Saturday, October 17, 2009

Debute Column in FOCUS Magazine

A few months ago I shared my disappointment that, after close to a decade, the Tampa Tribune had dropped my opinion column. I still write a weekly commentary for a small north Florida paper, but I lost my intimate week-by-week connection with the local community.

I'm glad the Tribune still runs my "community profile" pieces, but my column needed a new home. Not everyone reads my blog - I think they'd like it if they tried - so I shopped around and was very pleased to find some interest from the folk at FOCUS Magazine, a monthly news periodical based over in Plant City.

So, this week, my first - once a month - opinion column ran in FOCUS, along with a community news feature that I'll write pretty-much every issue. What makes this column of interest for today's posting is the way I lay out my "M.O." as a writer. I answer some questions about the "why" behind my writing and try to set the stage for my emphasis in the future. So I thought I'd share it with all of you today. Enjoy:

Redemption: it's not just for church anymore!
FOCUS magazine, October, 2009

A few weeks ago I was asked to sit on the stage at a theater in Brandon, where I fielded questions from the audience after a production of “Children’s Letters to God.” There were five of us, all billed as public figures willing to talk about personal faith. The others introduced themselves by occupation and community involvement. “I’m a pastor...” “I work as a teacher...” “I’m on the board of the community foundation....”

When it came my turn I said the following: “Good evening! My name is Derek Maul. My work involves listening to people and learning their stories. I collect stories; I try to understand what makes people tick. I’m especially interested in how our narrative - both personal and community – interfaces with The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

My work, indeed everything I do, is back-shadowed by faith.

Let me explain: In the world of art one interesting technique involves a deliberate “painting over” - one picture on top of the other. Here’s how it works: The artist paints a portrait or a scene. Then, after the canvas dries, another image is applied on top. When the work is completed, the effect carries an emotional impact that transcends conventional applications. The technique is potent and resonant. Sometimes the under-painting is completely obscured; sometimes it can be easily detected.

Everything that I write – books, blogs, articles, features or commentary - is back-shadowed by faith. Sometimes you can see it clearly; often it’s necessary to scratch at the surface; once in a while the story on top is absolutely all you can see. But, behind everything, my world-view is ultimately redemptive; grounded in hope and rooted in my commitment to follow Jesus.

The world we live in is dangerously broken; but I believe in the power of redemption and of grace. Consequently - rather than criticism, judgment or condemnation - commentary in this space will reflect my interest in restoration and healing.

There’s a sense in which all of creation – both human beings and the planet we live on - is loaded with a kind of anticipation; creation hoping that, one day, the people whom God created and charged with responsibility will finally “get it.” Here’s how Paul expressed the idea in Romans, chapter 8: 19-21 (CEV).
  • All creation is eagerly waiting for God to show who his children are. Meanwhile, creation is confused, but not because it wants to be confused. God made it this way in the hope that creation would be set free from decay and would share in the glorious freedom of his children.
This truth is self evident in Florida. If we abuse the earth long enough it fights back, and we all pay the price. Lost wetlands; pesticide misuse; antibiotic ridden meat; an exhausted aquifer;
erosion - this list is extensive. I’m talking redemption, people, and it’s not just for church anymore.

So here’s this month’s question. In what way is this community aligned with the impetus of redemption? In what ways do our choices as individuals, businesses and organizations bring hope and work toward a future that is good. What am I doing to facilitate wholeness, healing
and reconciliation?

Let me know what you think. I’d like to hear what you are up to.
Grace and peace – DEREK MAUL

You can reach Derek at, or visit his website at

1 comment:

Naomi said...

"Hello! My name is Naomi Campbell and I am a preachers kid- WOOT!"

Daddy- that's how I would open up a conference like that! HAHAHAAA!

Love your articles- ALWAYS!!