as, “Simultaneously redemptive and consoling with bright moments of humor…a story chock-full of sacredness and hope.”

 

  • I priest I am. For me the world is sacramental. The world is eucharistic in shape. It is rife with the urgent immediacy of the living God.
  • For me advancement on the spiritual road isn’t about moralism. It isn’t about an improved behavior in my life. It is about waking up to the idea that the earth is brimming with God.
  • I thought I would begin by reading you an abridged chapter of my book.
  • I would have given anything for my father’s love not to be a secret.
  • Boys with fathers who keep their love disclosed go banging from guard rail to guard rail, trying to figure out why their fathers kept their love a secret.
  • Writing your life story is a terrifying exercise.
  • It is kinda funny though.
  • Your friends will start to call and ask you not to put stories in it from high school.
  • Or you get calls from other people who ask you to put certain stories in.
  • Then you get your family interrogating you about what you’re exactly going to say. Then you receive death threats from your own mother :)
  • Even your grandmother threatens to kick your ass if you put a certain story in.
  • Then the next phase are the voices in your own head saying “are you kidding, you can’t tell people this about your life.”
  • About 30 pages into the book I panicked.
  • I went to a Catholic retreat center outside of San Francisco to chill out and try to write and hangout with nuns.
  • While I was there I met with one of these nuns. She gives spiritual exercises and asks good questions. I got this little spark plug in this nun.
  • She asks, “Why did you do this to begin with?” And I said I don’t know. Finally she says “You absolutely know why. You spend the next few days asking your heart and it will eventually tell you.”
  • That wasn’t the first time I felt like punching a nun. I took her word. And the answer did come to me. It was strange.
  • It was to write my story of growing up with an abusive alcoholic father. To write about my own profound struggle with alcoholism, and now 24 years of sobriety.
  • Finally telling the truth.
  • You know how hard it is to come out and tell the truth.
  • I grew up in a world where the rules were don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel. Don’t tell the truth.
  • In telling the story it was an act of protest. It was an act of resistance. It was an act of pushing back against the darkness with the truth.
  • You know the feeling. Something that you have in your life that you think God can’t redeem. We all have something that stalks our histories.
  • So I want to ask you a question…In what field has God called you as an artist and creative to subvert the powers, to apply paint to your canvas, to push back the darkness, until the King returns to finish the job.
  • We are all members of the resistance movement.
  • I hear all the time, “You really need a platform. You need a brand.” How trivializing. There is something so much more transcendent that we are about. You aren’t the warmer bags for the sermon. You are an artist. You are a creative. That is a noble and high calling.
  • Don’t allow others to trivialize what you do. or to use it as propaganda.
  • You my friends are subversives. When the front door of people’s intellects are close, you sneak in the door of their imagination.
  • If you work in the church, you’re pastor can’t do that.
  • The human mind is waiting at the front door of intellect. But you come in the back door of the imagination when they aren’t watching, and you plant a little bomb and sneak out. Then someday someone is leaping out in the hallway, and it wasn’t the pastor’s talk, it was your art.
  • All art is speaking in tongues. Whether you know it or not you are a charismatic if you’re an artist.
  • When human language fails we must default to simple melody. Something else that will carry the day. A different language. And you are purveyors of that language. It is so noble.
  • It is also transgressive. It is subversive. It dares to cross lines.
  • My mother was furious that I was writing this book. She is very closed. In much kinder words I said “You don’t own the intellectual property rights on my suffering.” I transgressed a line.
  • As I was writing the book we met in restaurants and I read my mother each chapter. We cried together in restaurants. People in these restaurants thought I was breaking up with her. :)
  • How many credibly important conversations took place with my mother that never would’ve taken place unless I would’ve transgressed the line of my heart.
  • Just because you’re a follower of Jesus don’t be afraid to transgress the lines.
  • Windel Berry said “The significance and quality of the work we do is determined by the quality of the story we are taking part.”
  • I learned in the process of writing my story how we need to sit in the ruble and devastation of our own personal history.
  • What an artist has to do is to walk through the debris field that is in each of our lives.
  • There is a child within. It is that child that whispers into your ear. Many of us have exiled the child.
  • We have all experienced abandonment and betrayal. You have to name the losses. Grief is the most frightening emotion in the world.
  • You have to turn over the engine and you must describe the tears that came when it occurred.
  • Only then will you be able to see the thread of grace that goes through your life. Where God was.
  • An artist who hasn’t done their work in the debris field and haven’t gone to those places of brokenness and darkness, the child is still in exile.
  • To be an integrated person you must welcome that child home, but there is a price to pay.
  • Don’t get stuck in the debris field. That is called getting addicted to the wound. You must pass through it.
  • Allow the rush of the salt water of the ocean to pour through the wound and clean it.
  • And then tell the world that you are alive.
  • The problem is that most Christians won’t do it.
  • you want to find out what your grief is, stop your addiction. Your little kid will tell you what needs to be grieved.
  • If you don’t go there then you can’t create serious art. You have no credibility. You haven’t been to your darkness. And people will know it.
  • You have no foil in which to place the light unless you’ve been to the dark.
  • There is no crime worse in art than sentimentalism. That is going after a cheap emotion born out of falsehood.
  • Christianity doesn’t need anymore sentimental art. Even God would puke at some of the stuff that is created in Christianity.
  • Do your work. Grieve. It passes. 
  • Beauty can save the world. That isn’t contradictory to the Gospel. Capital “B” Beauty is going to save the world. Because the one who stands behind it is going to save the world. 
  • Be transgressors. Be subversives. Be courageous. Know that you’re beautiful. You’re not a commodity, or platform or brand. You’re a resistance movement member, pushing back the darkness so that light can be seen to save the world. 

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