Westmont Magazine Balance in Faith and Art

Teaching high school drama and raising three children are just a few of the challenges that Chip Mac Enulty ’93 faces. In the evenings after his wife and children are in bed, he works on his latest book. “As I write, ideas come to my mind,” Chip says.

One idea inspired his recently published novel, “Judas, the Son.” Dedicated to his grandfather, the book traces the life of a black orphan named after the infamous apostle. The product of a brutal rape, Judas was the son of a nun. Faced with the racial prejudice of the 1960s, the boy loses his mother, parish father, and beloved friend, a black man named Moses. Stigmatized by intense grief early in his life, Judas questions why God allowed such sorrow. In his adult years, he becomes a district attorney to prosecute men like his father and protect women like his mother. Judas learns to love again when he adopts a son who sadly develops leukemia. After years of disillusionment with God, Judas approaches Jesus and offers himself in exchange for the life of his son. This action marks his realization of personal freedom in Christ.

“My art documents in fictional form my journey with God,” Chip says. “I also wanted to challenge a long-held misconception about Judas Iscariot. The sin of Judas is the sin of all of us: his betrayal is no different from Peter’s. We put God in a box, back him into a corner to make him act in the way we think He should.”

After spending a semester in Israel and earning his degree in theater arts, Chip felt free to question God. “The art world and Christian world are often seen as conflicting,” he notes. “Since Westmont and beyond, I have been forced to hold these two worlds in tension, to keep feet in both boats, and the balancing act of doing that is never easy.

“Where the church upholds certain morals and traditions, the art world sometimes seeks to break down tradition and question it. But if Christians are to be relevant (and art is simply a tool for being relevant) we must continue to engage culture where it stands. At Westmont, I followed my questions to the end. Even if I went through a dark valley to seek the answer, I knew that I would come out into the light.”

Chip says that he writes because he has a story to tell. Fiction is a medium for his self-expression and a balance for Christian and artistic expression. “While at Westmont, the worlds of art and Christianity helped me to see how big the greater world is and to find my place in it.”

For Chip, publishing was a long and trying seven-year process. It’s difficult to find an agent unless you have already published. Unfortunately, it is even harder to publish without an agent. Chip pursued online publishing instead, which avoids printing large quantities of books and buying them back from stores that don’t sell them. Online publishers keep the books saved in digital format, and they cut and bind volumes as requested.

As a high school drama teacher, Chip also demonstrates this balance by helping students express themselves, while directing them toward God. “I stand as a bridge between the two worlds,” he writes. “At my heart and core, I am a man struggling to live in the world with God and His often mysterious nature.”

Chip lives in Colorado Springs, Colo. with his wife, Kristen, and three children.