Write About Jesus redux

I see that songwriter Sue Smith has just reupped her URL claim on the domain name for Write About Jesus, the annual songwriters conference she coordinates in St. Louis. Thus do I surrender my fledgling hope that the clunky name might give way to something more … well, writerly (even the acronym – WAJ – tangles up the tongue).

Obviously Smith is committed to the name for principled reasons that are fully understandable. But still, it’d be interesting to know what the songwriters who attend the conference really think about the name WAJ. Maybe – with apologies to those obnoxious bumper stickers ubiquitous among Jeep drivers and Steelers fans – it’s a Christian songerwriters thing … you wouldn’t get it. At least I don’t. For instance, do WAJ alum really wear the Write About Jesus t-shirts and other insignia apparel after they leave the conference, like when they go to Target or out to the drugstore? Seems like there’d be a lot of homonymity confusion among the uninitiated you might run into whilst wearing your Write About Jesus windbreaker in Walgreens: “Hey, shouldn’t it be RIGHT about Jesus?” You laugh (or not, because it’s not THAT funny), but I’ve had two people who, unbeknownst to each other, had similar reactions when they half-comprehendingly overheard me discussing the name with another SGer.

My own feeling is that less clevereness is more when it comes to these things: St. Louis Christian Songwriters Conference or the Sue Smith School of Songwriting, both of which have manageable acronyms (the latter could even be fun to play around with: S4, 4Ss, or just the Ss – as in, “Yeah, I’m doing the Ss this year, are you?”), to say nothing of being self-evidently clear of purpose and name.

But whatever. The good news is that for all of you Chicken Littles who think Avery is poisoning the well of southern gospel’s sweet pure water, you can take reassurance from the utter inefficacy of my comments in this instance (and many, many others).

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  1. Leebob wrote:

    May I say something here about the desire for new and interesting ideas. There IS nothing new under the sun. Unless you are ready to start altering theology you are going to have to accept the fact that there are not any new life changing ideas out there. We seek innovative ways to say things, but when it comes right down to it, it’s still the cross (Oh yeah, that’s been taken).
    I understand the need for consistency in songs and the people that sing them. Like the little 10 year old that tells me she started out travelling for the Lord MANY years ago….PUHLEASE!!! At the very least, try to understand what you are singing about. Parents, give direction to your kids and you think about what they are singing and the message they are trying to convey because they aren’t going to. They just think it’s a fun song.
    With that having been said, when it comes to the words of a song, I am hoping that these experts are simply trying to avoid hokiness in the song writing part of things. We have to be real and careful in our effort to come up with something new we don’t come up with something NEW in the way of faulty theology.

  2. Tiffany wrote:

    I’m an alum of WAJ. I have to say that I love the t-shirts and do wear them afterwards. They have fun sayings on the front, for ex. “I’m Not Listening (I’m writing a song in my head).” Another one says “I Need Structure.” They’re great!

    I like the name of the workshop, however when I’m telling people the name I do feel the need to explain it is “Write About Jesus” instead of “Right About Jesus.” Other then that I think it’s great. Sue is a brilliant writer and the staff is just as talented. I’ve learned so much about the craft of songwriting from her workshop and I can’t wait to go back!

  3. Nick wrote:

    Mr Fineline –

    I am a WAJ alumn, or more affectionately known as a WAJonian. I’d like to state here for the record that I have, on more than one occasion, worn my 2005 WAJ T-Shirt (”I Need Structure”), through America’s finest airports.

    There is something strangely satisfying about standing in the TSA line with that shirt on. And when traveling on Southwest almost always guarantees you an empty neighboring passenger seat.

    It has undoubtedly drawn second glances, but it has also allowed me an opportunity to share something I’m very excited about. Namely, Writing About Jesus.

  4. Gina wrote:

    I attended WAJ aka Write About Jeus for the first time last year. I have worn my t-shirt probably 500 times, because I’m very proud to have been a part of the conference. When I wear it in public, I’m asked what it means, which gives me the opportunity to share. To share about Christian songwriting, and to share about Christ. A win-win situation. Sue Smith gives pros as well as nobodys like me the opportunity to develop the craft of songwriting at every level. What’s confusing about Write About Jesus since that’s exactly what we’re doing?

  5. Wendy wrote:

    I have to say you bring up a lot of important points in your questions. One of the things I love most about the WAJ acronym being yes, as you correctly point out, cumbersome, is that it prods me to speak out the ENTIRE name in sentence form, generally with an explanation attached. That removes the exclusive insiders-only air that is attached to the monikers of so many other groups. It inadvertantly provides lots of great opportunities for informing others that might be interested in the event, as well as, you guessed it: witnessing! Inconvenient? Maybe sometimes. Your point?

    You also talk about “less cleverness being more” with respect to the name choice. That seems like an odd comment to me. I find the name of your column, in particular, a nice mix of simplicity and cleverness. However, I don’t believe Sue was trying to be clever when she chose the name “Write About Jesus”. I personally can’t imagine it being any more simple and to the point. I think its beauty is its simplicity. And directness.

    As much as I’d love to continue addressing the other questions you raised, this is your column, not mine. But as a fellow Christian who lives to write about Jesus, please consider joining us in St. Louis/St. Charles at the 2007 WAJ. In fact, consider this a challenge as well as an invitation. You’re clearly a very passionate person who’s not afraid to express your point of view, and I think we’d all have a great time together!

    Until then-

  6. mac wrote:

    I attended WAJ a couple of years ago. While I can see how some might think the name could stand a rewrite, I’ve always thought it to be clever in a quirky sort of way. Also, the majority of songwriters tend to have quirky, out-of-the box personalities anyway and since they’re the target market, they can appreciate the little double entendre.

    Oh, BTW- My style tends to be more Bohemian than Hanes T-Shirt , but I do wear the WAJ tee from time to time here in Nashville. Even my country writer friends think it’s sweet.

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