Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Follow-Up to Nagging Questions--Part 1
Good discussion yesterday. I appreciated hearing all your thoughts. I raised the questions, as I noted, not because I have the answers. But only to make each of us who are writers think as day in and day out, we take pen to paper (more like fingers to keyboard) and create.
In the end, I think we each need to settle this issue in our own minds, for our own writing. How we handle this issue depends not only on our target audiences, but also on ourselves. There’s no way around it—we bring our own experiences to the table when we write, even if we’re trying to create characters very different from ourselves.
Yesterday I mentioned that I didn’t think the Christian character in the discussed novel rang true. That character, according to backstory, had experienced a profound awakening with God—one that drastically changed life’s entire course. Yes, I would expect a character like that to pray more, seek God more, especially in a life-and-death situation.
However, I can’t deny that’s because of my own Christian experience. Other authors’ experiences may be different. Bonnie said it well in her comment from yesterday: “I don't find it so strange that what we consider normal behavior is absent from supposedly Christian characters. The writers may just be patterning their characters from their own framework of reference.”
If I had written Christian fiction 10 years ago, it would look much different than it does today. In the last eight years, I’ve seen God work in myriad mysterious ways. In a moment of crisis in the middle of the night, I’ve seen God awaken someone three thousand miles away—through an audible calling—and tell that person to pray for me—now. I’ve been miraculously healed of a crippling disease. I’ve heard God’s voice telling me where to lay my hands on people, how to pray for them in intimate ways I couldn’t have known—and seen their healing. I’ve had visions for others. Others have had visions and dreams as messages for me. I’ve been pushed by the finger of God to lie prone on the floor, praying desperately for someone whom a second earlier I wasn’t even thinking about—later to hear that moment was a time of spiritual crisis for him. These and many more moments of God’s supernatural power I’ve encountered. No wonder in my suspense, the common theme of God’s power over evil arises again and again. I don’t force that—I don’t have to. I’ve lived it. It’s woven into the fabric of my worldview.
What I’m getting at is—we can raise the question about Christian content and work out the issue in our own minds—for our own work. But in the end I have a hard time judging what another writer chooses to do about this. That’s a very personal choice between that writer and God, and the choice may be based on reasons I know nothing about. They may be reasons pertaining to the author’s worldview and experiences, or they may be purposeful choices about how to write the story based on target audience.
I will tell you a “reason” story of my own—a story I haven’t told before.
When I sat down to write Book #3 in the Hidden Faces series, I didn’t sit down to write Dead of Night. I was trying—desperately—to make another storyline work, and it simply would not come. Finally, thoroughly ticked that all prayer to that point hadn’t seemed to help, I threw away everything I’d outlined so far and railed at the heavens. “Okay, God, what? Here I am, back at square one—and the deadline’s considerably closer than it was before. What do you want from me?”
God in His mercy answered (thank goodness—that deadline was approaching), but not in a way I ever would have expected. And even when all was said and done, it wouldn’t be over…yet.
It began with a startling voice in my head.