For the first time in my five-plus years writing the weekly Film Forum for Christianity Today Movies, I’m going on hiatus.

The lovely and talented JOSH HURST will be piloting the craft while I’m gone, and I’m sure I’ll be humbled by his zeal and competence.

I’ll return to that “desk” in June.

Right now, every spare moment is focused on my book about faith and film: Through a Screen Darkly.

The toughest challenge with the book, I’m finding, is that I have so many stories I want to tell, so many movies I want to review and recommend, so many humbling experiences when a film showed me how little I really understand, so many memorable conversations with moviegoers and artists, that I’m having trouble compressing it all into a 65,000 word volume. The story of how Christians engage with the big screen is more like a story the size of War and Peace.

This process of cutting out pieces that you love is a process some writers call “killing your darlings.” I find that inaccurate. These “darlings” aren’t dead. No, they are not at all silent when you cut them out. They cry out from the Recycle Bin, scream and yell, indignant, saying, “Put me back in! What are you thinking? You’re going to let this experience just go to waste?” They’re like the old man being hauled out to the death cart in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “I’m not dead! I feel happy! I think I’ll go for a walk!”

But I’m negotiating with myself on the matter by cutting out chapters I love and setting them aside as “online exclusives” for those who enjoy the book and want to read more… although it’s a bit presumptuous to think that anyone who reads a whole book of my ramblings about movies would actually want MORE. We’ll see.

I’ve told these stories in classrooms and seminars so many times now, I thought it would be easy to get them down on paper. But man, when you put it on paper, there’s a different kind of pressure… You can’t gesture or change your tone of voice as easily. You have to write it in such a way that ANY audience could get your point, not just those who can get the in-jokes. And well it’s going to be so PERMANENT when it’s on paper….

June 1st is coming very quickly, and there’s still so much to do. My new schedule: Up at 4:30 a.m. Work on the book. Go to my SPU job at 7:30 a.m. Work until 6 p.m. Go home. Eat dinner. Spend some time with Anne. Work on the book. Catch a few hours of sleep.

And on June 2nd, you’ll hear a cry not unlike Mel Gibson’s at the end of Braveheart: “FREEEEEEEEEEEEEDOM!!!”

(And then it’ll sink in that the sequel to Auralia’s Colors is due to the publisher in November.)

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