“Exit the Cave” with Blaine Hogan

Blaine Hogan joins Dr. Dan Allender on the podcast this week to talk about his new book, Exit the Cave: Embracing a Life of Courage, Creativity, and Radical Imagination. Blaine holds a Master of Arts in Theology and Culture from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. It was during his time at The Seattle School that he says, “It was time to go back to those stories, to those shadows, because I was reenacting them in so many heartbreaking ways to myself and to others.” In this conversation, Blaine describes his process of finding the goodness in his story, and how embracing his story allowed him to express his creativity more fully.

About our guest:

Blaine Hogan is a writer and film and creative director. Formerly the creative director for Willow Creek Community Church, Hogan is currently a full-time filmmaker who directs celebrities from LeBron James to Carrie Underwood. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Margaret, and their three daughters. He holds a Master’s degree in Theology and Culture from the Seattle School for Theology and Psychology and has appeared in many stage productions and television shows.

His latest book, Exit the Cave: Embracing a Life of Courage, Creativity, and Radical Imagination, is available wherever books are sold.

“Blaine Hogan’s memoir is an intense, stunningly honest, and profoundly hopeful promise that telling the truth can set the heart free. This brilliantly written and holy transformational book will allure you to tell your truths and find yourself stumbling into grace.” -Dr. Dan Allender’s review of Exit the Cave: Embracing a Life of Courage, Creativity, and Radical Imagination by Blaine Hogan

Episode Transcript:

Dan: Well, it is a sweet gift to be, with a brilliant, truly imaginative author who also happens to be a dear friend whom I don’t see often enough. Blaine Hogan. Dear friend, it is so good to be with you.

Blaine: Hi, Dan. It’s so good to be with you. I only needed to write a book about you to get you…

Dan: Oh, okay. Now, before we, let’s not go there quite yet, because we will come back to that. Uh, but let’s, let’s just be very, very clear. You are a deeply creative presence, of the creative and creator. And in that sense of, we’re gonna be talking today about creativity, and also what gets in the way of creativity and how creativity can truly, come into a kind of flourishing to be able to reveal something about what it means to live well. So it, but we also know, I know that on, at least according to Amazon, that November 8th of this lovely year, a new book from you is coming out, a new book called Exit the Cave: Embracing a Life of Courage, Creativity, and Radical Imagination. So, folks, I have had the pleasure of reading this book, and being able to endorse it, and it is a life-transforming memoir,  invitation to creativity and to engagement, with our story. All that, to begin by saying, did you ever think of yourself as in the linkage of Augustine. You know, Augustine’s the first memoirist never, at least in the history of humanity, had a book been published comparable, to the Confessions of Augustine or Augustin, depending on how you say his last name. But I would say, and this will maybe for some sound ridiculous, I love Augustine’s work, but there’s a sense of which I would’ve loved for him to have read your book, and then to have asked the question, how can I tell more truth? How can I embed my own story in the story of the gospel with even greater life and clarity? I can personally wish that your book will become a classic, as in Augustine’s confessions.

Blaine: Well, that is a very high praise, Dan. I mean, the book is indeed that, Uh, it is a confession, and so in so many ways, um, I keep, every time I get on an interview I keep going, Why am I, why did I do this? Why did I tell these secrets and these stories? And then why do I keep asking people to buy it and go get it. You know, the book you keep, you call it a memoir, it, I didn’t intend to write a memoir. I intended to write a book about the creative process. I set out to expand a self-published work that I had done a long time ago called Untitled, where I was going to sort of unpack, in a deeper way that kind of tips and tricks of being a creative professional, having been an actor and a director, now, a full-time filmmaker. But as I sat down to, to write, um, that book, I knew I was gonna tell part of my story. I knew that that was going to be, kind of woven throughout it. But I think I thought I was supposed to write one kind of book. And, every time I sat down to write that book, the book I had sold, the book that I’d been given a contract for, I just, I couldn’t, I couldn’t get there. And so, you know, I did a, the thing that, you know, really, mature creative professionals do, which is ignore emails from their publisher, and their agent.

Dan: Yes.

Blaine: For about a year or more. Until eventually, my agent had me join a meeting, which I later realized was an intervention, with a writing coach. And he suggested he introduced me to  this woman who I didn’t know was gonna be on the call named Meredith, and introduced her as a writing coach. And I was like, Oh, boy. I…

Dan: Oh that’s not a good note. 

Blaine: Yes, that’s right. And he, he in a, just a really gentle way was like, I wanted you to meet Meredith. I think she might be helpful to you. And I said, Yeah, I think it actually, I was, I was ready for recovery. I was ready to enter into, the process. And, so she gave me some really great advice, and it was, throw out everything that you sold to the publisher, throw out every idea that you’ve, you’ve had throughout the idea of the book that you’re supposed to write, and just start writing your story, which to me, felt like the most comfortable place to be. I never viewed myself as a teacher and that was sort of the book I thought I was going to write about. I was gonna teach about the creative process. I was gonna tell it and instead I needed to do, like I said, just what felt the most comfortable, which was to show, not tell and, do that through the lens of my story. And I guess a memoir is what, is what came out of it. It is so amazing to have this conversation because, in my hero’s journey, Dan, and I do hope people will read the book, but you are my, my guide. You’re the crazy, wild haired, professor that I meet in the kind of immediately following my inciting incident, that begins to, open up a world that I didn’t think was possible. And it turns out that was the creative process that I was meant to, talk about. That it wasn’t a creative process, with regard to a project, unless the project was, or rather, it wasn’t a, it wasn’t about the creative process with regard to a project, except that I realized that the project was my actual life.

Dan: Yeah. And I deferred at the beginning. I”ll just say the intersection in being in your book was a read that was both revelatory to me and had so much, honor, I indeed, as I have said to you, felt so honored, but also so exposed in the blush that, may have been there in the beginning as my wife said, I don’t see you blush often. I’m grateful you have the capacity, but when you were reading this book, I almost could tell the particular sections on the basis of the reddening of your face, So of course, to be…

Blaine: Do you remember? Wait, Dan. Do you remember what, what made you blush? I don’t, I don’t, I mean, I hold that as a high honor. I don’t think many people make you blush, but, I feel like I need to put you on the spot because you ruined my life. And so this book is in a form payback for that.

Dan: Yes well it felt that way. In some ways, we don’t see ourselves, and I have said this many times, we don’t have the capacity, even when we’re on Zoom, and we can see our own face on the other side, we don’t really see our own face without bias, without judgment. And often we literally can’t see our face because we’re in a world with others. We need others to see us. And the descriptions of this character, I’m like, I’m, I’ve often said I feel like I’m the French meter of normalcy, which in itself is really narcissistic, but I feel very ordinary. And yet, the description and the play and the engagement, you know, it, as a memoir, I’ll just come back to this category as a memoir. It is a brilliant process of inviting us to that, again, that question, What does creativity call us to become? What’s in the way? And the intersection of it is an incredibly creative book in that it teaches a lot about creativity without telling a lot about creativity. And in that, you know, as the one time creative director at Willow Creek Church and Chicago, you’ve been in big settings, and you know, both in terms of your acting career, in terms of your writing, I mean, to say the least, you’re, you’re one of the most creative people I have known on the earth. And so to begin that process to say what got in the way, I mean, we often think, Let me just take another sentence, Tortured artist. And you could have been called a tortured artist. And yet…

Blaine: A hundred percent, of course,

Dan:. …The creativity process requires such, It isn’t just a muse that inspires it is a level of labor of editing, editing, editing, work, work, work, editing, editing. And we often think, I’m not creative. Well, what a brutal eye, every human being reflects something of the creator who is creative. And what you’re inviting us to is that question of what is creativity and what gets in the way? And love for you to put words to that.

Blaine: Yeah. I mean, I mean, creativity, I think for a long time, I thought was in an a noun. It was a thing. You became, you, you, you were creative, or you weren’t creative. You had it or you didn’t, something needed to be more or less creative. And so you just added sort of the spice of creativity. And especially as a creative professional where day in and day out, that’s the job, is to be creative. And I think, for me, what gets what gets in the way, well, you know, Stephen Pressfield calls it resistance. People could call it any form of evil, if you wanted to go so far, is to call it that. But I think in the end, what was getting in the way was, was me. And it was, I had yet to reconcile the things and stories and moments of my past, that I continued to repeat, that continued to play out moments that I hadn’t yet come to terms or made peace with. And, those stories were preventing me from being my most creative self. And so creativity, I began to sort of redefine as not a thing, but really just not just a, new way of thinking, a new way of living. But again, I couldn’t do that until I found myself in Seattle. And until I began to sort of, I mean, you sort of, I think back to our class and Faith, Hope and Love, I actually love, that, I had kept some old transcripts of Faith Hope and Love

Dan: I know that’s…

Blaine: Which is where I stole and copied and pasted various parts of our conversation, to kind of weave the narrative together. But there is a moment in class, that I think was kind of the “aha” moment. And I think it’s maybe a, a better answer to your question is you said something to the effect of, we think of time as linear, as past, present, future, and that makes sense. But how we experience time is so much more nuanced and interesting. And in fact, some of the time is inverted. It isn’t past, present, future, and in fact, it’s past, future, present. And the way you described it, was that taking moment of your past, a moment of trauma, moment of pain or hurt, that occurred in the past, but we project that idea onto the future. And however, then we are imagining the future is how we live in the present. And so then you said the thing, um, that is one of your most hyperbolic statements, which it’s hard to find the most hard to find hyperbolic statement of yours, but it might be this, The easiest thing to change is your past. And of course, you can’t change what happened to you, but you can change the meaning. You can reinterpret what went on. And in changing your past, it begins to give you a different imagination, a new imagination, a more creative imagination for the future. And as you are imagining a different future, it allows you to live differently today. And so for me, I mean, to play it all the way back to your original question, it was my past that was preventing me from being creative.

Dan: Yeah. And I love the title, Exit the Cave, and you don’t really need to know a lot about Plato. You don’t need to know that. It’s one of his major, metaphors, stories to invite people to see that, the shadows in a cave, on the wall from a fire, look like reality. But indeed they’re not. And so, you know, I think, though I won’t say for sure that CS Lewis picked up that concept and used the word shadow lands that we live in the shadow lands. Yeah. And the real versus that, which is not unreal, but unsubstantial, and I think in so many ways, it, your, your story, and I don’t want to tell a story other than to say your relationship with your father, the harm that you endured, became the reality, when in fact,  it was, and it was not. And so I kind of wanna hear you say, how did you pick the title and, and how, particularly through the book is this intersection between the real and what’s really real plays out? Sure.

Blaine: Yeah. When I was, 17, I grew up in Minnesota, and I remember being seated in the back of my humanities class. It must have been a junior, I believe, in high school. And, our teacher told us the story of Plato’s allegory of the cave and it’s exactly as you described. There’s a tribe of people. They’re chained, to the back of the cave. They’re chained, to look up at the cave wall. And what they see are these shadows. And they’ve been there since forever. And then one day, one of the members of the tribe stands off and the, um, the shackles fall off, and they realize that they’re not chained after all, that they’re free to go at any time. And they turn, and they kind of see the artifice of the whole play playing out. They see the fire, they see a walkway. They see other people carrying these objects, creating the shadows. And then just beyond the fire, they see this dot of light, which calls to the man. And, he moves through the cave, he passes the fire. Every step towards the light is, is more and more painful until eventually gets out into the open. And he, sees truth. He sees the tree, he sees the dog in the chair. And, it’s an incredible story of what it means to come out of the darkness and into the light and see the truth. And there’s all these, you know, wonderful metaphors. But there’s a twist at the end of the story. And this is where, um, I think it, I was hooked because instead of running away from the cave, kind of as far away as the man can go, he returns. He goes back into the darkness, back to the, you know, the very recess where he began his journey. And he calls out to his tribe, and he says, there’s so much more. And I remember being 17 with braces and a bowl cut, sitting in the back of this classroom, hearing that story and wanting so desperately for it to be true. Like, I wanted to believe that there was something else. I wanted to believe that there was more. And so I found myself identifying with that character in this sort of aspiration of, Can I do that? And then also eventually a, as an artist being like, Well, now I’ve learned some things, and I can come back and I can, I can tell you. And, it’s a dance of linguistics and time that we don’t have, room in this podcast but I had come to a place in my professional career where I thought I was doing exactly that. I was coming to the back of the cave and saying, there’s so much more shouting in the dark places, and the theaters and the, cinemas and the places where I was creating art. But at the same time, my life was falling apart and I realized that my journey out of the cave, I’d missed a few steps. I’d maybe bypass a few stories that then I needed to go back to. and the other formative story, Well, I guess, tell me, Dan, do you want to jump into Hagar? Or were you…

Dan: You, I would, again, do

Blaine: Do you wanna do the whole thing?

Dan: Part of the joy is I’m just enjoying listening, so you take us wherever you wish.

Blaine: So, let’s see. What’s a good place to, to kind of jump, jump back in? I realized that I had neglected some parts of my story. Another part of the book that is, formative, and this is why it’s so fun to have this conversation with you, Dan, because you really are such a character. Period. And also one in my story, where later in our faith, hope and love class, you told us the story of Hagar. And essentially the Egyptian enslaved woman who becomes property of, Sarah and Abraham. Sarah’s unable to get pregnant. And so, Abraham,  impregnates her. And it’s, and it’s a, it’s a story that has, it’s a horrible story. It’s a, it’s a very challenging and difficult story. It’s kind of the one of the bloody gutsy, gory stories of the Bible that we, you know, oftentimes don’t, we don’t discuss. And I remember even writing the book, asking some questions of you, like, Can you take me back to that story and, kind of exegeting it? And, you know, you had no answers for me. And it was very unfortunate,

Dan: Yes.

Blaine: But, as hard as that story is, there are 2 truths, that you pulled out and became sort of, if the cave had become the first formative story of, Act one. Act two was formed by this story of Hagar, the Egyptian slave, and the two questions that the angel of the Lord Lord asks her at the edge of the river. So she one night breaks away, from Sarah and Abraham, she, you know, blasts through, the woods and finds herself at a river bed where the angel of the Lord appears and asks her two questions, Where have you come from? And where are you going? And I tell that story because you told that story. But it connected me back to the places that I thought that I had, made peace with and realized that I had not, because where I was going was so directly connected to where I had come from. And yet I had not done the work of going back into the particularities of those moments, of those stories so that I could actually change the past. It was in a practicum session where I was told that I was a liar, in repeating my story again and again. And they said, I don’t believe you stop performing your story. Maybe, you know, let us, let us in, confess. And so, again, you know, going back to your very original, the way we started this conversation, yes, the book is a memoir. But if it borrows anything, from, Saint Augustine, it is that it is just a confession. And my hope in doing so is, another one-liner from you, Dan, is that you can’t take anyone farther than you’ve gone yourself. And so I knew that if I wanted to, invite a space that felt safe for people, to address some of the hurt and harm and pain in their own stories, that I needed to be willing, to go there myself. And I guess maybe that’s what it means to be an artist. I guess maybe that’s what it means to be a tortured, artist. But I know that, as, as hard as it is to try and hawk a book with their deepest and darkest secrets, I do know, that someone will read this and not feel alone. Someone will read this and say, me too. And I will say this, I do think it’s important to share, Dan, because, you know, sort of memoir salvation stories of coming out of the darkness and into the light, don’t also, stories of harm done to the author, the writer. They don’t also include the heart and the harm that they’ve caused along the way. Which I’ve done a fair amount. and so I feel like that’s just important to say as part of this conversation, but I do hope that people read it and they see themselves, and I always misquote Carl [Rogers] when I say this, but I did look it up for this interview, is that he, he said that the, the most personal is the most universal. And so I think that, that that’s given me courage, as I’ve told my story that, that as I do that, and as I’ve gone into the particularities and as I’ve gone into those very specific moments of my story, that people would truly find themselves, that they would find the shadows that they, have been stuck staring at, and that they would begin to move out of the cave and into the light, and then maybe even themselves go back and remind, their own tribe that there is more.

Dan: Well, it’s, in some sense, it’s the power of a group where there’s engagement with story and deep, heartbreaking, but also hope-filled stories. It’s not simple. Well, in some ways it is simple, but it is not simplistic. It isn’t. I was once, now I am it is, I once was and still am and am not, and will in one sense be forever moving both in and outta brokenness and beauty. But nonetheless, when I, as I read, captured indeed by the rich and, I don’t know a better word, a brilliant language taking me into things that have points of similarity, but also great difference, it’s like good fiction. There’s something I’m identifying, but not fully because I’m not the creature there. Yet. It’s still revelatory, it’s exposing and at that, confirming, exposing power that brings, the reminder of goodness, even in the deepest heartache, that was a central part. And I’m wondering, like, when you think about one of the stories for you that was a shadow that actually looked like it was more real than real, that you needed to be able to leave the cave in order to come back and encounter that story again, to be able to leave again and come back again. I wonder what comes to your mind and heart.

Blaine: You know how I came to learn of you, Dan, was through your book, The Wounded Heart. And I read that, um, at one of the lowest parts of my life. And I, then also realized you had some weird school in Seattle. And I had no desire to go to seminary. I always wanted to go to Yale Drama School. And I ended up in fucking Seattle on the other side of the country,

Dan: In a theology program.

Blaine: Because my life, Yeah, yeah. Which led me to 10 years at a megachurch

Dan: That’s hilarious.

Blaine: Yes. That is a word that you could use. But I read Wounded Heart, and I knew, that whatever it was that was going on in Seattle, I needed, I needed more of. So the story that, returns, is the story of my abuse, at the hands of, two older boys in my neighborhood. And I’d always held that story, in sort of, the penultimate moment of this three act structure that I had created, Which was my dad was an alcoholic and an addict, and my mom, suffered from, debilitating, diabetes, and she had seizures, and my brother and I needed to care for her in different ways. And, and then the third sort of big twist was, and I was sexually abused, as a young boy. It was telling that story again and again in practicum, as part of the Seattle School that I was told in no uncertain terms that I had been performing, that three act structure. And it was time to kind of go back, to those stories, to those shadows, because I was reenacting them, in so many heartbreaking ways to myself and to others. As I realized, I myself had become an addict in many of the same ways that my dad had. And as I went back into those stories, both in my work in Seattle and in the book, I realized that, there was such goodness. Someone asked me in another interview, if you could describe, the boy in the cave and the man, who still stands outside of it. I said, I actually used one word, and it would be the same word for both, and it’s good. The boy in the cave was good. And the man standing outside the cave is good. And as I went back into those stories of my abuse, and I recognized the goodness of the boy who, was curious, the goodness of the boy who wanted care and touch and affection, and who wanted to be seen and taken delight in, it doesn’t remove the harm that happened. And it’s a conundrum to hold the goodness with, the terrible things that happened. It’s really an uncomfortable thing to hold both. But I think what you have taught me is it is all a paradox. It is always both, it is comedy, as you say, hilarious and also tragedy. And so those are the, so some of the stories that, that I returned to, and I’ll be honest, there are many places where I got stuck. And I’m so glad that as we began the interview or before clicked record that you got to say hello to Margaret, my wife. You’ve known for many, many years. And you say that you needed to do it in community. And it was actually, it was, uh, 100% true. My wife was the greatest editor I could have ever had, in the ways that she reminded me of what I had already known, what I always knew. But even so many years later, trying to write it out, I had forgotten. I had forgotten that is, that is, that is the truth. That that that, that, that boy was good, that he was curious, that he wanted to be taken delight in. And it was like always right on the surface. But I couldn’t say it until Margaret reminded me of it. which I think is… Go ahead.

Dan: No, no. It’s just the, the gift of her presence, just even having her face for a second, is, again, the light. And again, not to say there wasn’t goodness in you before she spoke, but she spoke and something came to be there is that creative act in speech that when she spoke existence came to be. Now again, I’m not saying that, she or any other person speaks ex nihilo out of nothing she’s speaking to and about yet in her creativity to see and engage, even in the midst of your failures of her and your failures of yourself. There was eyes to see your glory and that, I just think of some meals that we’ve had together sitting and just being able to marvel at, both broken, but the light of beauty that exists between the two of you. And that, that just takes me again, back to this question of in, in addressing and wrestling with great harm, the great harm actually drew you into the creative process. There was something of curiosity that opened the door will not step into the particulars, but into the, into the events of the abuse. And that has been something you’ve been at war with for Lifetime is your own curiosity, yet it’s also the basis of so much or the brilliance of your creativity, again, through the book. How, how has that process come to a further sense of goodness?

Blaine: I mean I think that’s such a great, I think that is, that is the word that’s probably one that really does define my work in, I think any creative act is, or the turn of a phrase of a really good therapist is get curious about that. Get curious about, I wonder why that is. And, I think what I, what I keep thinking about with regard to curiosity, is, well, let me take that again. And when I think about curiosity, I do, I do think about my story that one I just told you about my abuse, because I didn’t just name that I was curious. But I blessed it. And I said, as you mentioned, it is good. Or I said it, yeah, it is good. And so as I am still kind of doing the spiral dynamics of recovery of, trying to move forward, but, you know, sometimes having relapsed or where things, take what feels like a backwards slide, and knowing that that movement backwards does have the opportunity if I care for those places of harm and of relapse and of hurt to myself and others, and if I bless it with curiosity, it has the, potential to propel me even further forward, rather than being stuck in that place. And so I think that to me, as I am getting, well, as I came to the end of the writing process, just wanting to continue to name and bless my curiosity and how that functions, as an author, as a writer, as a husband, as a dad, like, Oh, gee, I wonder what’s going on there with my eight year old child, And what have I… how have I ruined her? I wonder about that today. How did I break them today?

Dan: Oh, that’s why at core, we all truly need to provide some degree of help with regard to, you know, college or trade school or, you know, beyond, you know, the process of like elementary and high school. You may not be able to pay the whole thing, but it should be thinking about that on their behalf as well. You should have a therapy fund on behalf of your children.

Blaine: Oh my. yep. Well, and, that does make me think of, Roy Barsness, who’s no longer at Seattle School, recently retired. I believe he was the one that said, You’ve succeeded as a parent if your children go to therapy for different reasons than you do.

Dan: Absolutely. That’s a brilliant… I hadn’t heard him say that, but that really is true. But I think mine have also gone for some of the same reasons. So I won’t then I won’t entirely say that that is an indication of failure. That the fruit of curiosity, you have this phrase that’s embedded, you know, if I said curiosity and… pick the verb killed, kill, curiosity killed the cat. And so we know that curiosity will disrupt. And I think that’s part of what a creative does. If you can simply do what I thought you were going to do, essentially, I may feel confirmed in my own judgment, but in many ways I am bored. So the disruptive process, it evites, it does soothe, but it deeply disrupts.

Blaine: And being boring is the worst thing you could be called as an artist or as a as a creative. That’s the last thing that you want to do. In the book, I tell a story about a friend of mine whose sibling had just gotten a divorce, and I said, Oh my gosh, what did you say? And the sibling was an artist as well, creative person. And I said, what did you say to him? He said, gosh, you’re so boring, so boring that you would have an affair. So dumb and predictable. Of course you would. And I remember feeling like I couldn’t have imagined how a worse thing to I would have. I mean, there’s so many other things that would have rather been called and for so much of my life, I was so very boring.The shadows that I was looking at, the shadows that I was making, they were so utterly boring. My addiction was so boring. Trying to remain sober and be in recovery is the absolute antithesis of that. Being committed in a relationship to community and to my partner. That’s fucking hard and that’s really scary and that is not boring at all. But for so long I thought that’s the boring thing , that it was meant to restrain me. But in fact it it’s there just.

Dan: Well, the notion of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, there is wildness. There is the, the turn out of the conformity, the dogmatism, the status quo. And then you realize that at core levels, all flights from a deeper reality, not a return to the status quo, but to the deeper reality of the heartbeat of God opens the door to a new level of life. Like, again, I won’t go into details, but yesterday was not a good day for my marriage. And our fighting, our engagement, my failure, her failure, it was a, it was a shit show. And today, even, even though we didn’t go to bed, just totally in chaos, just getting up this morning and looking at one another with a kind of, what do we do with this proverbial hangover from what occurred? How do we come back? How do we honor that we’re both hurt and we both hurt each other, and there’s something more. We just can’t pretend it’s over. We can’t just go back and try and rehash. And in that sense of the newness of redemption, the newness of what is now being called forth into, even though I talk a lot, have a lot of words in those moments,

Blaine: What? Dan?

Dan: In those moments to be able to go, I don’t know what to say.

Blaine: Yeah.

Dan: But I need to speak. And how do we come not just back together, but how do we come back together forward in a way in which we are able to stand on the neck of evil and say, our love can grow even stronger in the midst of this? It is hard.

Blaine: It’s so hard. It’s so hard. And it is, and I don’t think there’s anything more creative than that. That is the opposite of boring, of predictable, um, of staying stuck in, in the, in the pattern. And trying something new, experimenting with something new. Shutting your damn mouth, Dan, for just a goddamn minute.

Dan: Indeed, indeed. And, it may not be the exact words Becky spoke, but it was the energy. It was the energy and the invitation to, when you don’t have words, will you start listening not just to what’s inside, but what your partner is inviting you to hear about not just your failure, but about what was happening for her in the midst. So it, in some ways, it could have been a, eventually a good drama. It could have been, I mean, if this had been and grateful it wasn’t videotaped, you know, it, it’s where you go. It’s the kind of authenticity that you seldom see in films or certainly in Christian creatives. So, before we end, I just want, we’ve poked into a lot of places. How do you bring this into a community, into the people of God, in a way in which, because you, you, you did manage and create on behalf of Willow Creek, conversations that wouldn’t have occurred without what you were doing on the stage and what you were doing with music, what you were doing with the stage itself as the place to reveal the stage of life itself.

Blaine: Oh, I mean, I kind of go back to the earlier part of our conversation when we were discussing Hagar. The Bible is filled with the most incredible stories of blood and guts and gore and pain and trauma and goodness and curiosity and, and beauty and hope. You know, I think that because I maybe grew up Catholic, I didn’t have any of these sort of evangelical, baggage when I began my tenure at Willow Creek. And, because I had been a secular artist before, I had, you know, finally done the good thing and given my, working hours to the Lord and started making sacred art. I think because my perspective, was so very different in many ways, it was relatively easy for me. Because the goal for me was just to try to tell the truth, and knowing that if we were going to invite people, you know, at the end of this time, in a church service to give their life to Christ and, be changed and renewed and have some form of healing, I felt like it was a disservice, to do that without inviting them first into a taste of what, it might actually look like. And so for me, that was the complexity of my story. And so that’s what I offered again and again and again, which is, it’s unfortunate. It took me four to five years to realize that’s how I needed to write the book. But thank God for, you know, Meredith, my writing coach who allowed me the space to do that. But I think that’s how I did it. I think I had great source material both the Bible and my own, to be able to…

Dan: And the lives of others around you. So, so given that, I come back to this phrase as we end. And that is in telling the truth. You’ve done so beautifully, but not because you’ve made our brokenness beautiful, but because in that brokenness, there is something of the presence of God. We go to darkness. We go to darkness because that’s where light is found. God is in the presence of darkness. And if we’ll go to that in ourselves and in our, lives with others, the surprising presence of the goodness of God will show God’s self to us in a way that dissipates despair. And I think that’s the gift of what your book brings. As I finished the book for the very first time, I literally just stood up. I remember looking at Becky and I just said, and God is good. And if that can be some, well, probably not the totality, but if that can be the basis of how people read your confession, this will become a classic. And I am, blushing but honored, to be a part, not only of the book, but your life, my friend. It has been good to be with you.

Blaine: It has been good. Thank you so much, Dan.