If you are using Max/MSP, you are a programmer whether you like it or not. Any of these environments require the application of logic, critical problem solving solutions along with some creative inspiration to make original and interesting work.
Being a programmer is like having another tool in your tool-belt, better to have even a dull knife than not have one at all. If you don’t want to be a programmer at all, I suggest not using Max.
Seriously. Use something else (and if Programing turns you off, don’t work in the new Media Scene, or get a grant so you can have someone do the work for you).
Patching environments (Max, Quartz, PD, VVVV, etc) are still programming environments and you will, for better or worse be forced to learn the ins and out of the system, the caveats and assumptions the environment has, and the best, most agile ways of using it regardless of what environment you choose to work in. Its part of learning how the tool works and how to get it to do what *you* want it to.
Check out Andrew Bensons “Jitter Recipes” on the C74 page, they are well written overviews of the though process and patching process, and Andrew is a great Jitter programmer, and makes nice work, so the patches are approachable and understandable, as well as interesting. I also have shared some work on the forums describing how it works, but not in ‘article’ format.