Chapter 7: Truth Exists Within a Narrative

Chapter 7: Truth Exists Within a Narrative

And I'm not sure that I'm hearing the story.

Spoken word and performance poetry is an increasingly recognized genre. I don't know that it is "mainstream" - whatever that means - but neither is it characteristically subcultural. The result of a growing appreciation for the art is a surge of people feeling more empowered to share their own. I'm all for that. I love that I'm playing more and more shows with folks who want to try their hand at poetry.

But spoken word is more than talking into a microphone. And poetry is more than a series of truth statements.

Chapter 6: Buzz Lightyear and Bryan Chapell

Chapter 6: Buzz Lightyear and Bryan Chapell
"When people in any creative profession merely cut up and reassemble what has come before, it gives the illusion of creativity, but it is craft without art. Craft is what we are expected to know. Art is the unexpected use of our craft."

When Ed Catmull voiced this concept, I thought of Bryan Chapell.

After a church-less couple of years as a younger man, I finally realized I needed men wiser than myself to help differentiate truths from lies, so I returned to a small-but-vibrant community in Albuquerque: City On A Hill, which would eventually become Mars Hill.

Chapter 5: [Dis]connected Creatives

Chapter 5: [Dis]connected Creatives

I started touring with a lot of Christian bands who no longer consider themselves such. And not in the we-are-still-Christians-but-we-don't-use-that-descriptor-for-our-art-anymore kind of way. I get that. I don't really push that noun as an adjective anymore either, but that's not what I mean.

A few years back, I toured through Knoxville, Tennessee, and spent some time talking to a promoter who'd booked shows for myself and many of the artists involved in the scene at the time. He was cycling through bands' names, reminiscing of the first shows he'd booked for them as ministry-driven artists with a passion for the gospel. He went on to describe the last times they'd come through as self-proclaimed... whatever-ists.

He talked about how disappointing it was; how sad it was; how surprised he was.

I was not surprised.

Chapter 4: Creation & Fall

Chapter 4: Creation & Fall

In the vein of our recent conversations surrounding creators (basically, people) as made in the image and likeness of God, I thought it might be appropriate to share something I wrote a few years ago about the first creation - the first image-bearers. The Beginning / The Separation is a contribution to a collective effort from thirteen different spoken-word and rap artists that take separate pieces of Scripture's redemptive, historical narrative and tell The Story Of God. This piece explores not only the image of God in man through his good and perfect creation, but also the distortion of that image - the broken mirror, if you will - at the fall. The piece dissects old lies that remain continual distortions of who God is as creator, and who we are as creation; a creation constantly erecting idols and reversing roles. Today, we find ourselves hopeful for freedom from those age-old lies biting at our heels, through the same promise of mercy given to our first parents:


Jesus has crushed the head of the serpent.

Chapter 3: Fear is Smashing into my Boat

Chapter 3: Fear is Smashing into my Boat

"Hi, I'm Levi. 

I'm twenty-six years old, and I am intimidated. It's amazing how as soon as someone gives you an opportunity to do something, or lead something, or voice something, all of the gun barrels filled with reasons why you shouldn't - all of the inadequacies and the inconsistencies and the failures and the yeah-I-really-don't-know-what-I'm-talking-abouts - empty their bullets into your brain..."

Chapter 2: Ratatouille in the Pet Sematary

Chapter 2: Ratatouille in the Pet Sematary

Years ago, I attended a conference in Seattle where Belief Agency’s Jesse Bryan and Invisible Creature’s Don Clarke delivered a lecture on creativity entitled, “Why Jesus Creates Art.” At the start of their lecture, they rolled out a large, full-body-sized mirror and hit it with a hammer, shattering it and leaving it broken and cracked with glass all over the ground.

When we first started talking about what it means to be a creator, I referenced Ed Catmull’s book on Pixar Animation (editor's note: Levi talked about Ed's book in his first post, which you can read here), and the way that he and his workforce act – perhaps unbeknownst to them – as reflections of an ultimate Creator. We all do this in one way or another, vocationally or not, when we use what we have at our disposal to imagine, or to problem solve, or to fix, or to make...

Chapter 1: Finding Nemo and Woody and Sully and God

Chapter 1: Finding Nemo and Woody and Sully and God

I've been reading a book called Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by the current president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, Ed Catmull. (If you get it, consider the audiobook - dude's voice is wonderful to listen to). The book begins with Catmull walking through his history as a young, zealous computer scientist who dreamed of creating the world's first computer-animated movie. After having the chance to work toward that dream as a Ph. D student at the University of Utah, a series of events led him to partner with George Lucas and, eventually, to his having founded Pixar with John Lasseter and another guy you might be more familiar with - Steve Jobs...