Tim Dryden recently shared with us some insights from his debut book about his time with Ballet Magnificat, America’s first Christian professional ballet company. His passion for Christ and his love for humor and creativity shine through as he talks about his new book and shares a few personal thoughts.
Let’s kick things off. Why this book? Why now?
I hope and pray this book will amaze people and make them laugh—two things everybody enjoys. It’s undeniable that God has a great sense of humor, and is, of course, the quintessential Artist. This book puts both his humor and his artistry on display while communicating a measure of security in the fact that he is also in absolute control of this beautiful and crazy world in which we live.
Tell me a bit about the title to your book. What is it designed to communicate?
The title of the book is a play on words and communicates two things. First, comedy can be a very powerful art form. And, second, God, being the creator of art and creativity, is extremely artistic. When these facets of God dance together extraordinary and spectacular stuff happens. One transplanted from rural America to the city might explain why one wants to plant a garden by saying something like, “It’s just the country in me.” An overly organized former naval officer might explain his tidiness as “the military in me.” I explain my sense of humor because of the Artist in me. God is in my heart, and he is the creator of creativity.
What overall message do you hope to convey to readers from the publication of your book?
Notice God in the funny stuff of life. Laugh more often. Enjoy his jaw-dropping plans and the way he works.
How did your time with Ballet Magnificat shape you as a person and as a Christian?
It shaped me by adding almost 100 lbs to my studly frame, which, thankfully, is finally disappearing. But that’s not the kind of “shape” the question is addressing, is it? It showed me how loud and beautiful the voice of good art can be. It showed me that there are countless brilliant, loving, hospitable, and genuinely good people living throughout this nation and abroad.
What do you miss most from your time with the ballet?
Meeting and spending time with the crème de la crème of humanity. Enjoying the sights and cultural diversity of the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Belgium, and so many other countries whose names I either cannot remember or spell. And I miss hearing the audience gasp when I would slowly dim the light on Kathy Thibodeaux (founder of Ballet Magnificat) as she gracefully paused for a black-out.
What do you see as the greatest hindrance for people to know and understand the real Jesus?
I believe people mistakenly see the person and claims of Jesus of Nazareth as primarily a “subtraction” to their lives, when he is in reality an “addition” in every way. Many who don’t accept him and his teachings are afraid of missing out. People are killing themselves and others by clinging to the so-called right of self-determination. Parents know what’s best and want what’s best for their newborn child. People are horrified to accept that the chasm intellectually between a parent and infant is microscopic compared to the chasm between God and man. And, amazingly, so is the love a parent has for his child compared to the love of God for all who he calls his “treasured possession”.
A lot of stories in the book focus on prayer and praying. What advice would you give to Christians about a diligent prayer life?
One of the great mysteries of this life is that God hears our prayers and answers them, all for his glory and our good. This is indeed a mystery, but it is also the truth according to God. Daily, diligent prayer is critically important, and “flare prayers” are great—just do it—pray. My favorite quote about the power of prayer is, “Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” Prayer is the greatest—and most needed work—of believers.
Your brother, Mack Dryden, is a comedian and writer for shows such as Bill Maher. Who is funnier?
My brother Mack is funnier than me and Bill Maher combined, but I can spank both of them in a game of ping-pong, and I think we all know that’s what really matters.
What books are you currently reading?
Lost in the Middle by Paul David Tripp
How People Change by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp
Saving Grace by C. John Miller
Get Real by John S. Leonard
If you could be any preacher or theologian in church history, who would it be and why?
What is this question? Did I make it to the top five of an ugly contest? Throw Jonah’s name in the hat – c’mon, how fun would it be getting partially digested and all wrinkly inside of a big fish before getting barfed up on a beach? Daniel got to verbally put the most powerful king on the planet in his place, then walked around in front of him with his friends in the midst of flames. Don’t even get me started on Elijah, oh my gosh! But I guess I would have to pick Paul, being physically and spiritually blinded before getting knocked off a horse and then writing half of the New Testament. He also toured a lot of the countries, and got to see Jesus in human form.
Finally, how can people follow you on social media or get in contact with you?
I started a blog called “All Flimits” (www.allflimits.com) some time ago, and I suppose it’s time I actually post something on there. You’ll just have to check it out to find out why that name, what it means, or discover more insights from me. In the mean time, be sure to check out a preview of my book or purchase a copy here.