Terry Glaspey Challenges Christian Creatives to Unite the Arts and Faith

By Elizabeth Griffin

If you have attended one of Terry Glaspey’s workshops during previous Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conferences, you know what I mean when I say that he is a brilliant creative and a brilliant theologian. He’s the guy you wish would mentor you—in writing, in creativity, in your spiritual walk.terry-glaspey

That may be because he’s spent a lot of time studying writers such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Jane Austen, along with painters like Van Gogh and musicians such as Duke Ellington.

Many of us have read, seen, and listened to these artistic icons, but Terry knows them so well he’s actually written books about them. He has culled the brilliant creatives of history and brought them to our attention through books such as 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art (winner of Christianity Today’s 2017 Book award for Culture & the Arts), Music, Literature, and Film; Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis; and The Prayers of Jane Austen. Through these, he challenges our presuppositions about “Christian” art and invites us to unite the spiritual with the creative in revolutionary ways.

“We are created in the image of God, and one of the obvious characteristics of God is that He is a creator. We have the privilege and enjoyment of also being what Tolkien referred to as ‘sub-creators,’ those who rearrange God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways,” says Terry.* “I am often moved more deeply by a song or a painting or a film than I am by most sermons. To be an artist—with words or paints or film or clay or a quilt or whatever—is a high and important calling. But Christian art should not be propaganda for the Christian cause. It should be about truth. Art is all about truth-telling, including uncomfortable truths, and we all need to be challenged and inspired in ways that the arts best accomplish.”

At the 2017 Renewal

In his role as acquisitions editor for Harvest House Publishers, Terry is available for editorial appointments at this year’s Renewal. He is looking for two things: quality and marketability. Quality is demonstrated by good writing, fresh new perspectives, theological orthodoxy, creativity, energy, and style. Marketability requires topics with a wide level of interest among readers and an author with a strong platform.

Acclaimed as a great communicator whose talks and lectures are energetic, humorous, and rich in content, Terry is skilled at taking complex ideas and making them interesting, accessible, and relevant to a wide audience. I found his teaching style to be understated, yet profound. He’s the type of person who inspires us to slow down and listen. With a master’s degree in history and an undergraduate degree emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies, he brings a unique perspective to the arts world.

Terry will teach two workshops this year at the Renewal. If you are waffling about attending them, consider this: Terry is teaching Christian Heritage in the Arts at Oxford and Cambridge this summer at the C.S. Lewis Summer Conference. You can spend $2,500, plus airfare, to hear Terry teach at Oxford, or hear him at the 2017 Renewal for the cost of your admission.

These are Terry’s workshops:

A Cloud of Creative Witnesses: In this multi-media presentation (visual, music clips, film clips), we’ll explore various ways that Christians down through the ages have used the arts to inspire, challenge and nourish our lives by looking at the variety of approaches they have taken. Be inspired by the likes of Bach, C.S. Lewis, U2, Handel, Rembrandt, Dorothy Sayers and other great writers, painters, and musicians. Feed your own creativity, find a new challenge, and celebrate the wonder of our Christian tradition in the arts. (All levels)

Telling It Slant: Finding Fresh New Ways to Tell the Old, Old Story: The secret of the very best writing lies in finding a way to make it fresh and intriguing. Too much Christian writing is boring and predictable. In this workshop we will look at practical ways to stretch yourself, find a new approach, and become more effective at reaching readers, even those outside the faith. We’ll look closely at the work of some truly great writers to see how they create such unforgettable writing, and take up the challenge to become better writers ourselves. (All levels)

In addition to teaching these workshops and taking 15-minute editorial appointments, Terry will also serve on a panel of publishing experts. Don’t miss this opportunity! Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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* Thanks to Kirk Kraft for allowing the use of quotes from his 2012 interview with Terry Glaspey.

elizabeth_griffin2Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Editor Terry Glaspey Speaks His Mind about Artists

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Terry Glaspey can talk for hours about the arts.

“Christian art shouldn’t be propaganda for the Christian cause,” he says. He believes that artistic people, while blessed with the privilege of rearranging God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways, must remain mindful about truth-telling, even uncomfortable truths.TerryGlaspeyPinableTerry is the director of acquisitions at Harvest House Publishers. Not only does he love good books, but he is also the author of more than a dozen titles himself, including Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis (a Gold Medallion finalist), Bible Basics for Everyone, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, and 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know. His latest book, The Prayers of Jane Austen, is being released now.

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Terry will meet with writers in group appointments. If you want to show him your work, please follow the guidelines concerning what he would like to see and what he’s not looking at right now.

The following day, May 16, Terry will teach one workshop himself and co-teach another with fellow editor Carolyn McCready:

Great Writers1)   What the Great Writers Can Teach Us about Writing: Here’s how to become a better communicator by learning the lessons of authors such as C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterton, and others.

What Editors Are REALLY Looking For JPG2)   What Editors Are Really Looking For (with Carolyn McCready [insert URL] of Zondervan): You will get to contrast the different approaches of two different publishers! Between them, Carolyn and Terry have reviewed it all.

Kirk Kraft’s Interview with Terry Glaspey

Three years ago NCWA member Kirk Kraft interviewed Terry on his blog right before the 2012 Renewal conference. Kirk has graciously allowed us to reprint a portion of that informative interview here.

Kirk: As an acquisitions editor, what do you look for in manuscripts?

Terry: I am looking for two key things: quality and marketability. Both are important. In terms of quality, I am always looking for good writing, fresh new perspectives, theological orthodoxy, creativity, energy, and style. Personally, I can enjoy reading about any topic if it has these qualities.

But—and this is the second thing I have to look for—the book needs to be marketable. We can’t ignore that publishing is a business and that publishers need to sell books. So, any book that is going to receive serious consideration needs a topic with a wide level of interest among readers, and it usually needs to have an author with a strong platform who can steer people toward it. The day has long vanished when an author can count on publishers to do extensive promotion on their books, unless he or she is already a bestselling name. Sad, but true.

In these economic times the marketing budgets have shrunk. It is critical for authors to use every means at their disposal to get the word out. And the topic needs to be one that is of general interest—not overly specialized.

Kirk: What’s been the most rewarding experience in your editing career?

Terry: I love interacting with authors who work hard to improve their books. The best writers are those willing to go through numerous drafts in order to deliver something that is polished and powerful. I have had the honor of working with some exceptional writers—people whose talent far outstrips my own—but have been able to help them make a good book even better. Few things are more satisfying than that!

Kirk: How do you think faith and the arts interact?

Terry: Do you have a couple of hours to talk about this? J This is one of my favorite topics. We are created in the image of God, and one of the obvious characteristics of God is that He is a creator. We have the privilege and enjoyment of also being what Tolkien referred to as “sub-creators,” those who rearrange God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways. And I believe that God speaks to us very powerfully in beauty. I am often moved more deeply by a song or a painting or a film than I am by most sermons. To be an artist—with words or paints or film or clay or a quilt or whatever—is a high and important calling. But Christian art should not be propaganda for the Christian cause. It should be about truth. Art is all about truth-telling, including uncomfortable truths, and we all need to be challenged and inspired in ways that the arts best accomplish.

Kirk: You’re an avid C.S. Lewis fan and have written books and spoken often about him. When did you fall in love with his writing?

Terry: I discovered Lewis while in college. At first, his biggest impact upon me was through his intellectual arguments for the reasonableness of faith. And while I still enjoy that aspect of Lewis, there is also an aspect of his writing that is more mythic and intuitive that moves me at an even deeper level. He was unquestionably one of the greatest creative communicators in the history of the church. I never tire of his work. When I reread his books, I’m always discovering new insights that I missed before.

Kirk: What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from Lewis that you can encourage writers with today?

Terry: I think that one of his talents was in finding fresh metaphors for traditional ideas. It is far too easy for Christians to use phrases and words and ideas that have become clichés. This makes for lazy writing, and these clichés have little power to actually move anyone. We might nod in agreement, but they usually fail to move us. We need to find fresh ways to speak, fresh metaphors and word pictures that surprise and sneak past the defenses of our readers. It is often in surprising our reader with a “new way of saying it” that we create an openness in the heart and mind which allows the truth to slip past all the defenses and make the reader vulnerable to hearing the Word afresh. Lewis, in both fiction and nonfiction, was so good at doing just that. That should be the goal of every Christian writer—take the timeless, and make it new.
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Thanks again to Kirk for letting us share his interview with Terry.

To request an appointment to meet with Terry Glaspey, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.