f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Knowing Where You Stand

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Knowing Where You Stand

For me, Dave Egger’s Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was a complete mixed bag. Some stuff I loved; some I hated. Egger’s not only wrote the book, though, he also was quite involved in the design and packaging. (The notion of which would give many of us here at the publisher screaming nightmares.) Anyway, among the many random things he threw in was, on the copyright page I believe, a Gender Identity Scale. It was marked from 1-10. One was Homosexual. Ten was Heterosexual. Eggers’ ranked himself a seven.

This cracked me up. It’s so random and meaningless and yet so perfectly evocative.

Where would I rank on that scale? I’m married with two kids. I know what the I-formation is in football. I once broke up with a girl because the night before I hung out with guys and ate wings and had way more fun than I was having with her. I don’t loofa.

On the other hand, my mom once gave me Strictly Ballroom as a Christmas present. I have somewhat fancy leather shoes from Italy. I can sing lyrics to lavish Broadway musicals. I admit that Jude Law is obviously attractive. I have a favorite flower. Julia Roberts appalls me.

So what am I? An 8? A 7? In that area, who knows?

The bigger point is that there are many very important issues (and my point isn’t saying that gender identity is one of them) for which there seem to be two poles of distinct thought. And where my views fall somewhere in the middle.

People like Mark and Lisa and Michael at Master’s Artist have been chatting over some of the topics recently. The folks at that, now officially, insane WestBow-short story-comment board, have been arguing over others. These, obviously, are the issues worth talking about. And knowing where we stand seems critical.

I thought next week we’d take Eggers lead and set up some Scales. The Art/Commerce Scale. The Writing/Plot Scale. These are areas where, despite what we want, there are NO RIGHT ANSWERS.

I’ll be interested to see where I end up placing myself because I find myself in many of these arguments understanding both sides. And I hate being a 5. It seems so much more noble to be a 1 or 10. It means you stand for something. The only thing I’m 1 or 10 on are my wholehearted passion for Jesus, my extreme dislike for Julia Roberts, my unequivocal devotion for kalamata olives, and my newfound, and growing, loathing for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team.

So tune in next week and see where you stand. Tomorrow: the story of how I once autographed more books than Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn. Combined.