I am so excited to share that God, Improv, and the Art of Living is now available for pre-order. (It will be released in early May, but why wait?) This one is the result of many years of incubation, mulling, exploratory blog posts, group work, and personal exploration. ...And improv class. ...And play.
Is this book for you? Here’s what my publisher (Eerdmans) has to say about it:
The central principle of “yes, and…” in improvisational theater has produced a lot of great comedy. But it also offers an invigorating approach to life in general, and the spiritual life in particular. From Moses to Ruth to Jesus, scripture is full of people boldly saying “yes, and…” as they receive what life throws their way and build upon it.
Pastor, speaker, and improv aficionada MaryAnn McKibben Dana blends scripture, psychology, theology, and pop culture in a wise, funny, down-to-earth guide to improv as a practice for life. Offering concrete spiritual wisdom in the form of seven improvisational principles, this book will help readers become more awake, creative, resilient, and ready to play—even (and perhaps especially) when life doesn’t go according to plan.
Years ago I had a friend who liked to say, “Life is not a riddle to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.” We are all improvisers, whether we realize it or not. We improvise in order to get through the day. We improvise when life surprises us. We do it without even thinking about it. This book, I hope, will help us all do it better. (And I’ve included individual and group exercises so you can reflect and play—with others or on your own.)
Writing this book been such an intense and wonderful journey, and a long one, that it almost doesn’t seem real that there’s a physical product at the end. I remember when I was in labor with our firstborn, it was such a complete mind and body immersion in the work—the labor—that when I heard her cry for the first time, there was this instant of surprise: Oh yeah, all this effort had a purpose!
I’m feeling a little bit like that. Improv is so much about the experience rather than a destination. Life is like that too, no?
That said, I can’t wait for you to read the book. I’m also nervous for people to read it. Sabbath in the Suburbs had such an autobiographical component, and it was daunting to think about people reading it. This one is less personal, but the vulnerability is still there.
The book’s foreword is written by actor, author (Angry Conversations with God), and former Groundlings member Susan E. Isaacs. It was a true delight to see how deeply she got it:
McKibben Dana invites us to approach life as a chance to discover with God, with all the mess and surprise that comes along with it. What if God isn’t an immutable taskmaster but a creative collaborator? What if God’s answer is “Yes And”? What if God is asking us the question: “What do you want?” It’s a terrifying and freeing invitation. It’s also a step toward maturity.
Thank you all, dear readers, for walking alongside me in this process… which is only just beginning (again!). I hope you’ll read and laugh and learn and think and play.