Monday, October 20, 2014

The strengths in Weakness



Malcolm Gladwell recently published a book called David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. In it, he explores the ways that people who might be thought of as underdogs (think the shepherd boy confronting the giant) who succeed not in spite of their perceived weaknesses—but rather because of those weaknesses. In the biblical David’s case, says Gladwell, the younger and smaller young man felled the man as big as a tree precisely because David refused to fight the way Goliath wanted him to.

Later in his book, Gladwell showed how the repeated “rejection slips” received by the impressionists Edgar Degas, Paul C├ęzanne, Claude Monet, Pierre August-Renoir, and Camille Pissaro. They were constantly excluded from the great marketplace of the art of their time, the Salon.

They, too, decided to pull a surprise attack and rented their own gallery—where they were “discovered” by an adoring public that made their iconoclastic art famous.

Gladwell also relates how some of the most successful people in business, music, and other careers succeed as dyslexics who had to overcome their obstacles and turn them into strengths.

Gladwell, while looking deeply into a biblical story and later into Paul’s thorn in the flesh, sees only the weaknesses and how strong-minded people turned strengths into weaknesses. A Christian, of course, would see human will and persistence as only part of the solution. The sovereignty of God, who delights in using the weak and powerless so that He can demonstrate His power, is the key.

Nonetheless, I’ve been thinking about those Impressionists. What is the novelist’s equivalent of the Salon? What would a group of novelists do today in a correlative situation? And the will of God. . . 

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. You have no idea how pertinent it is to my situation right now. WOW.

Sharon K Souza said...

I think about this a lot, Latayne. I know we've all discussed it between us. Would sure love to come up with an answer.

Nicola said...

Marcher Lord Press, now called Enclave is an example of people wanting to see more Speculative Fiction from a Christian point of view and setting up a publishing house to make it happen.

Patti Hill said...

Nicola, that's a perfect illustration. I know one of their authors, Sharon Hinck, and their publisher. He's a giant slayer, all right.

I've purchased this book. I may have to move it up on my TBR list after this post.

Kathleen Popa said...

I wonder if the Salon might be our script of how an art should function in the life of the artist, and in the life of the audience? I just watched a film, Searching for Sugar Man, about a man "cheated" of the recognition and wealth he might have enjoyed, had anyone told him what an impact his music had made - and how many records sold - in a country far away. I don't know if he follows Jesus, but I wonder if I could live my life with the depth of grace he has shown.

By the way, Gladwell is a favorite author of mine, and I believe he renewed his relationship with Jesus in the writing of David and Goliath.

Latayne C Scott said...

Yes, apparently this book did bring Gladwell back to his Christian roots.

I think he is in process of coming to a fuller faith. Just my impression

http://www.religionnews.com/2013/10/09/interview-malcolm-gladwell-return-faith-writing-david-goliath/

Chris Faulkner said...

Not just novelists.
What of a small-town journalist/sports writer (ahem!) in an industry that is hemoraging (sp)/dying as we speak. How do we find another source of income if papers have cut back all raises (8years running), but online writers can't make an income without attracting advertisers to pay for it. (As in, does Novel Matters have a revenue stream at all, or is it just for help and encouragement) Discounting John Grisham, et. al. there's never been a lot of money in writing. But a newspaper man, gifted by God with a writing skill, still needs to put food on the table. (OK, my wife works, but you know what I mean, I hope)

Latayne C Scott said...

Ah, Chris, we feel your pain. We REALLY feel your pain. No, NovelMatters is the opposite of a revenue stream: it is our ministry to other writers.

Voni Harris said...

I believe David listened to God, rather than Saul or to the taunts of Goliath, when he decided that he would take on the man and with a simple slingshot to-boot. Artists/Writers/Musicians are going to have to do the same and persevere in doing what He asks. Ultimately, the Audience of One knows His plans for each of us. Thanks for your ministry to us!

Blessings,
Voni

Anonymous said...

Our pleasure, Voni. We are all in this together, and all aiming for that Audience of One. Thank you for the insight.