Dean Davis Dean Davis was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1969, he graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz with a degree in Philosophy. A true child of the 60s, he plunged headlong into the counterculture, practicing a wide variety of Eastern religions, especially Zen Buddhism. Then, in 1974, in the midst of a deep personal crisis, the God of the Bible graciously stepped in, turning a seeker into a finder, and an orphan into a beloved son, all through a life-changing revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since then, Dean has followed the Lord down many roads, serving as a pastor, teaching elder, Sunday School director (with his wife, Linda), Christian bookstore manager, pro-life leader, and substitute school teacher. In recent years, he has greatly enjoyed working as the Director of Come Let Us Reason. He and Linda currently reside in Santa Rosa, California. They hope to grow old there together, even as they keep careful tabs on their five far-flung kids: Mark, Beth, Jonathan, Rebekah, and Sara.
A Conversation with Dean Davis about The Dangerous Journey of Sherman the Sheep
Many people have ideas for stories or books. But few people actually write them. What first motivated you to begin writing, and in particular, writing allegory?
Dean: I trace my interest in writing back to the early 1970s, the time of my spiritual awakening. The more I read, the more I saw; the more I saw, the more I wanted to communicate. Soon, I began to write short stories, poems, and essays. When, after a good deal of wandering, the Lord brought me into His fold, my desire to relate fresh insights resurfaced and intensified.
From the very beginning of my Christian walk I admired a famous old painting called The Good Shepherd, in which we see a Shepherd (with face hidden) rescuing a sheep trapped on a mountain ledge. That picture said it all. It also suggested a story which I told, with ever-increasing embellishments, to my children. Eventually, some of the folks who heard me tell it at church asked me to write it down. As I wrote, I found myself targeting adolescent—or pre-adolescent—boys, who today are in desperate need of godly role models, a clear vision of manhood, and a revelation of the thrill of genuine Christian discipleship.
I started out telling my own story—which is simply “the old, old story” – in a way that young boys could grasp. Soon, however, I realized that an allegory was taking shape under my fingers, one that could well speak to kids of all ages. I hope it has, and I hope it will.
Tell us a little bit about Sherman.
Dean: All we like sheep have gone astray,” says Isaiah. In that sense Sherman represents any Christian whom Christ has graciously and lovingly rescued from sin. But I’d say Sherman specially represents kids who have grown up in the church but wandered away or have been tempted to try adventuring up “Sin Mountain.”
Dudley, on the other hand, is more like me—the guy who never had the advantage of a Christian family, but whom the Lord, with a mighty stretch of his long arm, somehow found.
Did you receive inspiration from watching your own five children?
Dean: Most definitely, especially from my two sons. Like Bertram (Sherman’s father in the book), I observed their interest in the things of God, and also their interest in the things of the world. Like Bertram, I was concerned. Like Bertram, I wanted to be the voice of the Lord into their young lives, and the grace of the Lord, if and when they should fail. Sherman is not just for sons and daughters, but for dads and moms as well. I hope the story will encourage parents to trust in a good and sovereign God, and to aspire to work skillfully with Him as He ministers through them to His young ones.
You are a skilled writer of allegory. Have you been influenced by writers such as C.S. Lewis?
Dean: I am definitely a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia. Those wonderful books penetrated to the depths, and I enthusiastically read them to all my children. I believe that in their fantasies Lewis and Tolkien did what they set out to do: to get a fresh hearing for the gospel among moderns hardened to the gospel. And they did it by giving us memorable characters shaped by the gospel, so we could see anew what godly Christian boys, girls, men, and women look like. If The Dangerous Journey of Sherman the Sheep will give the tiniest such peek to an impressionable child or tween, I will be pleased indeed.
Tell us about your writing life. Describe your typical writing session.
Dean: I like to compose on my computer. I have a wonderful homemade table that allows me to do so standing up (saves the back big time)! I’m a pretty slow writer: An excellent day’s work will come to two or three pages. I suffer no interruptions, but toil on in more or less complete silence, holed up in my downstairs office. I keep lots of hot drinks by my side and take an occasional break to run upstairs and check out the latest developments in politics.
What other activities do you enjoy in your day-to-day life?
Dean: My wife, Linda, and I enjoy bicycling. I enjoy hitting a bucket of balls at the local golf course and sitting down for a pork tostada at Lepe’s, my favorite Mexican restaurant.
Have you written other stories like The Dangerous Journey of Sherman the Sheep, that families can enjoy reading together?
Dean: I do have a few other stories tucked away in my heart; but they’re on the back burner till I get a few theological projects out of my craw. I’m almost always writing. These days I enjoy posting short articles on my blog: devotionals, letters, essays, etc. Currently I’m doing a series on how to interpret Old Testament prophecies of the Kingdom of God.