God, Improv, and the Art of Living

God, Improv, and the Art of Living

by MaryAnn McKibben Dana


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The famous improvisational principle of “yes, and . . .” 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 accept what life throws their way and build upon it. 

In this book, pastor, speaker, and improv aficionado MaryAnn McKibben Dana blends Scripture, psychology, theology, and pop culture in a wise, funny, down-to-earth guide to God, improv, and the art of living. 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. 

“We are all improvisers,” says McKibben Dana, “often without realizing it. 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 will help you do it better.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802874641
Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date: 05/08/2018
Pages: 230
Sales rank: 615,150
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

MaryAnn McKibben Dana is a writer, speaker, pastor, and the author of Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family's Experiment with Holy Time. An avid student and champion of improvisational theater, she prides herself on her ability to get even stodgy groups playing together and reflecting on life as improv.

Table of Contents

Foreword Susan E. Isaacs ix

Introduction 1

Principle 1 Say Yes

1 Live Yes-ly 11

2 Accept What We Can't Change 17

3 Listen for God's Yes 22

4 Say No to Say Yes 26

5 Risk Yes 31

Principle 2 Say And

6 Live toward And 39

7 Listen for God's And 44

8 Use And to Create Possibilities 50

9 Embrace the Vulnerability of And 55

Principle 3 Train Your Vision

10 Cultivate Vision 61

11 Pay Attention 68

12 See Defeats Differently 75

Principle 4 Find Your Troupe

13 Play Well with Others 83

14 Be a Pirate, a Robot, or a Ninja 89

15 Serve One Another 96

Principle 5 Find the Right Structure

16 Get Lean 105

17 Take One Small Step 112

18 Plan Right 118

19 Make Peace with "Not Enough" 124

Principle 6 Live More Deeply

20 Wrestle with The Voice 133

21 Refuse to Hoard 140

22 Reframe Loss and Failure 146

23 Embrace Ambiguity 153

Principle 7 Go Off-Plan

24 Meet the Mystery 163

25 Crack the Code 171

26 Fight Back with Beauty 179

Bringing Improv to Life: Exercises/or Individuals and Groups 184

Discussion Questions 207

Notes 217

Acknowledgments 229

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