Interview: Andrée Seu
You’ve probably heard that Andrée Seu, a regular columnist for World Magazine, is coming in November to speak at our women’s retreat. Some of you are saying, “wow, amazing, can’t wait!” Others are saying, “who??” Andrée has graciously granted permission for us to reprint two of her essays, by way of introduction. We have two collections of her essays available on the book table, if you’re hungry for more.
I “sat down” with Andrée via email for an interview, which follows. She’ll be sharing with us on November 14 and 15….plan now to join us.
Long question first. Where’d you grow up? When and how did you come to faith? Tell us about your marriage and children.
I grew up in Rhode Island, but that’s misleading. It may as well have been Quebec because nearly everybody in town was French Canadian and Catholic, and they taught us French from the second grade, from nuns who often spoke no English.
Honestly, I’m not sure when I “came to faith,” though I tell everyone it was 1974. I wanted to believe the stories about Jesus when I was a child, but that’s where it ended. I made a flamboyant profession of faith in 1974 or ‘75, but backslid so badly for decades that I’m glad I didn’t die then. I can confidently say I have been a Christian for about three years at least, if you go by fruit-bearing.
My marriage was to a Korean immigrant whom I met at seminary in 1978. Young was a pastor and a writer of Korean mystery novels. We have four children, presently ranging in age from 27 to 14.
Francis Schaeffer was foundational in your faith journey. Who else influences your thinking?
Well, there’s Bubba, a 34-year-old inmate in Texas. And another inmate
in Michigan named David. My “influences” are in flux these days. I like
what the Presbyterians would call “charismatic” types because they
encourage me to think that God is alive and involved. I find myself
veering away from heavy theologians I favored in seminary (I don’t have
that kind of time) to more practical Bible teachers like Beth Moore.
Who are some of your favorite writers?
That’s an embarrassing question for me because I have never been much
of a reader. For that reason, I am perhaps inordinately impressed with
the few writers I have read. For example, I read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
last summer (forty years too late to get a good grade on it in school)
and I thought it was the best book ever written.
Nowadays I love to read but have no time. (Serves me right.). But when
I do read, I never go for the ponderous books. N.T.Wright leaves me
cold. I like Christian books that are very practical (but see, I
consider Dietrich Bonheoffer’s The Cost of Discipleship very practical) and deep and written by people who believe that God is still the living God.
I am so bowled over by Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality that I have read it several times, and will read it again rather than broaden my reading.
I’ve read that you became a writer by divine accident, after your
brother submitted one of your essays to World Magazine. How do you
choose topics for your weekly column? Are there subjects that you
consider “easy” or “hard”?
My choice of topics for my bi-monthly “WORLD” columns and the
daily blogs are serendipitous. I would like to think it is the Holy
Spirit behind that serendipity, because I have committed the process to
Him. I never go looking for stories, but I keep my ear open, and God
sends little thoughts my way. You all get them too, but since you don’t
need to write for a living, you just let them flit in and out of your
I have begun asking God to let me write only essays that build up the
Church, as opposed to muckraking articles. This is because I myself am
most helped by those kinds of stories — those that showcase God’s
glory and faithfulness and power — so I want others to be encouraged
by the truth too.
You ask if there are subjects that are “easy” and some “hard.” The
subjects I know nothing about are “hard” (Just kidding). So I have
decided, over the years, to stay away from current events altogether,
except, now and then, as springboards to more “devotional” topics.
Do you have a favorite among your essays?
Well, let’s eliminate all the “current event” ones. Off the top of my
head, I’m glad for “The Living Room” because it is a personal thank you
to some people who mean a lot to me. For the same reason, “Je Me
Souviens.” “Passenger at the Well” was okay, and the two about snow.
“Leggo my Scruples” was fun to write. “The Affair” and “Philadelphia
Story” and “Seventeen Minutes” weren’t pretty, but they communicated
something I wanted to say.
You’ve been a widow for 9 years. In what ways is your life most
different since your husband’s death? In what ways is it the same?
It tends to be lonely, but that tends to make me rely more on God, so
that’s good. It hasn’t been easy for my kids, and that grieves me. I
just have to trust God on that, that as it says in Acts, He sets the
boundaries in which men seek after Him.
Tell us a couple of your favorite “mom” moments.Reading to my
kids were some of my favorite times. And playing with them in the
ocean. Your question is a bit convicting because I have not been the
greatest Mom. My youngest daughter slept in my bed with me for 6 years
after my husband died, so that was 6 years of Mom moments.
You’re a woman serving in and being served by your local church,
with a seminary degree from Westminster, to boot. What do you think
about the deaconess question swirling through the PCA? I’m afraid
I’m not as well informed as you assume. Would that be a question as to
whether women should be ordained or formally commissioned? I haven’t
studied the question, either in the Bible or in PCA or other writings,
so I am not qualified to have an opinion. Let me tell you, on the one
hand, and just to give you a “fix” on me, that I wear a head-covering
to worship because that’s the way I personally read 1 Corinthians 11.
On the other hand, I see that there were deaconesses in Acts, so it
seems to me there should be some now too. Also, I just happened to read
this today in Isaiah: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your
sons and your daughters will prophesy….Even on my servants, both men
and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28).
For some reason, male headship has never bothered me. The way I figured
it when I became a Christian, I had just stepped down from being god,
so it wasn’t that much lower to go to be under a man. On the other
hand, Joel talks about women as prophets and Acts about women deacons,
so women are no second-class Kingdom citizens.