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An open letter to Eric Metaxas on Creativity and Unicorns

Dear Eric Metaxas,

I had the delight and privilege of attending your talk at Baylor University on Wednesday, sponsored by Baylor’s Institute for the Studies of Religion. What a great time! I got to meet like-minded people and spend an evening with you, my husband, and 420 other random people, a night of laughter, seriousness, and monumental testimony from the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Image

That’s me in the black dress, my friend Bri in blue, and you in the black jacket. You’re the one signing the book. It’s not my book, though. I was supposed to get a picture when you signed mine, but I geeked out and forgot to ask you if it was okay. So I had to recreate it as closely as possible.

I’m supposed to be writing on Creativity and Unicorns. I’ll skip the creativity for now and go straight for the unicorns.

During your talk, you mentioned the process of what it might mean to hear from God. And you let it slip that Blinky the Unicorn delivered a message to you from God and that’s how you knew you were supposed to do something specific (I forget…something about writing a book…). And I got so excited! And then, it was just a joke. Not a funny joke.

Unicorns are no laughing matter, Mr. Metaxas. Okay, maybe a little funny. But give unicorns a chance, okay?

I just watched the video of your conversion story–beautifully illustrated, and what an image! What a dream! Such a powerful story. Thank you for sharing it. It makes me curious–are you familiar with those things called analogies? You know, ice is to water as frozen milk is to milk?

Well, fish are to you as unicorns are to me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
It all started with this mental image I got one night as my husband and I were praying before bed. We were doing a 30-day prayer journal, trying to decide if we should move to Florida or stay in Texas.

In my mind’s eye, I saw this image of a unicorn. It was standing in a field, looking at me. The wind was blowing its mane. The memory of it is still majestic to me. When I told my husband so that he could write down my impressions of the evening, he chuckled at the crazy places my mind goes in prayer sometimes. And over the next few weeks, I kept thinking about the image of the unicorn with the multi-colored horn, standing majestically in a peace-filled field.

Monday, October 11, 2010
I wrote in my journal all the Bible verses that have the word ‘unicornio’ in the Reina-Valera Antigua Bible (did I mention I’m a Spanish teacher?). The word also appears in the KJV, in Numbers 23:22, Deuteronomy 33:17, Psalm 29:6 and 92:10, and Isaiah 34:7. (Unicorns are biblical! I’m not crazy. Pretty sure I had this little conversation with myself.) 

Dios los ha sacado de Egipto; Tiene fuerzas de como unicornio.
Números 22:23 RVA

God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of the unicorn.
Numbers 22:23 KJV

Stir, stir, stirring in my imagination. The image of this unicorn. Paired with the visceral and spiritual image of the wounded stag, told by Michael O’Brien when he visited Baylor eight months before. I could feel a story being birthed. And so I wrote it. You can read it here when you have the time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010
God spoke to me through my own symbols, or was it through the symbols He had planted in me? Arriving in my office at Baylor to prepare my lectures for the day, I pulled off the page from my art-a-day calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Prayer journal where I recorded my first encounter with the unicorn, and the Unicorn in Captivity Tapestry from the Cloisters in New York.

A unicorn. In captivity. Not only a unicorn, but a captive one. And captured by my heart. He has let Himself be captured by me. A love letter to me, indeed.

“Once again we see the unicorn, but now he is alive and chained to a tree within an enclosed garden. Resurrection icons in this scene are abundant. The chain that holds the unicorn to the tree is known as a love chain. Here it is shown quite loose, indicating that the unicorn can leave if he wants, but he stays willingly. This represents the love of Christ for mankind that kept Him on the cross.”
Lisa Nicodemus Lyons, from her blogpost on the Hunt of the Unicorn

A fish and a unicorn inviting us deeply into  of the arms of Jesus the Christ. I love it. But…I’m pretty sure His name isn’t Blinky. Oh, and it’s also such a nice part of the story that a mere three weeks later I started reading Bonhoeffer and got rocked by his life’s story.

“So, weren’t you going to talk about creativity?”

Why, yes! I’m glad you asked. I follow you on Twitter and am so encouraged by your tweets about culture, shaping culture, participating in culture! But here’s the deal. I’m an author and a singer-songwriter. What am I supposed to do with this drive to create new pieces of culture? How can I, a little stay-at-home mom in Texas, engage and transform culture when my blog readership is at 3o on a good day?  What about all these writers and artists that you are reaching through Twitter, through your book, through Socrates in the City? Maybe you have already done this and I just haven’t come across it yet, but would you start a publishing/media firm for crazies like me who have a passion for transforming culture one work at a time but have no idea how to break into the secular or Christian market? Or maybe helping us out by compiling resources that could help on the journey?

Thoughts, feedback, criticisms appreciated. I conclude with a heart full of thanks to you and of vision for my generation. Thanks for standing for the truth and for sharing both your testimony and that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Respectfully yours,

Amanda Beck

 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
Revelation 12:11


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